Over the past year, there has been an alarming increase in anti-Asian sentiment and discrimination in the United States. The advocacy and hate reporting group Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate reports more than 6,600 hate incidents — including harassment, shunning, and physical attacks — since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Kids are also being targeted more frequently: as of September 2020, one in four Asian American youths reported experiencing racist bullying. And many experts believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Break the silence
“Research has found that Asian Americans are among the least likely to report hate incidents,” says Erica Lee, a psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital. “There are various reasons they remain silent, including the high value many Asian cultures place on maintaining social harmony. They may not speak out because they don’t want to bring more attention to themselves, burden their loved ones, or report to law enforcement.” These factors can make it harder for Asian Americans to advocate for themselves when they experience discrimination or racism.
Lee says this makes it important for parents to address the issue of anti-Asian hate and racism with their children. “Kids take their cues from parents. When parents are silent about racism it can make kids feel even more scared, alone and confused. We are not ‘shielding’ them by ignoring these issues, because they will fill in the gaps.”
Empower kids to speak up
Lee says Asian American parents and kids may also feel guilty about naming the racism they experience when they see more extreme or frequent racism occurring against those from other backgrounds. “Asian American kids may feel like they don’t have the right to be upset, because there are ‘worse’ things happening to others. But as parents, we need to try to teach them that their feelings and safety matter too, and it’s okay to speak up.”
Read the complete article at: Boston Children’s Hospital