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New White House Anti-Bullying Campaign Seeks to Empower Asian Americans

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /
Junior Sikh Coalition's anti-bullying and empowerment training from May 2013 in a Sikh gurdwara in Richmond Hill, New York.
Junior Sikh Coalition's anti-bullying and empowerment training from May 2013 in a Sikh gurdwara in Richmond Hill, New York.Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

A new anti-bullying campaign launched Thursday morning by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders seeks to raise awareness about bullying and American youth — including Asian American, Pacific Islander, Sikh, Muslim, LGBT, and immigrant youth — and to empower students, parents, teachers, and communities to report, stop, and prevent bullying.

The campaign, #ActToChange, was launched in collaboration with the Sikh Coalition and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). The campaign's website features blogs, resources, and video testimonials from celebrities, athletes, and community members in multiple languages.

“Education is a right for everybody, but bullying has become a civil rights issue because it’s constantly interfering with their education,” Aasees Kaur, a Sikh Coalition advocate, told NBC News. “[Students] have to find that ounce of courage to stand up against bullying and keep going back [to school] because it just takes one voice to really change things.”

Many studies have shown that Asian American, Sikh, and Muslim students experience bullying at much higher rates than other students, including physical, verbal, emotional, and cyber-bullying: 67 percent of turbaned Sikh youth in Fresno, California, 50 percent of Asian American Pacific Islander students in New York City public schools, and 50 percent of Muslim American students in California public schools. Bullying is also compounded by language, cultural, and religious barriers.

Kaur’s younger brother, Japjee Singh, was bullied for years in elementary and middle school, but with the help of the Department of Justice, won a landmark settlement to address bullying.

“Over here in Georgia now, more than 100,000 kids are better protected, and that’s the result of one voice, just one, that’s all it takes to really change things. But we have to keep encouraging the kids to stand up and speak up about it.” Kaur said. “Don’t just keep it to yourself, and don’t suffer alone. These problems are manageable, and they can be handled with the right resources and tools.”