Opera singer Paul Potts has taken time out of his busy NZ tour schedule to show his support for bullying awareness campaign, Pink Shirt Day.
The Britain’s Got Talent winner, who was badly bullied as a schoolboy, spoke about his experiences during a special Pink Shirt Day assembly at Auckland’s Royal Oak Primary School.
Mr Potts encouraged students to speak up if they are being bullied, and tell someone if they see a classmate being targeted.
“I had 12 years of people thinking that I wasn’t important, and that left me feeling the same way,” he told the assembly. “The reason for that was because I didn’t talk to anybody, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. You’re not on your own.”
Pink Shirt Day (PSD) is about working together to prevent or stop bullying by celebrating people’s differences and promoting friendship.
An annual awareness day celebrated in many countries around the world, PSD encourages people to talk about bullying and take action against it.
This year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), The Peace Foundation, Family Works, Youthline, QSA Network, Rainbow Youth, and New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association, have come together to organise and celebrate Pink Shirt Day on 23 May.
“Experiencing bullying is not uncommon,” says MHF Chief Executive, Judi Clements, “but we know that it can have a serious effect on the wellbeing of those who are affected by it.”
The new PSD website is now live and full of resources for those affected by bullying, as well as their parents, friends, and schools. It also features stories from New Zealanders who share their experiences of being bullied, or of helping others who are the targets of bullying.
Andrew, who is 15, says young people should tell someone if they are being bullied.
“I thought my mum was kind of small and harmless, but when she found out I’d been hit, she was real scary,” he says. “I guess I didn’t know how good it would feel to have her believe me, and fight to keep me safe.”
Seventeen-year-old Charlotte says: “Bullies like to make you feel alone.” She advises people to “make a plan with a friend – or even lots of friends – that if they see you getting picked on, they will come and stand beside you, even if they can’t stand up for you. Sometimes just having someone by your side can help you be strong enough to walk away and not let it get to you.”
Schools and workplaces across New Zealand are holding mufti-days, pink morning teas, pink champagne breakfasts, and inviting speakers and performers into their school to help facilitate conversations about bullying.
On 23 May, Kiwis are encouraged to wear an official PSD t-shirt, available at Mr Vintage from 22 April, or anything else that is pink, to identify themselves as supporters of the campaign.
“We hope all New Zealanders will be allies in the fight against bullying,” says Ms Clements. “We’re stronger together, so let’s all speak up, stand together and stop bullying.”
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