Korean Students Tell of Chronic Bullying

As anyone who remembers grade school knows, bullies often target students that they consider strange or different. Often, those students come from immigrant families. The Korea Times reported recently on Korean American students victimized by bullies at school or through cyber-bullying — sending or posting cruel messages on the Internet or by phone:

Park, a freshman at a Manhattan high school, recently received psychological treatment after his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend spread bad rumors about him and then friends from both sides sent insulting messages to him. They also posted messages on his Facebook and Twitter pages. These days, Park said he doesn’t go to school and never goes outside except to see a psychiatrist.

Four Korean American students in the 11th grade at a Queens high school were targeted by fellow students after a peer, who did not get along with the four, lied to teachers about being bullied by the group. Before the school even investigated what actually happened, three or four teachers, and even the vice principal, said harsh words to the group, including statements like, “You’re nothing, you’re trash.” “Someone like you will never go to a good college.”

One of the teachers even made fun of the way Koreans greeted each other and the Korean culture.

The Korean-American Behavioral Health Association recorded the bullying experiences of 295 Korean-American high school students who live in the New York and New Jersey area in 2008 and 2009. Among the participants, about 30 percent reported being bullied and three quarters had seen others being bullied. Another 32 percent admitted to bullying others.

The most frequent reason, given by 29 percent of the Korean-American victims of bullying, for why they were bullied was “The country I’m from.”  Other reasons included “I’m different,” “I am fat,” “my skin color,” “my face looks funny,” and “I get good grades.” “Weird” friends, or being “a wimp,” “short,” young-looking, or angry a lot also seemed to provoke bullies.

The report recommends that “bullying among Korean/Asian-American adolescents and their related mental health issues need to be addressed in a comprehensive context of their culture, school and discrimination experiences.”

Are immigrant children or children of immigrants more likely to endure bullying? If so, why? Tell us your views in the comments below.

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