17 Sep Protecting Your Children from Anti-Asian Bias
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our country and across the globe, impacting the physical and mental health of children, families and individuals of every kind.
But the Asian-American community has faced an additional trauma: All over the world, including right here on Long Island, there’s been an enormous increase in acts of bias against Asian-Americans.
According to NBC News and the Center for Public Integrity, more than 30 percent of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus pandemic, with 60% of Asian-Americans reporting the same thing. Children of every age, along with adults, have been physically and verbally assaulted. Taunts such as “Go back to your country” and “Coronavirus is all your fault” have been common.
Kevin Sun of the Great Neck Chinese Association said his organization has had several reports from local families whose children have experienced harassment, including one recent incident where two sisters were cursed at by another group of middle schoolers, who also destroyed their bicycles. The girls are now afraid to leave home and go out in their own neighborhoods.
In response to this troubling situation, on September 10, 2020, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center presented a webinar titled “Anti-Asian Bias: What Parents Need to Know,” to discuss the traumatic situation and to provide useful information to our communities on how they can help their families when such incidents occur.
The panel, moderated by Andrew Malekoff, Executive Director of the Guidance Center, featured State Senator Anna Kaplan; Regina Barros-Rivera, Associate Executive Director of the Guidance Center; Christine Liu, the Vice Chair of the Nassau Asian American Advisory Council and a board member at the Chinese American Association of North Hempstead and Herricks Chinese Association; and ChenXin Xu, Board Member of the Great Neck Chinese Association and Founder, New York Music & Arts.
“Sadly, in every pandemic, a scapegoat is needed,” said Malekoff. “The ‘frozen moments’ [of traumatic harassment] stick with you for the rest of your life.”
State Senator Kaplan reported that her office has seen an escalation in reports of racism against Asian-Americans. “Bias and xenophobia have made the problems of the pandemic more severe. It’s going to take all of us working together to make sure are kids are protected.”
Kaplan encouraged those who’ve experienced any form of discrimination to contact her office at email@example.com or call (516) 746-5924.
Christine Liu described the treatment that Asian-American children are experiencing in our local communities. “Kids are being bullied, shunned and shamed,” she said.
Her advice: “We have to report every single instance of bias, no matter how big or small. Every time we fail to report, we lose the opportunity to seek justice and bring awareness to our community that anti-Asian bias exists in Nassau County.”
In addition to contacting Kaplan’s office, she recommended calling Nassau County’s Office of Asian-American Affairs at (516) 572-2244.
Liu also stresses the importance of recording situations of hate and bias from the moment they begin.
Barros-Rivera advised parents to listen to their children closely and to validate their feelings, asking them what happened, what they wanted to say and do and what they did.
“Parents should invite their child in for communication,” she said. “You want to help them develop a sense of competence and the ability to take care of themselves.” She also emphasized that they need to know they can talk to the parent, teacher or guidance counselor.
It’s also vital to teach your children that racist behavior or slurs of any type is not acceptable, and to be careful what you say in front of your children. “Kids learn from you,” said Barros-Rivera, “and they will take that in and share it on the outside.” One great way to encourage them to be anti-racist is to expose them to the outside world and different cultures.
A few days following the webinar, ChenXin Xu reported that the event received a tremendous amount of support from not only the Chinese community but the entire community of Great Neck. “This was a beginning for all community members and official leaders to shed a light on bias and discrimination toward Asian-American families. It opened up more dialogue, and unfortunately uncovered more unpleasant experiences that happened to children and adults on this very issue at home and social media. We hope and urge the local officials both from Nassau County as well as the school districts to emphasize and educate further.”
Kevin Sun said, “The webinar brought the community together to learn about an important topic during this tough period. All the panelists gave the community unwavering support as well as numerous valuable suggestions, ranging from how to empower kids when they face discrimination to how to deal with the psychological aftermath.”
If your child has experienced bias or harassment and is feeling depressed, anxious or frightened, contact North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center for help. Call (516) 626-1971 or visit www.northshorechildguidance.org.
Note: The free webinar was recorded and can be viewed by clicking here. It will be available in Chinese at a later date.
For more advice, check out this article from the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.
IMPORTANT TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WEBINAR:
- Report every single instance of bias, no matter how big or small.
- Advise your children to record these interactions as soon as they begin.
- Call 911 if the situation is dangerous and teach your children to do so.
- Give children age-appropriate facts about the virus, so they know no culture is responsible for the pandemic.
- Always encourage open dialogue with your children.
- Let them know racist behaviors are never acceptable.
- Model the behavior you want to see by being anti-racist yourself.
- Tell them they have nothing to be ashamed of and being bullied is not their fault.
- Teach them to stand up for themselves respectfully without escalating the situation further.
- Report incidences to your child’s school and teachers.
- Speak to your school about creating assemblies to combat racism.