Responding to COVID Bullying, Bias, and Violence Against Asian Americans
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.
In this article:
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.
- Anti-Asian Violence: What Schools Should Start Doing About It (Education Week)
- 'A Heavy Thing to Bear': An Asian-American Family's Conversation on Violence Flanked by Atlanta, Boulder Shootings (Colorado Public Radio)
- What You Can Do to Fight Violence and Racism Against Asian Americans (PBS NewsHour)
- Deadly attacks at Atlanta-area spas raise new fears for Asian Americans (PBS NewsHour)
- Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism (The Washington Post)
- Responding to Anti-Asian Violence and Georgia Shootings (Learning for Justice)
For additional tips on talking about the news in age-appropriate ways, see this guide from Common Sense Media:
- Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
School District Statements
- Multilingual Statement in Response to Racism and Violence Against Asian and Asian American Communities (Public Schools of Brookline, MA)
- Response to Increased Violence Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA)
- LMSD Statement on Violence Towards Asian Americans (Lower Merion School District, PA)
- Statement in Support of Our Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities (Austin ISD, TX)
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
- Asian American Experiences of Racism During COVID-19 (Dr. Sumie Okazaki, NYU)
- COVID-19 Resources to Fight Bullying and Hate: Multimedia, Articles, and More (Act to Change)
- Many Black, Asian Americans Say They Have Experienced Discrimination Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak (Pew Research Center)
- Stopping the Spread of Hate: A Guide for Responding to Anti-AAPI Racism During COVID-19 (Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, Illinois)
- Stop AAPI Hate
- Asian American Community Battles Surge in Hate Crimes Stirred from COVID-19 (PBS NewsHour)
- 'Words matter' as Asian American Leaders Urge Action Against Hate Crimes (PBS NewsHour)
- Asian Americans Experience 'Far More' Hate Than Numbers Indicate (NPR)
- Stories Shed Light on Recent Attacks on Asian Americans (NPR)
- Anti-Asian Hate Crimes and Harassment Rise to Historic Levels During COVID-19 Pandemic (Los Angeles Times)
- Biden Directive Combats Racism Against Asian Americans Amid COVID (ABC News)
- ABC7 hosts 'Race and Coronavirus: Taking Action Against Anti-Asian Bias' (ABC7)
- What It Means to Make Art as an Asian American in the Pandemic (KQED)
- How Harmful Stereotypes and Racism are Spreading Around the Coronavirus (Time)
- Asian American Doctors and Nurses Are Fighting Racism and the Coronavirus (The Washington Post)
- The Rise in Anti-Asian Attacks During the COVID-19 Pandemic (1A, WAMU Public Radio)
- Race in America: The Rise in Violence Against Asian Americans (The Washington Post)
- The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S. (The Washington Post)
- America's Long History of Scapegoating Its Asian Citizens (National Geographic)
- The Long History of Racism Against Asian Americans in the U.S. (PBS NewsHour)
- Asian Americans Then and Now (Asia Society)
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:
- After a rise in hate crimes, some Asian New Yorkers are nervous about returning to school (Chalkbeat, NY)
- Why So Many Asian American Students Are Learning Remotely (KQED)
- Stop AAPI Hate Report on Youth Discrimination and Bullying (AAPI)
- Amid attacks, school principals concerned over Asian Americans' return to class (NBC News)
- Program Aims to Protect Asian Youth from Bullying (NBC News)
- Asian American Students Face Bullying Over COVID (WebMD)
- Parents Fear anti-Asian Racism as Schools Mull Reopening (PBS NewsHour)
- Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus (Learning for Justice)
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:
- 8 Tips to Protect ELLs from Bullying in Your Classroom and School (Language Lizard)
- How to Address Bias and Bullying: Resources for Schools
- Feds Warn Schools About Bullying Over Coronavirus (Education Week)
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:
- Statement on Bullying and Harassement of Asian-American Students (Montgomery, MD Public Schools)
- A Response to Anti-Asian Harassment and Violence During COVID-19 (National Council for Social Studies)
- Statement on Anti-Asian Racism and Hate Crimes (Asian Americans for Equality)
- How local governments in Washington state are countering racial bias and harassment related to the COVID-19 pandemic (Municipal Services and Research Centers in Washington State)
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.
