On International Stand Up to Bullying Day, Act To Change condemns any act of racism and bullying, especially those that are stemming from the growing fear of COVID-19. This Day started in 2008, when 236 schools, workplaces and organizations representing more than 125,000 students and staff registered to take a stand against bullying by signing and wearing a special pink pledge shirt. Wearing a pink shirt today shows that you are willing to show support for victims of bullying.
This day of prevention and awareness comes at a critical point of time where Asian Americans are increasingly facing racist remarks amidst the knowledge that covid-19 made its first appearance in Asia. The knowledge has led to the avoidance of and attacks towards anyone of Asian descent, regardless of if they have had no contact from anyone related to the epicenter. Many members of the AAPI community are receiving verbal insults, or disgusted looks by people around them. Recent news of a 16-year old high school student being physically attacked by his bullies shows the rapid escalation of acts of bullying and violence.
The Center for Disease Control has warned that the virus will soon spread in America, saying that it’s “not a question of if, but rather when.” Act To Change calls on everyone to use healthy precautionary measures, not xenophobic rhetoric, to stay safe. Some ways to protect yourself and others are by washing your hands properly, covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and using a face mask if you are sick.
Act To Change encourages parents, teachers, school administrators and staff to stay proactive in monitoring acts of bullying in relation to the widespread fear of COVID-19. Bullying and harassment are especially prevalent in a school environment, and it’s never okay for a child to not feel safe in their place of learning.
Lastly, Act To Change urges the public to document and share any cases of bullying online. When we raise our voices and reach out to our online community for help, more positive changes are likely to happen. We encourage you to use the hashtag #ActToChange when sharing your stories, so that we can help to amplify your voice.
We must always remember to confront the person with education, and not with rage. If someone is scared of contracting COVID-19 from you simply because of your race or minor ailments, remind them that the virus originated in a different subcontinent. While it has spread in many countries since then, you have not visited any of the infected areas and therefore are not a risk to anyone. The best way to combat the virus is to not panic and spread unnecessary blame.
On International Stand Up to Bullying Day, we hope that you will wear a pink shirt in solidarity to victims of bullying, and that you will speak up against any acts of violence around you.