Day of Silence Campaign

16 April 2014

On the 27th of June, Wanganui High School joined 24 other schools from across New Zealand in the annual Day of Silence campaign. This is a story of the campaign written by AYV member, Amaan Merchant.

What is Day of Silence?

The Day of Silence campaign was intended to model and raise awareness about the silence that can be forced upon people as a result of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Transgender and Intersex (LGBQTI) bullying.

It was organised by the school’s anti-bullying group, which is part of the Anti Bullying Campaign (ABC), a Wanganui-wide initiative. ABC is aimed at raising awareness around the different forms of bullying that can occur at secondary schools and how to prevent them.

It is one of the key initiatives of the Wanganui School Leaders Network, which includes head boys and girls of local secondary schools as well as the members of the Wanganui District Council Youth Committee.

The Campaign

Day of Silence

The Day of Silence campaign works in a very simple, yet effective manner. For the entirety of the school day, those that are participating in the campaign refrain from talking.

We publicised the campaign in our school notices nearly a week in advance for all those who wished to join. On the morning of the 27 June however, it didn’t seem like we had an overwhelming number of people participating in the campaign; just over 50 students in a school of 1600. However it was as the day went on, especially during break times, that the number of people wearing the “Day of Silence” stickers grew and the school grew quieter and quieter.

This was a testament to the support the campaign had, both from the students and the staff, whom I’m sure didn’t mind a nice silent classroom for once. The silent nature of the campaign also caused a lot of people to notice what was going on, which is key in raising awareness about any type of bullying. A few people even took the idea a step further, placing duct-tape over their mouth for the extra visual impact.

The day's end

At the conclusion of the school day, the time had come to break the silence. We chose not to break the silence together, or hold a mass debrief. Instead, each individual slowly broke their silence themselves. This allowed the moment to be more personal, and people could choose to break the silence with their friends and share their experience of the day if they so wished.

Written by Amaan Merchant