(RNS) A report released Thursday (Sept. 5) by two civil rights groups found a dramatic spike in bullying of Asian-American students in New York City public schools.
The report by the Sikh Coalition and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund found that bullying of Asian-American students nearly doubled, to 50 percent, in 2012 compared with 27 percent of students who reported being harassed in 2009.
Bullying ranged from verbal abuse and cyber-intimidation to physical assaults, including students pulling off turbans and headscarves.
“I was called names like Osama and rag-head,” said Pawanpreet Singh, a junior at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and a student leader of the Junior Sikh Coalition. “These seem just like words, but they make you feel like a different species, like you’re not human. My self esteem and academics were greatly affected.”
Bullied students also said teachers rarely intervened and in some cases made derogatory remarks themselves.
Aronno Shasi, a Bengali-American and a Muslim at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, said she has stayed home from school because of fear.
“You start believing what they say,” she said.
The increase in harassment comes even though New York City school officials established policies in 2008 intended to combat “bias-based” bullying and intimidation. The report found that many of those policies are rarely implemented. For example, only 16 percent of students who reported being bullied received incident reports, as required by the policies, and only 40 percent of bullied students said school officials notified their parents.
To mitigate future bullying, the groups recommended that the city’s education department publish annual reports about bullying incidents and train all school personnel about diversity.