International Bullying Awareness Events Prove That Bullying Is a Problem Everywhere

Image of people participating in International STAND UP to Bullying Day activities.While Americans celebrated the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday last week, people in other countries celebrated a holiday of a different sort: a day dedicated to confronting the problem of bullying.

The 2012 International STAND UP to Bullying Day was held on Friday, November 23. On International STAND UP to Bullying Day, schools around the world celebrated by wearing special pink STAND UP t-shirts and hosting anti-bullying programs.

The pink shirts are notable because of how the STAND UP day came about. In 2007, two high school students in Nova Scotia decided to take action when they heard about a younger classmate who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. With about $20, they purchased dozens of pink t-shirts for their classmates. The next day, after the two boys sent out text messages encouraging classmates to wear pink to school, hundreds of students showed up wearing pink. The phenomenon then became something of a movement, spreading first to more than 60 schools in Nova Scotia, and then all over the world when news of the events went viral on the Internet.

The Nova Scotia story is notable for many reasons, but perhaps the most important takeaway is that bullying is not a problem unique to America. The American news media’s intense scrutiny of bullying over the past few years might lead some U.S. citizens to believe that bullying is some sort of American-bred scourge. However, students around the world—not to mention teachers and administrators—become the victims of bullying and cyberbullying every day.

When we consider that bullying occurs in so many different places around the world, we must face the sad truth that all human beings have the capacity to humiliate, ridicule, or abuse others. We must realize, for example, that cyberbullying is not about malicious postings on Facebook or inappropriate text messages, per se; it is fundamentally about cruel and inhumane behavior that needs to be addressed. Only when such behavior is openly discussed can it be stopped—and, as many CyberBully Hotline customers have discovered, an anonymous communication program may be just what is needed to help students, parents, and faculty members bring these concerns to light.

Thanks to Black Friday shopping and family traditions, most Americans will probably never celebrate this special day on the fourth Friday of November. However, bullying awareness and prevention efforts can be implemented at any time of the year, and American students and educators should follow the example of their international counterparts.

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