By Ian Jefferson
Featured Photo Credit: Amy Clack
“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
Words to live by and words that are at the heart of struggles faced by many of us. As Middle School Vice Principal, I am tasked frequently with making the tough decisions – decisions that I know could put me in a position of unpopularity with my staff and/or my students. That is part of the job. I know what I signed on for when I took this position and through the years I have developed strategies to help ease the pain of unpopular decisions.
But what about our students? The middle school years present one of the most difficult eras for decision-making that anyone will ever encounter. Hormones and peer pressure abound during these years and these can influence even the most focused of youths. Couple that with the fact that for many preteens/teens, feeling accepted and liked is paramount for them. Unfortunately, this can sometimes get in the way of doing what’s right – especially when it comes to standing up to a bully.
For many middle school students, the fear of standing out from the crowd can be frightening. In the time of trying to fit in, standing out is a big faux pas. Some students are afraid to step in when they see bullying happen, as they don’t want to draw the attention to themselves, but being a silent witness can actually further enable bullying. When we develop a culture where the norm becomes not accepting bullying – then the decision to step in and stand up for the victims becomes easier.
The anti-bullying movement relies on students standing out and standing up against bullying. This can be one of the most challenging situations for a youth – but one that is incredibly important in today’s society. The world needs more voices that say, “That’s not alright and I’m not going to accept it!” and on April 11th, the members of TIS said just that without saying a word.
I was proud to see students and staff of all ages and grades don their pink clothing with pride for the International Day of Pink. This simple gesture said more than words can express, as it demonstrated a unified front against bullying, homophobia and transphobia. TIS joined the international community on this day to not only commemorate the events that took place in a rural Nova Scotia high school, but to also show that what’s right can sometimes also be what’s popular.