Bullying of Asian-American students, including Sikhs, has nearly doubled to 50% in public schools in New York City, according to a report by two civil rights groups.
The report by the Sikh Coalition and the Asian American Legal Defence and Education Fund found that bullying of Asian-American students nearly doubled to 50%, in 2012, compared with 27% of students who reported being harassed in 2009.
Bullying ranged from verbal abuse and cyber-intimidation to physical assaults, including students pulling off turbans and headscarves, the Washington Post said citing the report by Religion News Service, last week.
"I was called names like Osama and rag-head," said Pawanpreet Singh, a junior at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and a student leader of the Junior Sikh Coalition.
"These seem just like words, but they make you feel like a different species, like you're not human. My self-esteem and academics were greatly affected."
Bullied students also said teachers rarely intervened and in some cases made derogatory remarks themselves.
Aronno Shasi, a Bengali-American and a Muslim at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, said she had stayed home from school because of fear. "You start believing what they say," she said.
The increase in harassment comes even though New York City school officials established policies in 2008 intended to combat "bias-based" bullying and intimidation. The report found that many of those policies were rarely implemented.
For example, only 16% of students who reported being bullied received incident reports, as required by the policies, and only 40% of bullied students said school officials notified their parents.
To mitigate future bullying, the groups recommended that the city's education department publish annual reports about bullying incidents and train all school personnel about diversity.