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Sikh children face 'Bin Laden' or 'terrorist' abuse in US

March 18, 2014 21:19 IST

Sikh children in American schools have been subject to physical and racial abuses with fellow students calling them 'Bin Laden' or 'terrorist', according to a new survey. Sikh children shared how their classmates make fun of their turbans and even try to forcibly remove them, according to the survey, 'Go Home Terrorist: A Report on Bullying Against Sikh American School Children'.

The children said they are called 'Bin Laden' or 'terrorist' or told to 'Go back to their country'. The report is based on survey of over 500 Sikh students, and interviewed 50 Sikh students in four states: Massachusetts, Indiana, Washington, and California.

Over half of Sikh students experience widespread bullying in American schools which is more than double the national rate, according to the report. "We found that the majority of Sikh children, just over 50 per cent, endure school bullying. And the numbers are worse for turbaned Sikh children," said the report of the Sikh Coalition, which was released at the Capitol Hill last week.

"Over two-thirds, or 67 per cent, reported that they are bullied in school. The word 'widespread', particularly as it applies to turbaned Sikh youth, is not an exaggeration," it said.

The National Center for Education Statistics, 32 per cent of all students ages 12 to 18 report that they are bullied in school.

Clearly, the extraordinary rates of bullying Sikh American school children endure is not happening in a vacuum, the report said. The period since 9/11 has been particularly difficult for Sikh Americans and their children, it said.

Noting that the government, teachers, and school administrators are not powerless to stop Sikh children from being bullied, the Sikh Coalition urged the US Congress to prioritise passage of the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Image for representation only

Lalit K Jha in Washington