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  • Posted: September 13, 2016

    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... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: June 29, 2016

    By the time Landon – a high school student in Massachusetts – entered his freshman year, he had already been in and out of the hospital for multiple suicide attempts. He had been pulled out of school because he wasn’t able to get through the day, and he needed medication to sleep.

    Today, Landon is back in school – a vocational school he transferred to as a sophomore, after coming out to friends and family as a transgender boy – and things have gotten a little easier for him. Landon’s new school is committed to treating every student with dignity and respect, and together they have found ways to allow Landon to survive and thrive in his new surroundings. But getting there has taken time, and the path hasn’t always been clear.

    In recent months, we’ve heard from a growing chorus of educators, parents, and students around the country about the need for guidance on how schools can successfully support transgender students and non-transgender students in compliance with federal civil rights laws. In fact, just this week, the National Association of Secondary School... Continue Reading

  • Posted: April 19, 2016
    woman speaking at podium

    School continues to be a dangerous place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.   A 2014 study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 65% of LGBT students heard homophobic remarks frequently or often, 56% of LGBT students reported personally experiencing LGBT-related discriminatory policies or practices at school, and 33% of LGBT students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

    “Despite increased public acceptance of LGBT people in general, many school campuses remain toxic environments for LGBT students, contributing to higher rates of suicide, depression, homelessness and HIV infection,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.

    In 2013, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in coordination with other community... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: February 9, 2016
    children holding hands

    Not since the days and months immediately after September 11 has the Muslim community faced the level of anti-Muslim bias and bullying that has been seen over the past several months. In the wake of Paris and other terrorist attacks, combined with the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a lack of information among the public about Islam, and the tendency to associate  Islam with terrorism, there has been an increase in expressions and incidents
    targeting the Muslim community and those who are perceived to be Muslim, such as members of the Sikh community. There has also been an increased wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in our public discourse, political rhetoric and everyday interactions.  Schools have not been immune. Youth have been called, “terrorists” or “ISIS.” There have been... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: October 14, 2015
    Melissa Mercado headshot

    Longer ago than I like to admit, I was a Puerto Rican middle school student. I remember witnessing fellow Hispanic or Latino kids endure name calling and rumor spreading nearly every day over many years. I also recall hearing about other kids being beaten up or getting physically hurt because of bullying. Personally, I experienced bullying through social isolation — hearing after the fact from my  peers about how much fun they all had at that awesome birthday party, quinceañero (Sweet 15th), movie or beach outing to which I was not invited.

    Why were my friends and I targeted? Was it because we were Hispanic? Not at all. We were all Puerto Rican kids, growing up and attending school in Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory), and being bullied by kids of our same ethnicity.

    But we were seen as... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: September 10, 2015
    line graph depicting aggression levels for students grades 6 through 12

    Bullying can take many forms: hitting or pushing (physical bullying), teasing or calling others bad names (verbal bullying).  And it also involves relational forms, such as manipulating peer relationships by spreading nasty rumors, threatening to terminate friendships or excluding someone from a social group.  Students who are bullied in any of these ways may suffer from depression and anxiety, and have academic problems.  

    In the past two decades, relational aggression has received an abundance of media attention.  Books, movies and websites have portrayed girls as being cruel to one another, thus creating and reinforcing the stereotype of “mean girls.” However, this popular perception of girls being meaner than boys is not always supported by research. While data from the U.S. Department of Education shows some differences between how boys and girls experience bullying – for example, girls were more... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: July 22, 2015
    doctor listening to child’s hearth with stethoscope

    As a pediatric emergency medicine physician for more than 20 years, seeing sick and injured kids in and out of your emergency department can be difficult, but a part of the job. Knowing you can help them, and being able to make them feel better is why we do what we do. Sadly, many of the children I was seeing with preventable injuries from fighting or assaults were a result of bullying or retaliatory behaviors. I needed to know what I could do to help, to turn the tide – and I have spent the last 10 years of my career focused on this issue. However, bullying still remains a bit of a mystery to many medical professionals.

    In April of 2014, I presented at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) working session, “... Continue Reading

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    Tagged Health, Help, Research
  • Posted: December 9, 2014

    As a Sikh American working to end school bullying in the post-9/11 environment, I believe the key to success is building partnerships with communities outside our own. 

    The Sikh Coalition was formed in response to the 9/11 attacks.  As Sikhs mourned the loss of innocent lives that day, we encountered bigotry because of our appearance. 

    Observant Sikhs are distinguished by turbans and uncut hair.  Our turban is a reminder to lead an ethical life, and our hair is considered a natural part of the body and left uncut out of respect for nature.  The core teaching of the Sikh religion is that all human beings are equal in dignity and divinity.  Ironically, as images of the 9/11 attacks were played repeatedly on television, so too were images of the masterminds – bearded men wearing turbans.  A new stereotype was born. 

    This stereotype has infected our schools.  According to... Continue Reading

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  • Posted: November 18, 2014
    Hines Ward Youtube video

    More than one-quarter of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2010-11 school year — nearly 7 million students. Continue Reading

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  • Posted: November 5, 2014
    kid alone in school hallway

    Bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated. The sad reality, though, is that bullying persists in our schools today, especially for America's 6.75 million students with disabilities in our public schools.  Bullying raises civil rights concerns under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which are two federal laws that prohibit disability discrimination. 

    The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigates and resolves complaints of disability discrimination at public schools. OCR recently issued guidance to public schools (available in Spanish) to help... Continue Reading

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