Washington-based Civil Rights organization urges youth to speak up, report incidents of bullying
(HARTFORD, CT, 8/28/19) – The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) today sent a letter to the Superintendents of Connecticut’s 50 largest school districts urging them to take measures to identify, record, and prevent anti-Muslim bullying.
“With the start of a new school year CAIR Connecticut wants to make sure that all students have a safe and productive school year free from harassment, hate and bigotry,” said Tark Aouadi, Executive Director of CAIR-CT. “Based on calls that our organization is receiving we believe that Muslim students in particular will face increased incidences of faith-based bullying this year.”
Muslim children become targets for bullying because their name identifies them as Muslim or because they practice their religion openly by praying while at school or wearing hijab (headscarf) or a beard. Sometimes this leads to them being called “terrorist” by their peers or taunts that they are going to “bomb” the school. Often the child victim of bullying will react or retaliate against his tormentors. School administrators have in the past punished this behavior rather than the initial bullying. CAIR-CT believes school officials should be vigilant to this type of behavior and intervene in appropriate ways.
Connecticut law requires that schools record incidents of bullying that occur in numerous ways. For example employees who witness acts of bullying or receive reports of bullying must notify the safe school climate specialist or another school administrator orally and in writing. However an investigation by Hearst media in 2017 found that Connecticut schools had a reported bullying rate of one percent — far below the national average of 20%. CAIR-CT believes that more staff training is needed to meet this compliance standard.
In its letter CAIR-CT recommends that school climate plans and any associated training materials include examples of anti-Muslim and faith based bulling. CAIR-CT can provide training to staff about Islamic culture and its practices so that they can be more sensitive to the situational needs of Muslim students.
As a companion to the letter, CAIR-CT is circulating to Muslim families in the state a new guide entitled “Know Your Rights as a Muslim Youth in School”
The guide, available online and in print, covers in layman’s language the definition of bullying, students’ rights, how students can make a difference, and how CAIR-CT can lend support.
“Every child, including Muslim children, deserve to feel safe and supported in their in school” said Tark Aouadi. “This guide is the first step developed by CAIR-CT and other chapters to remove bullying from our local school systems. Its purpose is three-fold: 1) to educate, 2) to uplift and (3) to empower young members of our community to maintain pride in their identity as Muslim Americans.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-CT Executive Director Tark Aouadi, 860-341-2247, firstname.lastname@example.org