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Survey: 53 Percent of Calif. Muslim Students Bullied Over Religion

The percentage of Muslim students who said they had been physically harmed or harassed at school jumped from nine percent in 2014 to 19 percent in 2016.

Survey: 53 Percent of Calif. Muslim Students Bullied Over Religion

The survey, conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, found bullying against Muslim students continues to rise.

A recent survey found Muslim students in California are bullied over their religion at a rate that is more than twice the national average.

The survey, conducted by the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked 1,041 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18 and enrolled in California’s public and private schools if they were bullied over their religion in 2016. Fifty-three percent said they were mocked, verbally insulted or abused because of their religion.

Comparatively, a 2017 National report from the Department of Justice found approximately 20 percent of Muslim students have been bullied.

The most recent survey also found 26 percent reported being a victim of cyberbullying and 57 percent heard their peers make offensive comments about Islam and Muslims online. Thirty-six percent of female respondents reported having their hijabs tugged or pulled off their heads, a seven percent increase from 2014, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

Bullying Against Muslim Students Significantly Increased Over 2 Years

Masih Fouladi, an advocacy manager for CAIR-LA, says incidents of bullying have sharply risen compared to the 2013 and 2015 reports.

“We’ve also seen an emboldening of these bullies statewide,” he said. “There has been an increase in physical contact and aggressive acts such as the pulling of headscarves causing some students to stop wearing hijabs to school.”

In the 2014 survey, 83 percent of Muslim students reported feeling safe, welcome and respected in their school. That number dropped to 69 percent in 2016. Sixty-one percent reported feeling comfortable in class discussions surrounding Islam and Muslims compared to 76 percent in 2014 and 77 percent said they felt comfortable letting students know they are Muslim compared to 83 percent two years prior.

The percentage of students who said they had been physically harmed or harassed at school jumped from nine percent in 2014 to 19 percent in 2016. Another 26 percent reported offensive comments directed at them through social media compared to 19 percent in 2014.

The survey results indicate offensive comments made by teachers, administrators and other school officials have also increased. Only 30 percent of respondents said they felt their bullying problems were solved by an adult, which is down from 42 percent in the 2015 report.

Marwa Rifahie, a civil rights attorney for CAIR-LA and lead author of the report, says the answer is better training for students and teachers.

“When teachers and students are less informed, bullying is more likely to occur,” she said.

Rifahie also believes President Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign has played a role in the significant increase, reports The OCR.

“The results of this survey reveal that Muslim students have had to carry a heavy burden every day at school by facing bullies whose religious intolerance is now being legitimized by a sitting U.S. president,” she said.

About the Author

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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