Report: More than half of Asian-American teens bullied

February 20, 2012 4:42:48 PM PST
Nearly one in three American students is bullied, according to government statistics. But the numbers are even higher for students in one racial group: Asian-Americans. A recent study says more than half of all Asian-American students are victims of bullying.

Living in America has not been easy for this high school freshman, who moved here with his family from a refugee camp in Thailand just a few years ago.

"They've been chasing him all year and they hit him in front of the house and he feel very upset and he don't know what to do," the teen bullying victim told us through a translator.

Nor is it easy for his friend, who was afraid to put her face on television.

"Last time, when I came back to school they tried to shoot me with a gun. They showed me a gun and I run away," said another bullied teen we are identifying only as Pawday.

They are Burmese-American, new to the United States and trying to adjust to a new country, a new language and a new school.

All go to a high school in Alief. They say bullies wait until they're off campus to strike.

But their stories are not unusual. According to a UCLA study, 54 percent of Asian-American students report being the victims of bullies. That's compared to 31.3 percent of whites, 38.4 percent of blacks and 34.3 percent of Hispanic students.

It's a nationwide problem. Tuan Nguyen, the director of the youth development program at Asian-American Family Services in Houston, says he talk to kids who complain about bullying, and it's not isolated to one school nor one school district.

Nguyen says the kids are targeted because they're different and because they're afraid to complain.

"They're refugee families. They come from backgrounds where there's a lot of war, a lot of turmoil, where they couldn't trust authority, so the best way to survive there is just to keep to yourself and not stir up any trouble," he said.

The students we talked to told us they didn't even know they could complain until recently, and even when they report abuse, nothing is done.

"Teacher doesn't listen to us," one teen said.

Experts say the lack of help can lead to emotional problems.

"They might feel depressed or afraid to go to school or have nightmares," Nguyen said. "I think as we all take an active role in supporting these kids, it will get better."

Until that day comes, the bullied teens we spoke to say they will not feel safe in their new home.

Alief school officials told Eyewitness News they were not aware of the growing bullying issues facing Asian-American students until our investigation and story. A spokesperson said their students' safety and well being is a priority and they will work to make these students feel safe in school and when they go home.