Bullies are revved up, overpowering aggressors and their victims are defenseless, self-loathing kids. At least that’s the standard picture most often painted.
But a new PSA will have you rethinking these long-established, clear-cut roles.
In conjunction with its annual anti-bullying awareness event, Pink Shirt Day released a powerful spot that shows the perspective of the struggling bully we often don’t get to see.
A girls struts through the hallway hurtling insults to anyone who gets in her way, but she reserves her most scathing affronts for the person she despises more than anyone else –- herself.
"Bullies often hate themselves the most," the PSA concludes.
Numerous studies have shown that behind a bully's confident persona, often lies a child who is desperate for help.
After studying the behavior of 666 students in the U.K., ages 12 to 16, who had reported engaging in bullying, Brunel University researcher Ian Rivers concluded that those kids held a negative view of themselves and were at a higher risk of mental illness, Live Science reported in 2010.
These kids were more likely than non-bullies to come from single-parent homes, and were more inclined to have depression and anxiety, among other mental health issues.
While some bullies may not have low self-esteem, per se, many can be "shame prone" and fear that their weaknesses will be exposed, clinical psychologist Mary C. Lamia wrote in an article for Psychology Today in 2010. By castigating others, they, in turn, deflect the attention and protect themselves from getting sent to the chopping block.
Wednesday’s Pink Shirt Day, a British Columbia event that has now expanded to more than a dozen countries, according to News1130, is backed by the CKNW Orphans’ Fund. Advocates are pushing for support for programs that help everyone involved in bullying, even those who are perpetrating the hurtful acts.
Last year, the awareness event raised CA$200,000 (about US$161,000), and those funds supported a number of groups, including Kids Help Phone, a 24-hour counseling hotline for young people.
The idea behind wearing pink on Wednesday actually stems from two brave Nova Scotia high school students who wouldn’t tolerate bullying at their school.
Back in 2007, a teen at Central Kings Rural High School was harassed for wearing pink. Two days after the incident, Travis Price and David Shepherd -- who were seniors at the time -- corralled nearly half the school to wear the "girly" color to make sure the boy never felt intimidated again, the Globe and Mail reported at the time.
“I just hope that I’m able to continue to inspire kids, and hopefully the next Travis Price will come along before too long, and I’ll be able to hang up the pink shirt, I guess if you will, and these kids can keep doing it,” Price told News1130 about the success of Pink Shirt Day. “I think the message is so valuable coming from a youth.”
Find out more about Pink Shirt Day and how you can get involved here.