Many organizations have compiled resources on this topic, including the following lessons plans:
- Asian Americans Face a Wave of Discrimination During the Pandemic (Share My Lesson)
- Coronavirus, Racism and Xenophobia (Share My Lesson)
- COVID-19 Related Anti-Bias Education Resource Guide (NYC Department of Education)
- Lesson of the Day: A Rise in Attacks on Asian Americans (The New York Times)
- Teaching About Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia (Educators 4 Social Change)
- Coronavirus and Infectious Racism (Anti-Defamation League)
- Coronavirus, Illustrated: A Multilingual Comic for Kids (NPR)
There are also examples of how citizens and organizations are stepping in to help:
- Hundreds of People Are Volunteering to Escort Elderly Bay Area Asian Americans to Help Keep Them Safe (Mercury News)
- Compassion in Oakland
- LA Vs. Hate Campaign
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:
- Establish a Safe Learning Environment (Anti-Defamation League)
- What Do Safe, Respectful, and Inclusive Virtual Classrooms Look Like? (ADL)
- Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter? (Facing History)
- Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations (Facing History)
- Creating a Safe Space for Educators to Discuss Sensitive Current Events (Edutopia)
Classroom resources and books
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:
- Board Books and More: Asian Pacific American Heritage Books for Young Children
- AAPI Heritage & History Booklists (Grades K-3)
- AAPI Heritage & History Booklist for Adolescents (Grades 4-12)
- Bias and Racism Against the AAPI Community: Books for Young People
- Stories That Highlight and Celebrate the Asian American Experience (Scholastic)
- Asian Pacific American Libraries Association Awards
- AAPI Heritage Month (Share My Lesson)
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Resources (Anti-Defamation League)
- Asian Pacific American Center (Smithsonian)
- Asian American and Pacific Heritage (National Park Service)
- Embracing APIA Histories and Students All Year Long (Facing History)
Classroom resources on AAPI historic events
- Wong Kim Ark's Historic Role Relating to Birthright Citizenship (Share My Lesson)
- The Impact of the Vincent Chin Case (PBS Learning Media)
- Japanese-American Incarceration During World War II: Books and Lesson Plans for Kids and Young Adults
- Chinese Exclusion Act (Asian Americans Advancing Justice)
- The Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers (PBS Learning Media)
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.
- Sean Pang: What does it feel like to be an ELL?
- Building Bridges: An Interview with Xiao-lin Yin-Croft
- From the Classroom: Working with Chinese ELLs by Xiao-lin Yin-Croft
- Meet Jin Park, the First DACA Recipient Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship (NPR)
- Lessons Learned from Immigrant Families by Young-Chan Han
Authors and illustrators
- Cynthia Kadohata
- Erin Entrada Kelly
- Hena Khan
- Rukhsana Khan
- Uma Krishnaswami
- Grace Lin
- Ellen Oh
- Linda Sue Park
- Allen Say
- Greg Tang
- Janet Wong
- Gene Yang
- Laurence Yep
Resources for Families
Family guides and tips
- Countering COVID-19 Stigma and Racism: Tips for Parents and Caregivers (National Association of School Psychologists)
- COVID-19-Related Resources (Asian American Psychological Association)
- Asian-American Youth Struggling with COVID-19 and Racism (Children's Minnesota)
Bullying prevention resources
- Multilingual Family Guides on Bullying Prevention (AAPA)
- What Adults Can Do to Prevent and Stop Bullying: Multilingual Tip Sheets (Alberta, Canada Government)
- Bullying Prevention Resources for Multilingual and Multicultural Kids (CHALK Academy)
- 30 Positive Affirmations to Tell Our Kids Every Day w/ English/Chinese Printable (CHALK Academy)
Becoming an Upstander: Videos for Kids
- Becoming an Upstander (Sesame Street)
- Be an Upstander (The NED Shows)
- COVID Information for Multilingual Families
- Resources for Families: Talking About Race and Racism
- Fred Rogers Talks About Tragic Events in the News (PBS Parents)
- Parent Reading Tip Sheets: Available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Hmong
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.