The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) recently released its 2021 Bullying Report: Examining Islamophobia in California Schools, which documents bullying and discrimination of Muslim students.
Here are six major findings from students that you need to know:
1. 47.1% reported being bullied for being Muslim prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Pre-pandemic rates of bullying increased by seven percentage points when compared to CAIR-CA’s 2019 report. However, the switch to remote learning and the decrease of in-person interactions amongst students significantly reduced reported incidents of bullying to 26.22%.
2. 55.73% reported feeling unsafe, unwelcome, or uncomfortable at school because of their Muslim identity.
This is the highest reported level since CAIR-CA began conducting its biennial surveys in 2013. Furthermore, nearly 20% of respondents reported missing school because of those feelings. This is an upward trend from the 13.76% of respondents who reported missing school in our 2019 report.
3. 30.12% reported their hijab was touched offensively.
The high rate of physical bullying amongst students that are visibly Muslim continued in the 2021 report. Unfortunately, the rate of bullying amongst students who wear the hijab, or Islamic head covering, has remained fairly consistent since 2015, when 29% of students reported that their hijab was touched offensively. In 2017, 36% reported having their hijab tugged, pulled, or other forms of offensive touching.
4. Approximately one-third of respondents experienced or witnessed some form of cyberbullying.
During the period from August 2018 to August 2021, 29.72% of respondents reported that a student at school made offensive comments or posts about Islam or Muslims directly to them on social media. This is up from 12.19% of respondents in CAIR-CA’s 2019 report. Additionally, 35.68% responded that other students at their school made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims in general on social media.
5. Nearly one in four respondents (23.50%) reported that a teacher, administrator, or other adult at their school made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims.
Muslim students reported high levels of Islamophobic harassment and comments from teachers and other school personnel who are responsible for the well-being of these students.
6. Pre-pandemic, 60.81% of students who were themselves bullied reported seeing another student get bullied for being Muslim in comparison to only 21.54% of those who were not themselves bullied.
This data suggests that some schools allow bullying to go unchecked thus encouraging more bullying while other schools take a more proactive approach to creating an inclusive and more welcome environment where bullying is not tolerated.