40% of Muslim students surveyed in California say they’ve been bullied at school, report finds

Oct 20, 2019 by

The report commissioned by the Council for American-Islamic Relations showed about 1-in-3 Muslim students do not feel safe, welcomed and respected at school.

Alham Elabed, whose son is Muslim and a special needs student at Redlands High School, speaks during a press conference Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ office in Anaheim. The organization released its biennial report on bullying of Muslim students in California. Elabed says her son was taunted and physically assaulted in May. His injuries required him to get two surgeries and continuing treatment, she said. (Photo courtesy of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles — CAIR-LA)

Ahlam Elabed’s son has been called a “terrorist,” mocked and humiliated at Redlands High School because he is Muslim, she said.

Her son’s classmates mocked him with chants of “Allahu Akbar” and pulled his pants down in PE class, Elabed said, speaking Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Council for American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Anaheim office.

CAIR’s California chapter released its biennial report on bullying of Muslim students on campus, which showed that Elabed’s son was not alone. The report, “Singled Out: Islamophobia in the Classroom and the Impact of Discrimination on Muslim Students,” said 40% of 1,500 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18 surveyed statewide said they had been bullied on campus.

The rate of bullying on campus of Muslim students dropped this year compared to the advocacy group’s 2017 report — from 53% to 40%. While that is encouraging, 40% is still twice the national statistic for students being bullied at school, said Patricia Shnell, senior civil rights attorney for CAIR-LA and lead editor of the report.

But, she said, the numbers from this year’s report show that nearly one in three Muslim students does not feel safe, welcomed, and respected at school. Also, this year only 72% of respondents reported feeling comfortable letting others know that they are Muslim, which is a decrease of 5% from the previous report, Shnell said.

She credited the decrease in the bullying rate to state laws such as the “Bullying Bill” (Assembly Bill 2291) in 2018, which requires schools to offer annual training to teachers and counselors to create a safe learning environment for Muslim, LGBTQ+, immigrant and other vulnerable student populations who may be subject to bullying.

However, the increasing protections in state legislation must also be reflected at the federal level, Shnell said.

Shnell, who works with Southern California Muslim families such as Elabed’s who come to CAIR-LA for help, said bullying has an emotional impact not just on the children who experience it, but also on their families.

“They feel helpless,” she said. “Parents lose faith in their schools and districts as the bullying continues. I’ve had students move districts or change schools. Some consider homeschooling or moving their child to an Islamic private school. It’s very hard on the entire family.”

Source: 40% of Muslim students surveyed in California say they’ve been bullied at school, report finds – Daily News

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