The following is a statement from Dour Thor, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:
Every day, kids of all ages experience bullying in schools across the country. In the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, this problem is often compounded by cultural, religious, and linguistic barriers that can make it harder for AAPI youth to seek and receive help. Anecdotal evidence has shown that certain AAPI groups – including South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Micronesian, LGBT, immigrant, and limited English proficient youth – are more likely to be the targets of bullying. And in some areas, bullying of AAPI students can be shockingly common.
To help address this problem, in November 2014, during the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the federal government formed an interagency AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force (AAPI Task Force). The AAPI Task Force strives to learn more about the experiences of AAPI students facing bullying and how the federal government can help. The AAPI Task Force comprises representatives from the U.S. Department of Education, which includes the White House Initiative on AAPIs and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and the U.S. Department of Justice. Through the AAPI Task Force, federal experts in civil rights, language access, education, community relations, public health, mental health, and data have worked closely with community stakeholders to:
- Identify barriers to reporting bullying and harassment
- Understand obstacles to full and equal access to remedial and support resources
- Analyze data on bullying and harassment in the AAPI community
- Improve the federal government’s outreach and resources
Today, during the fifth annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, I’m proud to announce the release of a report highlighting the experiences of AAPI students facing bullying around the country. The Summit will convene federal officials and community members to discuss strategies to combat bullying particularly in high-risk populations, including Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian students.
Over the last two years, the AAPI Task Force conducted nationwide outreach to students, families, community members, advocacy groups, and community-based organizations. The AAPI Task Force hosted 29 listening sessions across the country, and conducted an informational survey that collected responses from 30 community-based organizations.
- Through its outreach, the AAPI Task Force has gained key insights:
- Students from all AAPI communities are subjected to bullying and harassment of all types.
- AAPI students are bullied by a range of other students, including other AAPI students and students of other backgrounds.
- Circumstances of bullying often include, but are not limited to: limited English proficiency, cultural stereotypes, national origin and immigrant generation, and religion and religious attire.
- Many AAPI students and parents are not aware of resources and avenues of remediation available at the local, state, and federal levels.
The work of the AAPI Task Force has shed light on the important need to address bullying in the AAPI community and strategies to tailor outreach to this community. As we close out the AAPI Task Force’s work, let us recommit ourselves to continue working toward achieving real solutions to preventing and ending bullying for all.
Dour Thor is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the U.S. Department of Education.