School Violence and Race: The Problem of Peer Racial Harassment Against Asian Pacific American Students in Schools

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The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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Asian Pacific American (APA) students are physically endangered in schools where they are targets of racial harassment from other students, and the problem has worsened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks with fear of terrorists being transferred to South Asian and Muslim students. School administrators should but often fail to protect APA students from their harassers. A prime example is Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, New York, where the U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene to stop “severe and pervasive” student-on-student harassment of APA students because Lafayette school officials were “deliberately indifferent” to their plight. But racial attacks on APA students extend beyond Lafayette to schools throughout the United States. These racial attacks are brought on by racial stereotypes including the “model minority,” “silent minority,” and “perpetual foreigner” stereotypes. Solutions exist including cultural competency training, a school duty to protect students, victim-harasser separation, anti-racial harassment policies, translator and interpreter services, and litigation. All students including APA students should be able to learn and grow in a school that is free of racial discrimination and peer attacks.

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