An Islamic book in Arabic
An Islamic book in Arabic. Courtesy CAIR

A survey of California Muslim students released Wednesday showed that 39% reported being targeted for bullying because of their Islamic faith, compared with 19% in 2016, when the last survey was conducted.

The Anaheim-based state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations surveyed 1,500 Muslim students ages 11 to 18 statewide.

While discrimination is down slightly in some categories, nearly “40% of respondents reported that students at school were bullied for being Muslim. This is double the national statistic for students being bullied at school,” the report found.

On a more positive front, the study showed a decline in “offensive comments from teachers, administrators and other officials from 38% in 2016 to 29% in 2018-19.”

Cyberbullying also trended down, from 26% in 2016 to 13% in the most recent survey.

Female students reported more bullying. The survey showed 44% of female students experiencing bullying, compared with 37% for males.

Bullying was more frequent in higher grades, with 48% of high school seniors reporting bullying, the highest rate in all age groups.

The report states that 72% of the students reported “feeling comfortable” revealing their religion to others, compared with 77% in 2016.

CAIR recommended more training of educators on how to handle Islamic-focused bullying.

“Training for teachers and school administrators should include unbiased competency training from experts about the religious practices and beliefs of their Muslim students in order to allow educators to anticipate and identify areas of bullying,” the report says. “Teachers should be trained to be sensitive to the lesson plans and class discussions about Islam and current global politics that may impact Muslim students. Muslim students should not be made to feel that they must answer for all Muslims. Many American Muslim students feel pressured by their peers and teachers to speak authoritatively on these subjects when they may not be equipped to do so.”

The organization encouraged parents and students to be “vigilant in looking for signs of bullying and harassment,” and recommended that parents “closely monitor their children’s online activity” to shield them from cyberbullying.

Parents should follow state procedures to lodge complaints with their child’s school and follow up with their local CAIR office, according to the organization.

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