Back in 2008, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced an ambitious new initiative to try to help curb bullying in the Big Apple’s classrooms. The plan included putting up "Respect for All" posters in school buildings, documenting reported incidents of bullying, notifying parents, and following up with students after they had reported harrassment. The plan was applauded by some of the city’s Asian American non-profit groups who had long pushed for measures to end bullying in classrooms.
But a follow up survey released this month by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund shows that there is significant work left to be done. In a snapshot survey of 163 Asian American students conducted in after school programs, youth leadership meetings, and houses of worship, researchers found that key components of the 2008 plan had yet to be fully implemented. Only 16 percent of survey respondents who reported bullying to their schools recieved a written report from their school, as mandated by the ’08 plan. Additionally, only 0.5 percent of bullying victims surveyed reported that their parents were notified of their harrassment — another major requirement of the 2008 initiative. Overall, the survey found that reported incidents of bullying had actually increased 20 percent among Asian American students since a similar survey was conducted in 2009.
The survey’s authors are now pushing for the Department of Education (DOE) to publish yearly data on bullying and harrassment, along with increased training for school staff members on how to respond to bullying incidents and the implementation of resorative justice curriculum that emphasizes empathy instead of focusuing on punitive measures for students who engage in bullying behaviors.