American Turban

Safe Schools Improvement Act reintroduced in US Congress

A recent post on the Hyphen Magazine blog shares the parallel experience of two Sikh American men who were bullied in their school years:

For both Gurwinder and I, physical confrontation became a matter of daily course at school. Gurwinder recalled, “A kid in class came up from behind and started hitting me. There were six other kids with him; they had me on the floor, stomping on my arms and back.”

It is a story not uncommon for many children, and particularly Sikh children. On this blog, I have written often about bullying in general and discussed some of my experiences. The impacts of childhood bullying is not limited to just the school years, as studies have shown that the scars left behind linger with the victim throughout his or her life and can manifest as psychological issues in adulthood.

Recent studies by various Sikh advocacy organizations have highlighted the pervasive and disproportionate share of bullying that Sikh children are facing in their schools — reported as commonly as two-thirds of Sikh students — and as such, this issue has been a key item of action by these organizations, community activists, parents and educators.

One item of specific focus is addressing the issue of bullying by way of federal legislation. In this regard, a broad range of groups have endeavored to see a bill called the Safe Schools Improvement Act passed by the US Congress. This bill, being re-introduced in the House of Representatives and in the US Senate, is designed to help protect students from harassment and discrimination in their schools. According to SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund), should it become law, the Safe Schools Improvement Act will mandate that protections and procedures exist in schools and provide incentives for states to ensure that their students are protected.

This proposed legislation cannot become law unless US Senators and Representatives support the bill. To that end, you can easily ask your Senators and House Representative to support the Save Schools Improvement Act using the online tool provided by SALDEF here.

(Video above: a spoken word presentation of Shane Koyczan’s poem on the experiences and effects of childhood bullying called “To This Day.”)

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