Editor’s Note: The headline of this article has been updated to reflect better accuracy.
One in four self-reported incidents against Asian American seniors since the onset of COVID-19 involved physical assault, according to a new report.
Throughout the pandemic, many elderly Asian Americans have been reported as victims of unprovoked violence, resulting in serious injuries and even deaths.
The new report, released by Stop AAPI Hate in partnership with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), examined incidents of hate directed towards Asian Americans aged 60 and above between March 2020 and December 2021. Researchers analyzed data based on Stop AAPI Hate’s latest national report, which involved 824 senior-related cases out of 10,905 incidents.
The new report found that 26.2% of the incidents against seniors involved physical assault — twice the rate of those under 60 (15.4%). Smaller percentages reported having their properties vandalized (7.2%) and being refused services (5.7%).
The most prominent form of attack, however, was verbal harassment or shunning, which 62.5% of the seniors claim to have experienced. Meanwhile, 7.8% reported being coughed and spat upon.
Most incidents took place on public streets (36.7%), followed by businesses (26.7%) and private residences (15.8%). Other attacks occurred in public parks (7.5%), online (7.4%) and in public transit (7%).
The report also highlighted a follow-up survey conducted from January 2021 to March 2021 which polled 62 seniors and found that nearly all of them (98.2%) believe that the U.S. has become more physically dangerous for Asian Americans. Additionally, those who reported experiencing hate incidents suffered higher levels of stress (65.5%) and anxiety (24.2%) than Asian American seniors overall (24.2% and 19.1%, respectively).
“Elder Asian Americans deserve to feel safe – but for the past two years have been struggling with hate, fear and isolation. This AAPI Heritage Month we need to recommit to their safety and support,” said Russell Jeung, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.
The report calls for solutions from the federal, state and local governments, as well as local transit agencies and community-based organizations. These include addressing fears, improving data collection and passing relevant legislation, such as the Mental Health Workforce and Language Access Act of 2021, which aims to increase language access in qualified health centers.
“We’re asking that elected officials honor this month with action by creating safer public spaces for AAPI communities and all communities of color,” said Cynthia Choi, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Funding and supporting community-based organizations across the country is key to building safe places for elder Asian Americans.”
Stop AAPI Hate noted that the number of incidents reported to its center is “just the tip of the iceberg.” In March, AAPI Data, a national AAPI data publisher, released a survey that projected up to 3 million anti-Asian incidents since the beginning of 2021.