WASHINGTON DC (March 13, 2014) — The Sikh Coalition on Thursday released a groundbreaking national report on the endemic and severe bullying of Sikh school children in America to the United States Congress.
The report was released at a briefing in the U.S. Capitol Building organized by the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, and The Sikh Coalition.
U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, joined representatives of the Sikh Coalition, congressional staffers, and members of the Sikh community to mark the occasion.
The report, entitled “Go Home Terrorist,” — A Report on Bullying Against Sikh American School Children,” found that the majority of Sikh children, just over 50 percent, endure school bullying. Even worse, over two-thirds, or 67 percent of Sikh children reported that they are bullied in school.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 32 percent of all students ages 12 to 18 report that they are bullied in school. Turbanned Sikh children therefore likely experience bullying at more than double the national rate.
The report is based on surveys and focus groups of over 700 Sikh school children and interviews of over 50 Sikh students in four metropolitan areas: Seattle, Indianapolis, Boston, and Fresno, California during 2012 and 2013.
“It would not be an exaggeration to call school bullying, particularly as it applies to turbaned Sikh youth, ‘widespread,’” said Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition. “This is our seventh report in seven years in whole or part on school bullying. Consistently, the majority of Sikh children from the coasts to the heartland say that bias-based bullying is a part of their experience in school. We need the help of educators, administrators, lawmakers, agency officials, the media, parents, and children if we are going to end this troubling dynamic.”
On Thursday, representatives of The Sikh Coalition shared some of the reports key findings:
• The majority of Sikh children endure school bullying. Over two-thirds of turbaned Sikh children report that they are bullied in school.
• The bullying of Sikh children is often associated with post-9/11 bias. Epithets such as “terrorist” or “Bin Laden” frequently accompany verbal and physical abuse.
• Sikh children have been punched, kicked, and had their turbans ripped off by fellow students.
• Consistently Sikh children have called on educators and administrators to teach more about Sikhs and the Sikh religion in order to build understanding in school.
“As the founder and Chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, and a member of the Congressional Sikh Caucus, I applaud the work of the Sikh Coalition,” said Congressman Mike Honda. “I am committed to working with community partners, agencies, and my colleagues in Congress to eradicate bullying. As an educator and school administrator for more than twenty years, I have seen firsthand the impact of bullying on our nation’s students. And as a Japanese American, growing up after WWII, I personally felt the effects of ignorance, racism, ostracism, and prejudice, which hindered my self-esteem and ability to succeed in school. The Sikh Coalition’s study and report reinforces the need for research, attention, and education to address bullying.”
The report cites lack of federal data on the bullying of Sikh school children as a systematic concern that should be addressed in order to better diagnose and target efforts to solve the issue. In addition, the absence of or negative representation of Sikhs in school textbooks nationwide was cited by the report as an opportunity to better combat or mitigate school bullying.
“We have a long-term, institutional commitment to ensuring our children reach their full human potential,” said Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition. “We will keep working with Sikh parents, youth, educators, media, and lawmakers until we solve this problem. We have no choice. Our children are our future. We’re committed to making it even brighter for them everywhere, including in the classroom.”
The Sikh Coalition is the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization. Tomorrow’s report is the fifth report is has written in whole or part on the topic of school bullying. For more information on the issue of school bullying of Sikh children, please visit www.sikhcoalition.org/our-programs/advocacy/bullying.