We’re seen as overachievers and geeks but you can add a new name for Asian Americans to that list: bully victims. A recent study has revealed that Asian American students suffer the most bullying from their classmates and teachers in US schools.
The research…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. The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.
The picture gets worse when it comes to the Internet: over 60% of Asian American youth reported being bullied online every month. Only 18.1% of Caucasian students said the same thing. These numbers are upsetting, especially with the increased awareness and coverage of school bullying in the media. We face these stories every day, whether it’s the tragic news about teenagers driven to suicide from being heckled at school or celebrities speaking out against it to even a White House summit on how to tackle the ongoing problem.
This data reveals that bullying isn’t just a white kid problem, a black vs. white thing or something that happens to every child. Bullying is now an Asian American problem and something that we as a community need to address better. So what can we do about it?
I can’t say I have the right answer, aside from the usual points about teaching our kids that it’s wrong, it’s mean and it can have serious psychological effects. I’ve never been bullied in school, so I have no idea what it’s like. But as someone who can sympathize with those who have, here’s my solution: let’s turn things around.
Why should we be bullied when we can be the bullies ourselves? If our classmates kick us down, we should rise up and kick back. And kick first. Kick them hard where it hurts. I don’t know where that is but probably somewhere in the groin area would be best. We all inherently know kung-fu because we’re Asian, right? Now is the time to put those skills to good use. And we’re proud to be Asian. We study hard. We work hard. Let’s apply that same ethic to being bullies. We’ll boss everyone around the playground before they can boss us around. We’ll harass everyone on Facebook before they can harass us. We’ll be so cunning in playing these mental games on all the other kids that they won’t even know that they’re being bullied. In fact, they’ll think we’re just being nice. But we’re not. WE’RE IN CHARGE.
That’s right, kids. We’re going to turn things around so much that in a couple years, the government will run another study and reveal that Asian American students are no longer the majority being bullied but the majority bullying others. Are you on board?
Wait, hold up–I’m kidding. Don’t go out there and start bullying other kids. As they say, two wrongs (wongs?) don’t make a right. Bullying is a serious matter that takes a huge toll on our self-confidence. What we should realize is that perhaps there needs to be a anti-bullying movement specifically targeting the Asian American community. I can think of a plethora of reasons why I would be bullied for being Asian: I look different, I eat different foods, my family speaks with an accent and we don’t always celebrate the same traditions as everyone else. Many of us are immigrants. We’re inundated with negative stereotypes about our ethnic background; of course this would translate into how we’re treated by others. More importantly, our parenting styles are different and occasionally, hold our children back. I speak for myself when I say that Japanese parents are stricter than most non-Asian families. If I ever told my parents about being treated badly in school, they would tell me to grin and bear it. (And then tell my teacher to assign more homework, no joke.) Perhaps part of the reason why so many APA students are being bullied is also because there’s a different support system from their families.
Regardless of why or how this is happening, my heart breaks to hear that a vast majority of Asian American kids are suffering from the cruelty of their peers. This is an experience that will affect the rest of their lives. So what I can say is, speak out. Don’t let the bullying break you down. Stay strong. If you’re one of the 62% mentioned in this study and reading this post, know that we here at 8Asians are right behind you. We know what it’s like to grow up in the US as an Asian American. It’s hard. Sometimes it sucks. But it gets better. Way better.