Study of Asian American students in NY finds increase in reports of bullying

Two weeks ago, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the Sikh Coalition released a report entitled “One Step Forward, Half a Step Back,” gauging the implementation of New York Schools Chancellor’s Regulation A-832, issued in 2008 “which established policies and procedures on how New York City schools should respond to bias-based harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools.” The New York City Department of Education serves 1.1 million students across 1,800 schools.

For Sikh American students, the issue of bullying is particularly severe, as studies have shown up to two-thirds of Sikh students in jurisdictions across the country are victims of bias-based harassment in their schools.

“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.” — Pawanpreet Singh, a student in New York.

"One Step Forward, Half a Step Back" -- A study by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Sikh Coalition about bullying in NYC schools, was released earlier this month. (Source: Sikh Coalition)

While the City of New York was quick to tout success of its anti-bullying program, there have been indications that actual results are mixed. Surveys of students continue to show high rates of reported victimization, and a 2011 survey of teachers suggested they were not confident in the measures implemented to prevent bullying in their school.

This month’s report provides more data about the status of New York’s anti-bullying initiatives. A total of 163 Asian American students (including Sikh and other ethnicities) were surveyed on various measures. Collectively, the study reports that:

  • Asian American students experience higher rates of bullying in schools. The number of reported bullying incidents of Asian American students increased by 20% compared to a survey completed in 2009.
  • Schools notified parents about the harassment in less than half (40.5%) of the reported cases. In only 16.5% of the cases was follow-up provided in written form, as required by the Chancellor’s regulation.
  • There has been a lack of implementation of A-832 measures.

The report offers recommendations around ensuring the regulations are implemented thoroughly in New York’s schools and demands accountability from New York’s education system:

…although most students reported feeling safe from harm, exactly half reported experiencing some kind of bias-based harassment, compared with only 27% in 2009. While this may be due to an upsurge of reporting due to increased awareness of A-832 and the 2010 passage of the state Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), it is unacceptable for almost half of New York City Asian American students to have experienced some form of bias-based harassment. Furthermore, although implementation and awareness of A-832 have improved across most areas since 2009, less than 50% of all respondents still reported that a number of A-832’s requirements remain unenforced.

The report makes clear that anti-bullying initiatives need more focus and attention by New York’s education system. Read the entire “One Step Forward, Half a Step Back” report here.

(Above video: “Article of Faith” — A short documentary about the Sikh Coalition’s 2008 lobbying efforts in support of anti-bullying regulations in New York.)


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