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Bullying can be subtle: Richmond students

Ferris elementary students made a couple hundred paper pink T-shirts and will show them at a "Zoombly."
Phoenix Wu, Elena Kafaii and Inaayah Imran, Grade 7 students at Ferris elementary, showed the pink paper T-shirts made to a promote anti-bullying message.

Bullying can be much more subtle and less visible in these days of social media, explained a Grade 7 Ferris Elementary student, Phoenix Wu.

If someone physically hits you, it’s obvious what they’ve done wrong.

But sometimes bullying is under the surface, Phoenix said, and others might brush it off as teasing.

“That’s the kind of bullying that hurts the most because it’s not obvious,” Phoenix said.

And online bullying can be hard for adults to understand because they didn’t grow up in the same environment.

While adults might “get it,” it’s hard for them to relate to what youth are going through when they are cyber-bullied, Phoenix added.

To raise awareness about bullying and focus on positive messages, students at Ferris elementary made a couple hundred pink paper T-shirts with messages like “Stop Bullying.”

Phoenix said Pink Shirt Day is a “great reminder” to be kind to others, especially since COVID-19 has made many students lose connections to each other.

“I think this brings us back to what it was before COVID,” Phoenix said.

The pink T-shirt project wasn’t meant just for one group, Inaayah Imran, also in Grade 7, explained, and the students really cared about the project and didn’t look at it as something just to get a grade.

“Some of the messages written inside the shirts are really personal,” Inaayah said. One that really made an impression on her was “be yourself,” something that is especially important now that everyone is on their screens a lot more because of the pandemic.

Elena Kafaii, also in Grade 7, said she hopes people remember to be kind even during the worst of times.

The school will hold a “Zoombly” – a Zoom assembly – where students who are in the transitional learning program, about 160 at Ferris elementary, will show their T-shirts, explained Neal Campbell, principal at Ferris elementary.

It’s one way of maintaining connections with those students in the transitional program.

While transitional learners are in contact with teachers and other school staff, this is one small way to keep them connected to the school community.

“Eventually we’ll be back as a community so we want to maintain those connections,” Campbell said.