WASHINGTON — Asian Americans endure far more bullying at US schools
than members of other ethnic groups, with teenagers of the community
three times as likely to face taunts on the Internet, new data shows.
see a range of reasons for the harassment, including language barriers
faced by some Asian American students and a spike in racial abuse
following the September 11, 2001 attacks against children perceived as
"This data is absolutely unacceptable and it must change.
Our children have to be able to go to school free of fear," US Education
Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday during a forum at the Center for
American Progress think-tank.
The research, to be released on
Saturday, found that 54 percent of Asian American teenagers said they
were bullied in the classroom, sharply above the 31.3 percent of whites
who reported being picked on.
The figure was 38.4 percent for
African Americans and 34.3 percent for Hispanics, a government
researcher involved in the data analysis told AFP. He requested
anonymity because the data has not been made public.
The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.
62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a
month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites. The researcher said more
study was needed on why the problem is so severe among Asian Americans.
data comes from a 2009 survey supported by the US Justice Department
and Education Department which interviewed some 6,500 students from ages
12 to 18. Asian Americans are generally defined as tracing ancestry to
East Asia, the Indian subcontinent or the South Pacific.
plan to announce the data during an event in New York on bullying as
part of President Barack Obama's White House Initiative on Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders.
New Jersey parent Shehnaz
Abdeljaber, who will speak at the event, said she was shocked when she
saw her son's middle school yearbook in which not only classmates but
also a teacher wrote comments suggesting he was a terrorist.
soon learned that her son had endured similar remarks at a younger age
but had kept silent. She complained to the school principal but has
since pushed for workshops on bullying that involve teachers and
"We need a more creative approach and more interaction
with the youth, empowering them to do something rather than just going
through the framework of authority," she said.
administration has put a priority on fighting bullying. In March, the
president joined Facebook for an online anti-bullying conference, where
he warned that social media was making the problem worse for many
Duncan, the education secretary, warned that bullying
had serious effects as it can lead to mental and physical health
problems including dependence on drugs or alcohol.
voiced concern about high rates of bullying at schools against gay and
lesbians, an issue that has come into greater focus since a spate of
suicides last year among gay teens who were harassed.
"We're seeing folks who somehow seem a little different from the norm bearing the brunt," Duncan said.
"We're trying to shine a huge spotlight on this," he said.
A number of Asian countries have also wrestled with bullying.
stepped up measures in 2006 after at least four youngsters killed
themselves in a matter of days and the education minister said he had
received an anonymous letter from a bullied student who was