Responding to COVID Bullying, Bias, and Violence Against Asian Americans

Father talking to young daughter and son

Learn how schools can respond to the increase in bullying of Asian American and Pacific Islander students during the COVID-19 pandemic. This section includes articles about the issue, classroom resources, and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to historic levels of bullying, harassment, and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Schools across the nation have also reported an increase in bullying against Asian American students during the past year.

Schools have a critical role to play in protecting all students from bullying. Here are some tips and resources to help them in that effort, as well as tips for families affected by COVID bullying.

Resources related to violence in Atlanta, GA

The following resources discuss the recent shooting deaths of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the impact of this violence on AAPI communities at a time when anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise.

News updates

For additional tips on talking about the news in age-appropriate ways, see this guide from Common Sense Media:

School District Statements

Gene Luen Yang on Instagram: #AsiansAreHuman

In this online comic, Gene Luen Yang reflects on the ongoing need to assert that #AsiansAreHuman.


What Educators Can Do

1. Learn more about the problem.

If you have not yet done so, take some time to learn about the increase in the level of anti-AAPI hate speech, violence, and bullying on a national (and global) scale since the beginning of the pandemic.

In addition, learn why describing COVID-19 variants with country names can also increase discrimination and is scientifically inaccurate. Keep in mind that bullying may also occur against students who hail from countries where some of these variants were first identified, such as the U.K., South Africa, Brazil, and India.

Research, resources, and organizations

Headlines

Podcasts

Historical views

2. Learn more about what this means for students.

A lot of reporting has been done on bullying and bias against AAPI students and what this means for students, families, and administrators — especially as more schools return to in-person learning. These articles and reports highlight the issue:

Student Perspective: Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School

This video was published by The New York Times.

3. Take steps to prevent and respond to anti-AAPI bullying and hate speech among students.

  • Reiterate to students that bullying and hate speech will not be tolerated in any situation or any learning setting.
  • Remind students of how to treat each other with respect, as well as school rules on bullying and discrimination — including rules related to cyberbullying.
  • Become familiar with strategies for preventing the bullying of ELL and immigrant students.
  • Ensure that school and district leaders are aware of any incidents that occur.
  • Be prepared to report any bullying and bias incidents at the district, local, state or federal level if needed.

The following resources offer helpful tips related to bullying of ELL and immigrant students:

4. Ask other educators and family liaisons if they are hearing concerns from families.

Your colleagues, particularly those that work closely with AAPI families, may know if students and families have experienced bullying or harassment.  It may be especially helpful to ask multilingual liaisons who work with immigrant families what they are hearing (keeping in mind that many AAPI families have lived in the U.S. for multiple generations). This is a more sensitive approach than asking families about their experiences directly.

If bullying or harassment has occurred in the school or community, talk with your colleagues and administrators about what steps the school and staff to take in support of AAPI families. Examples might include:

  • a public statement of support (see below for examples)
  • a schoolwide anti-bullying campaign
  • family outreach with information on reporting, preventing, and addressing bullying
  • partnerships with community organizations
  • partnering with local, state, or federal officials if needed.

5. Encourage leaders to make public statements in support of AAPI students and families.

Share statements that other local officials, school districts, associations, and organizations have made in support of AAPI students, such as the following statements or those above:

You can see other examples of statements that school districts have made in support of immigrant students and families in these examples compiled by Colorín Colorado.

 


Videos: Addressing COVID Bullying

How school leaders can respond to anti-Asian bullying and violence

Principal Victor Tam urges school leaders to consider how the rise in anti-AAPI violence during COVID-19 impacts their students and families — and how to respond as a leader in the community.

What it felt like to be bullied

Principal Tam recalls his experiences being bullied as a young Chinese immigrant in the United States.

Alan from Sesame Street Talks about COVID Bullying

In The ABCs of COVID-19, a town hall for kids from CNN and Sesame Street, Alan from Sesame Street talks about the importance of kindness and not blaming any person or group for the pandemic. The clip starts at 7:43. A second town hall was also produced later.

 


Classroom Resources

Lesson plans

Many organizations have compiled resources on this topic, including the following lessons plans:

There are also examples of how citizens and organizations are stepping in to help:

Note: If you plan to discuss this topic:

  • Take utmost care to provide a safe space (or brave space) for all students, particularly your AAPI students.
  • Remind students of class guidelines on respectful discussion and provide private spaces for reflection like journals.
  • Do not single students out or ask them about their experiences directly. If they choose to share them, take time to listen to their stories and assure them that you are there to support them.

See more tips in these resources:

Classroom resources and books highlighting AAPI history and heritage

There are many ways to include diverse and authentic representations of AAPI experiences across the curriculum and throughout the year, starting with the resources below:

Booklists

Classroom resources

Classroom resources on AAPI historic events

Interviews and articles

These interviews and articles feature award-winning AAPI students, educators, authors, and illustrators. You may find some video clips you wish to share with students or colleagues.

Educators

Authors and illustrators


Resources for Families

Family guides and tips

COVID-19 resources

Bullying prevention resources

Becoming an Upstander: Videos for Kids

Related resources

Note: We have selected a range of resources providing useful information for schools and educators. While some of this material includes advocacy information, Colorín Colorado and our parent organization, public broadcasting station WETA-TV-FM, do not take political positions or participate in political advocacy.