Children at Ladysmith’s Boys and Girls’ Club wear their pink shirts in support of bullying awareness on Wednesday

Children at Ladysmith’s Boys and Girls’ Club wear their pink shirts in support of bullying awareness on Wednesday

Saying no to bullies

Ladysmith clubs take stand

A circle of children watch a fight, a lonely child gets picked on and no one stands up to help, a mean text message is sent ­— these are all situations the Boys and Girls’ Club want to change with their pink shirt campaign.“We talk about bullying in school all the time,” said Niki Stuart, a licensed program manager at the Boys and Girls’ Club. “It’s become so prevalent.”In its fourth year, the pink shirt campaign aims to raise awareness of bullying.The children at the Boys and Girls’ Club in Ladysmith wore their shirts, signed each others’ shirts, signed pledge forms and put on skits about bullying.“Our perspective is to empower the bystanders,” she said. “The victims, or targets, are not usually able to speak up for themselves.”She said many children have become desensitized to bullying because it’s so common.“But when you follow along you’re a bully, too,” she said of kids watching someone get bullied.Stuart also mentioned the pervasiveness of cyberbullying.“There’s that disconnect online, people bullying feel safer because they’re not physically present.”She said the point of the Pink Shirt Day is to teach kids to make good decisions and to stand up and say ‘that’s not OK.’Stuart said she’s not sure why bullying is such an issue, but she said she links it to the lack of respect in society in general.“It’s so difficult to explain respect to children, it’s not often modelled for them.”She said the campaign is a good start.“We still have more to do,” she said.The schools are doing a good job in getting the kids actively involved in bullying awareness, she said,“They are making it safer for kids and hopefully it’s making a difference.”But, she said, bullying still happens.“It’s still so prevalent and hard-wired into them,” she said.