Teens and bullying: Racism turning schools into a nightmare for kids

Robert Mandel’s film 'School Ties' told the story of a student, played by a much younger Brendon Fraser, who faced severe prejudice and rejection in school after his peers discovered that he’s a Jew. Unfortunately, the magnitude of the problem highlighted in the film is much bigger in reality. Racist bullying, which is closely related to racist violence, is quite common in schools, with students experiencing everything from hostile remarks and offensive actions to out-right rejection by their peers on grounds of their skin color, accent, ethnic grouping, and cultural or religious practices. Parents and educators have been searching for answers to how to prevent bullying for years, but don’t seem any closer to nailing it in the bud.

Incidents of racist bullying in schools

Racial bullying has been regularly poking its ugly head in schools around the US. Few months ago, a 15-year-old Polish immigrant, Bart Palosz, who spoke with an accent, shot himself with a shotgun on the first day of his sophomore year of high school to escape the unrelenting bullying by his classmates. Not only did he have to deal with racial slurs, he also faced physical violence, including having his head bashed into a metal locker. The school administration remained a silent spectator during the entire situation.

Another story involving racial bullying in school came into spotlight a few months later. This time, Isaac Phillip, a member of Lunenburg football team, was targeted for being half-black by his peers. He underwent verbal and psychological abuse on numerous occasions, including getting spray-painted with a racial insult. Upon learning of the racist abuse, the school administration reacted immediately by cancelling the remaining football games of its school’s team and calling in the FBI to investigate the issue.

The aforementioned incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, with the issue of racial bullying plaguing numerous schools.

What makes racist bullying a problem

Racist bullying in schools is a huge problem for various reasons. The fear of hostile comments and actions can lead to high rate of absenteeism, while also cause the academic performance of victims to deteriorate. They may suffer from continuous stress and anxiety. They may even develop a complex, turning bitter towards their racial background and start suffering from low self-esteem. Extended exposure to bullying may push the victim into depression, which, if prolonged, can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

Parents to fight racist bullying

Parents should talk more often with their kids about their school life to recognize situations of potential bullying and then use this knowledge to take preventive and counter measures. If a situation of racist bullying is identified, they should get in touch with the school officials and have them take the necessary action. If necessary, parents should provide professional help to their kids. 

Parents of racist bullies have an important role to play as well for its prevention in schools. In order to instill an attitude of acceptance in their kids, they should encourage them to socialize with kids of other races and include them in their groups. It’s highly recommended that parents set an example for their children to follow by bringing home friends of different ethnic backgrounds.

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