More than 17,000 students across Manitoba were encouraged to wear pink Wednesday in support of a national anti-bullying movement.
The annual Red Cross Day of Pink is held to make a bold and united stand against bullying. It was started by students in Nova Scotia when a boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
The students organized and wore pink shirts to stand up to the bullies.
Manitoba's Education Minister Nancy Allan talked to students at Elwick Community School on Wednesday about the province's anti-bullying Bill 18.
She said it was prompted by the death of Amanda Todd in B.C., who committed suicide in October 2012 after posting a YouTube video detailing how she was bullied online.
Paul Olson is the president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. He said Manitoba teachers are seeing increasing instances of bullying in schools.
"Bullying really does seem to be on the rise in the digital world," said Olson.
"Online forums, texts, Facebook, social media are all becoming extremely toxic and hurtful to kids."
Allan said the consequences of online bullying can be tragic, and children need to be educated about the risks.
"And you know just this week, another young woman, 17 years old, in Nova Scotia was bullied on Facebook, and she killed herself," Allan said.
Bullied kids turn to adults
"We have to get to them early to let them know that it can be very dangerous," said Allan.
Elwick student Jack Lagimodiere is familiar with bullying. He said sticking up for friends can leave students vulnerable to being bullied themselves.
"People don’t want to get bullied, so I try to stick up for them, and then I get bullied too," he explained.
But he said at that point, he seeks help from adults.
"So I go and get the teachers and all that," said Lagimodiere.
Allan said preparing teachers to work with students on precisely those types of issues is an important part of Bill 18.
More information, including the background of Day of Pink, major events and links to tip sheets can be found online by going the link at the left of this page.