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Race In DFW: Targeting Asian-Americans

Asian-Americans report being bullied in schools more than any other ethnic group

By Reginald Hardwick and Christine Lee
|  Sunday, Jun 3, 2012  |  Updated 11:55 PM CDT
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Asian-Americans are the top targets for bullies in US public schools and the US military.

Christine Lee, NBC 5 News

Asian-Americans are the top targets for bullies in US public schools and the US military.

In a pink blouse and jeans, Jessica Yang blends into the diverse crowd at the University of Texas at Arlington. But she remembers a time in her life when she didn't feel as welcome.

"The first time I got bullied was in junior high," Yang said. 

She was born in China, moved to South Carolina then North Texas.  She didn't hear hurtful comments until she moved to Tarrant County at age 12.

"[The comments were] 'oh, can you even see because you're eyes are so small?'," said Yang. "'Oh, I can't understand what you're saying.. is that Chinese?'"

Yang's experiences are not unique. In a 2011 Justice and Education Department survey, 54 percent of Asian-American teens reported being bullied in the classroom, compared with 38 percent of African-Americans, 34 percent for Hispanics and 31 percent of white students.

It goes beyond name calling. In 2009, two dozen Asian students were attacked in a Philadelphia High School. They were hospitalized with broken noses and black eyes.

Amera Sergie counsels immigrant families at Mosaic Family Services in Dallas. 

"It seems not matter how long a family has been here, whether they're first, second or third generation.. Asian people tend to be seen as foreign in this country," said Sergie.

Bullying can continue after high school. Last year, 19-year-old US Army Private Danny Chen killed himself while serving in Afghanistan. The Army confirms he was subject of racial taunts and physical attacks.

"The highest suicide rate in the US military is Asians," Sergie said.

Stopping bullying is one of the goals of the Dallas Holocaust Museum-Center for Education And Tolerance.

"It's not overexposed," said Museum Director Alice Murray. "I don't think when you lose any child or person to suicide you can ever rest until it stops..."

"This is what happened with the Jews in the Holocaust, they were being attacked for who they were, their soul."

Back at UT Arlington, Yang is focused on the future. She has this advice for Asian-American youth.

"Know in regardless of what people say about you or what other people are making jokes about you or if you're being bullied... it's going to pass. And you're going to be okay."

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