Anti-Bullying Day or Pink Shirt Day

By Lucía Garrido

Pink Shirt Day is coming again. Depending on where you live in Canada, you might observe this anti-bullying awareness day in February. Regardless of when you wear your pink shirt, the movement to bring awareness to bullying has begun to spread worldwide.

Do you know how Pink Shirt Day came about? The movement started in Canada when two boys saw another boy being teased for wearing a pink shirt to school. They went out and bought lots of pink shirts and started handing them out to friends. They all wore pink shirts to school the next day as a way to support their classmate.

Since then, agencies around the world that fight against bullying have started adopting the wearing of pink shirts to stand up to bullying.

Anti-Bullying Day (or Pink Shirt Day) is an annual event, held in Canada and other parts of the world, where people wear a pink-coloured shirt to stand against bullying.

The initiative started in Canada, where it is held on the last Wednesday of February each year

What is bullying?

Bullying is a form of aggression with a power imbalance; the person doing the bullying has power over the victim. In addition to physical trauma, bullying can result in serious emotional problems, including anxiety, low self-esteem, or depression.

Types of bullying

  • Physical bullying: using physical force or aggression against another person (e.g., hitting)
  • Verbal bullying: using words to attack someone (e.g., name-calling) verbally
  • Social/relational bullying: trying to hurt someone by excluding them, spreading rumours, or ignoring them (e.g., gossiping)
  • Cyberbullying: using electronic media to threaten, embarrass, intimidate, or exclude someone, or to damage their reputation (e.g., sending threatening text messages).

Bullying vs. harassment

Bullying and harassment are similar, yet different:

  • Harassment is similar to bullying because someone hurts another person through cruel, offensive, and insulting behaviours.
  • Harassment is different from bullying because it is a form of discrimination.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is treating someone differently or poorly based on specific characteristics or differences. Bullying turns into harassment when the behaviour goes against Canada’s Human Rights Laws and focuses on treating people differently because of:

  • Age
  • Race (skin colour, facial features)
  • Ethnicity (culture, where they live, how they live, how they dress)
  • Religion (religious beliefs)
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity (if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or heterosexual)
  • Family status (if they are from a single-parent family, adopted family, stepfamily, foster family, non-biological gay or lesbian parent family)
  • Marital status (if they are a single, legally married, common-law spouse, widowed, or divorced)
  • Physical and mental disability (if they have a mental illness, learning disability, or use a wheelchair)

Bullying is an obstacle that kids and adults deal with daily. Anti-bullying campaigns are a way to bring awareness to the community. They also provide hope by giving the bullied a place to turn to.


Pink Shirt Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of February each year. People wear pink shirts to signify their stand against bullying. This day started in Canada and is now observed on various dates worldwide. In 2012, the United Nations declared the official day to be May 4. Still, some countries prefer to celebrate it on February 28 or 29. This date is accepted by many countries worldwide, such as the United States, France, Australia, New Zealand, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom.

History of Pink Shirt Day in Canada

The first Pink Shirt Day was established by Travis Price and David Shepherd of Berwick, Nova Scotia. In 2007, they bought and shared 50 pink shirts after Chuck McNeill — a male ninth-grader, got bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. The former Premier of Nova Scotia, Rodney MacDonald, then declared the second Thursday of September ‘Stand Up Against Bullying Day’ to commemorate these events. The Premier of British Columbia in 2008, Gordon Campbell, finally announced February 27 to be the regional anti-bullying day. That set the last Wednesday of every February as the national anti-bullying day in Canada. In 2009, Boys and Girls Clubs wore pink T-shirts that said ‘Pink Shirt Day’ and ‘Bullying Stops Here’ for Anti-Bullying Day.

The day was established to combat bullying. The United States Department of Justice indicated that one out of four kids would be bullied during adolescence. And bullying usually continues after the first event, sometimes for years after. Detailed research showed that 71% of bullied students continue to be bullied, making it an issue with no solution. Bullying is so wrong that even a 2010 Yale School of Medicine study discovered an association between being bullied and committing suicide. The term to describe this is ‘bullycide,’ where someone who is bullied eventually commits suicide as the effect.

Pink Shirt Day activities can take place at schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, or any peer group location. It usually involves abolishing bullying rallies, creating awareness, holding networking booths to help the community better understand the wrongs of bullying, and promoting anti-discrimination organizations. Other features include handouts, resources, and information promoting the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence message.

Pink Shirt Day timeline


C.K.N.W. Orphans Fund

The C.K.N.W. Fund is founded to raise money for the Loyal Protestant Home, an orphanage.


C.K.N.W. is Renamed

The C.K.N.W. Orphanage Fund is renamed the C.K.N.W. Kids’ Fund.


Nova Scotia Bullying Incident

Ninth-grade students take up a stance by wearing pink shirts to support their classmate who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.


Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day is created by the C.K.N.W. Kids’ Fund to raise awareness on the prevention of bullying.

How To Observe Pink Shirt Day in Canada

1.   Wear a pink shirt.

Wear a pink shirt and encourage your workmates, students, or the community to wear pink shirts. You could choose the official day or pick a day after it.

2.   Build and teach positive relationships.

One of the most productive ways to beat bullying is to help your kids, friends, and students build positive relationships with each other. Work with your kids or students and develop lessons that help them learn how to nurture positive relationships with each other face-to-face and online.

3.   Host a pink-shirt-themed event.

Host a pink-shirt-themed event and bring out the pink sweets, pink shirts, and pink handouts that all promote anti-bullying.

5 Facts About Bullying That Will Blow Your Mind

1.   Many are bullied

Data shows that one in five kids of age 10 to 12 is bullied in schools.

2.   Verbal bullying is the most prevalent

It is said that out of all forms of bullying, verbal bullying is the most common form of bullying.

3.   The staff sees it

It is said that 70% of the staff have seen bullying incidents in schools.

4.   Physical appearance most targeted

Bullying based on physical appearance is the most common kind.

5.   Many skip school

It is believed that about 1,60,000 students in the U.S. have skipped school because of bullying.

One of the best ways to approach bullying is a cohesive anti-bullying campaign in a school. The community members stand up against bullying and do not support it.


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