A new survey report produced by the nonprofit Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) has revealed that Asian American and Pacific Islander youth from smaller ethnic groups have experienced high rates of bullying in their schools as well as feelings of cultural invisibility.
The report, which is based on a 2016-17 survey conducted by the Asian American and Pacific Islander Coalition Helping Achieve Racial and Gender Equity (AAPI CHARGE) and its partners, asked 813 Asian American and Pacific Islander youth and young adults on these issues, according to NBC News
It was found that 50% of Cambodian, Laotian and Iu Mien, a Southeast Asian ethnic minority, respondents had not taken any studies that covered their culture, ethnic history and identity. Meanwhile, 85% of Samoans asked in the survey said that they felt invisible and “unrecognized because they haven’t seen their cultural identities represented in classes,” the report noted.
However, 50% of the youth respondents revealed that they had experienced bullying in schools that targets the stereotype of their racial or ethnic identity.
“These smaller Asian American and Pacific Islander communities just do not have the visibility when it comes to their educational challenges,” SEARAC coordinator, Gabriel Garcia, said. “So every step that we can take to bring visibility to these communities to their experiences in school will bring us closer to educational equity that we would be advocating for.”
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Garcia also noted that AAPI CHARGE and its partners conducted the survey because they did not have figures to reference.
The participants in the survey also reported two additional issues stating that there was a “lack of culturally relevant support at school and intergenerational educational challenges,” and some of them even reported that their parents did not complete high school or colleges.
The data gathered by the survey is critical for shifting policies and programming to better the support for targeted group of students, Lailan Huen, program manager for Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement at the Oakland Unified School District, said in the email she sent via NBC News.
“It shines a light on and lifts up voices from communities who are not reflected in the ‘Asian’ categories on data dashboards, communities who have for too long been largely invisible in the eyes of schools and educators,” Huen said. “We cannot continue with only universal programs and expect to reach our goals for equity, without giving students who need more access and support those resources to achieve standards and thrive.”
The report also went on to offer several recommendations to address the issues presented by the respondents including developing ethnic studies that shows the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. It also offers a requirement for faculty and staff to undergo training on diversity as well as inclusion. And lastly, the report offered an implementation of restorative and transformative justice models in schools to address bullying.
“We need these narratives to be uplifted so that policymakers understand that there are Asian communities in need of support in the areas of education, employment, restorative justice, language access, mental health, etc.,” Stanley Pun, program manager at Oakland-based nonprofit AYPAL, said.
The full report is scheduled to be released on Thursday.