Although only 17 percent of Asian American students report being bullied at school—the lowest number for any racial group—more bullied Asian Americans (11.1 percent) report being targeted for their race than Whites (2.8 percent), African Americans (7.1 percent) or Latinos (6.2 percent), according to the American Psychological Association.
One study found that among middle and high school Asian American students, 17 percent experienced violence through weapons or the threat of weapons at least once in the past year.
Certain factors make particular Asian American students more vulnerable to harassment. Some may be targeted for being immigrants. More recent generations experience higher rates of bullying than 3rd generation students. Having difficulty speaking English or speaking with an accent can also increase the risk for bullying.
Others are antagonized for their religion or dress, such as Sikh students who wear turbans to school, according to the Obama White House. One study found that over two-thirds of Sikh students in Fresno, California experience harassment.
While African American and White athletes are less prone to bullying than non-athletes, both Asian Americans and Latinos who participate in sports experience increased bullying.
Students who suffer harassment may feel unsafe in the classroom, which can impair their ability to learn. Bullied students suffer from more physical and mental health disorders, higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, and lower school and later career performance.
Margaret Cho, the Korean American standup comedian, has talked openly about being harassed in school. “When I was a teenager, I was bullied a lot, and I felt very insecure and very scared and I didn’t want to live,” she said.
A joint effort by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other U.S. government departments attempted to address issues of bullying by launching the Asian American and Pacific Islander Bullying Prevention Task Force in 2014. The 2016 report can be found here.
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