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Pink Shirt Day has arrived - Mental Health Foundation

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tomorrow Aotearoa will turn into a sea of māwhero/pink to celebrate the global bullying prevention campaign, Pink Shirt Day.

Over 18,000 t-shirts have been purchased, sold through Cotton On, and people from schools, workplaces, whānau and communities will stand together to Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora - Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!

To mark the start of Bullying-Free NZ week on Monday ERO released the results of a survey of 11,085 students about their experiences of bullying. The results are a timely reminder why New Zealanders should take a stand against bullying on Friday.

The survey found nearly half of primary school children and a third of teenagers reported being bullied in the past month. Fifty-eight percent of students who identified as gender diverse said they had been bullied at their school.

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson says the results are alarming.

"These results show we as a country have a lot more work to do to make Aotearoa a safe, inclusive place for people from our rainbow communities - a place where they can speak up about their experiences and get the help the deserve," Mr Robinson says.

"While some people still believe bullying is a normal part of growing up, many studies show people who are bullied are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

"We must take bullying seriously, but we understand it can be hard to know what to do to prevent it," Mr Robinson says. "Celebrating Pink Shirt Day - standing with people who feel alone and unaccepted and showing you care - genuinely makes a difference."

Research has shown we can all help reduce the harm bullying can do by making sure people feel truly accepted, included and valued members of their schools, communities, workplaces and whānau.

"On Pink Shirt Day, we have a chance to step up and show we genuinely embrace and celebrate difference and diversity and make an effort to understand how our own behaviour impacts others," Mr Robinson says.

Well-known Kiwis including Dame Valerie Adams, Jono and Ben, Hilary Barry, Anika Moa and Jeremy Corbett are getting behind Pink Shirt Day tomorrow.

"Each year more people get behind the kaupapa which shows a collective commitment to turning our bullying statistics around and creating a safer, kinder Aotearoa for everyone, especially our rangatahi," Mr Robinson says.

This year over 2,000 workplaces have signed up for Pink Shirt Day, including Flight Centre who will turn their iconic captain pink for 24 hours and have all 1300 retail staff wearing pink.

"For us, Pink Shirt Day shows that regardless of religion, culture or how you’ve been brought up, it doesn’t matter - we are all one", Flight Centre New Zealand managing director David Coombes says.

On Friday evening, TV3 show The Project will broadcast Cotton On Group handing over a cheque to the MHF from sales of the official Pink Shirt Day t-shirt.

"There’s still time to get your pink t-shirt in selected stores across Aotearoa. 100% of net proceeds raised will go back into the Pink Shirt Day campaign so we can continue to create positive change in our communities," Mr Robinson says.

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