• Bus drivers don pink shirts to take a stand against bullying

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    Collage of bus drivers

    Students who rode a school bus on Wednesday, Feb. 26, might have noticed their driver wearing a distinct piece of clothing: a bright pink shirt with the words “Kindness Starts Here.” The unique attire was part of PPS drivers’ commitment to combatting bullying.

    PPS drivers took part in Pink Shirt Day, an annual worldwide event that started in Canada as a way for people to take a stand against bullying. PPS drivers have been taking part in the event for about seven years.

    “The simple act of wearing a pink shirt, especially in solidarity, can help start a conversation,” said Mary Richhart, a trainer in PPS’s Student Transportation department. “That is a big step toward healing and helping.”

    PPS bus drivers attend an in-service training each month, and the session on Feb. 21 was dedicated to the anti-bullying message epitomized by Pink Shirt Day. Richhart discussed signs of bullying that drivers should look for, such as if students don’t have their backpacks, or have torn clothing or red faces. Because buses are contained spaces, they can be areas where bullying happens.

    “A lot of times the bullying, if it's going to happen on a bus, it's going to carry over into the school,” Richhart said. “So what I try to convey to everyone is that we need to report that. It's being a mandatory reporter, letting school personnel know that, hey I'm seeing this on my bus, and are you seeing it at school? Could you keep an eye on this guy?”

    Pink Shirt Day started in Canada in 2007, when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying after a fellow student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Pink shirts became of symbol of solidarity and support.

    “It's important that victims of bullying know that they're not alone, and they know that there's help and support available,” Richhart said.