UPDATE: No More Bullying

LATEST DEVELOPMENT: The Sikh Coalition, from initial press reports although not found on their website, seems to be demanding the perpetrator Garret Green should be charged as committing a hate crime.

Harsimran Kaur, staff attorney of Sikh Coalition, told IANS the school has told them that they have taken the harshest measures against the student who committed the atrocious act.

“But I am disappointed with the slow police response. The incident took place last Monday, and they interviewed the victim only Friday. They have also not taken us into confidence on the investigation,” Kaur said.[link]

The school district has objected to the label, citing the following:

Mr. Bolandi said one of the reasons district officials do not believe the incident was hate-related is that Mr. Green made no comments to the victim.

There was no discussion at all, he said. The victim didnt even know who did it. It took us an hour to figure that out, and eventually he admitted it.

Mr. Bolandi added that Mr. Green has had previous discipline issues in school. [link]

—————————————————————-

Last week a 16 year-old Sikh student at a New Jersey high school was attacked while waiting outside with friends for a fire drill to end. An 18-year-old Hightstown senior, Garrett Green, came up from behind the Sikh student and lit his patka on fire.

His hair was singed in several places, but he was otherwise unhurt, according to his uncle, Harjot Pannu.

He felt like a bee stung him, and he patted on it,” said Pannu. “Next thing he knew, a teacher came over and told him he was on fire. [link]

Luckily the boy was not physically harmed.

Garrett Green has since been arrested and charged with arson and criminal mischief. Unfortunately, the reaction by teachers seems to have been less than desirable.

I spoke to the cop who went out there and the cop told me the teacher didn’t take it seriously,” said Pannu. “She thought it was a prank. To me it is not a prank. It is life-threatening. [link]

The Sikh Coalition has admirably connected itself with the family and the school to make sure that corrective measures are taken. Pointing to a longer history of this type of bullying on school campuses, especially in New Jersey, the Sikh Coalition has suggested the following:

The Sikh Coalition calls on Hightstown High School to take immediate action to address this incident with the school community. Specifically, we recommend that Hightstown High School conduct a school assembly to explain what happened and why the attacker’s behavior was especially atrocious; publish an article about the incident in the school newsletter; include information about Sikhs in its social studies curriculum; mandate teacher-led discussions regarding the issue in homeroom period; and do its utmost to ensure that the attacker is held accountable for his actions. [link]

The Sikh Coalition has a wonderful internet tool, which was previously discussed on this blog, called Khalsa Kids that seeks to address the problem of bullying against Sikhs in schools.

As a person that has both (not proud to admit it) been a bully as well as has been bullied, what are your thoughts on the Sikh Coalitions diagnosis? For those that may have been bullies, what do you think may have stopped you from picking on others? For those of you that may have been bullied, what steps do you feel shouldve been taken both preventative and after-the-fact? Any thing you would add/subtract to the Coalitions recommendations?


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54 Responses to “UPDATE: No More Bullying”

  1. Reema says:

    Is the teacher MAD? Pranks don't involve setting people on fire!

    The teacher herself needs to be reprimanded for not taking the incident seriously, and educated about Sikhs and Sikh articles of faith, if she thinks setting a patka on fire is a prank.

    If a Jewish yarmulke had been set on fire while on a poor student's head, would this teacher also have considered that a prank? If she would, then her disrespect for Sikhs is unacceptable, and if she would not have- then she should clearly not be teaching.

    Outrageous.

  2. kprincess says:

    I think it's important that the Sikh Coalition is working to bring about awareness, this should be helpful. Parents should definitely do their part. I remember when my cousin was getting picked on at school for wearing a patka (by another sikh girl – can you believe that), my aunt went to school and talked to the teachers. She also spoke to the girls mom and the girl stopped. But she also told my cousin about what to say if people question him about why he wears his hair like that. Thinking about it, she was teaching him to have confidence in his beliefs. So if that girl or others continued to tease him, he would stand up and say why he looks the way he does, and it's his choice whether people like it or not. I do think self confidence goes a long way, if you can calmly respond to someone they usually back off. But when they sense your vulnerability, they just push further and further. As to the physical abuse, you're gonna face it one time or another. You can takes steps to prevent it, but you should be able to defend yourself if someone hits you . . . after all we're Sikhs. Justified self defense is allowed.

  3. Reema says:

    Is the teacher MAD? Pranks don’t involve setting people on fire!

    The teacher herself needs to be reprimanded for not taking the incident seriously, and educated about Sikhs and Sikh articles of faith, if she thinks setting a patka on fire is a prank.

    If a Jewish yarmulke had been set on fire while on a poor student’s head, would this teacher also have considered that a prank? If she would, then her disrespect for Sikhs is unacceptable, and if she would not have- then she should clearly not be teaching.

    Outrageous.

  4. kprincess says:

    I think it’s important that the Sikh Coalition is working to bring about awareness, this should be helpful. Parents should definitely do their part. I remember when my cousin was getting picked on at school for wearing a patka (by another sikh girl – can you believe that), my aunt went to school and talked to the teachers. She also spoke to the girls mom and the girl stopped. But she also told my cousin about what to say if people question him about why he wears his hair like that. Thinking about it, she was teaching him to have confidence in his beliefs. So if that girl or others continued to tease him, he would stand up and say why he looks the way he does, and it’s his choice whether people like it or not. I do think self confidence goes a long way, if you can calmly respond to someone they usually back off. But when they sense your vulnerability, they just push further and further. As to the physical abuse, you’re gonna face it one time or another. You can takes steps to prevent it, but you should be able to defend yourself if someone hits you . . . after all we’re Sikhs. Justified self defense is allowed.

  5. Anandica says:

    I think SSA's (Sikh Student Associations) need to extend their role and begin to incorporate deliverance of education. Ignorance instigates these situations of bullying and intolerance. It is a shame that such a violent, harassing generation of youth is being raised in today's society. I wonder how these parents of these bullies raise their children!!

    I think the Sikh Coalition is doing a great deal to facilitate preventative measures, and I applaud their efforts. But I strongly believe we as a Sikh generation need to be more involved in inviting Non-Sikhs to Sikh events in order for them to begin to feel what our community stands for. Events such as Nagar Kirtan, Baisakhi, even youth camps are great places for us to reach out in order to educate.

    Malcolm Forbes – "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

  6. Anandica says:

    I think SSA’s (Sikh Student Associations) need to extend their role and begin to incorporate deliverance of education. Ignorance instigates these situations of bullying and intolerance. It is a shame that such a violent, harassing generation of youth is being raised in today’s society. I wonder how these parents of these bullies raise their children!!
    I think the Sikh Coalition is doing a great deal to facilitate preventative measures, and I applaud their efforts. But I strongly believe we as a Sikh generation need to be more involved in inviting Non-Sikhs to Sikh events in order for them to begin to feel what our community stands for. Events such as Nagar Kirtan, Baisakhi, even youth camps are great places for us to reach out in order to educate.

    Malcolm Forbes – “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”

  7. Phulkari says:

    One of the interesting parts of this case of bullying is that the bully is 18 years old! If at 18 you are lighting someone's patka (which you can see covers their head) on fire you may have other issues that need to be immediately addressed.

    FYI Ms. High School Teacher: There is a major difference between playful/innocent "picking" and trying to light someone's head on fire!

    I think we need to also look into the psychology of bullying … most often those bullying have their own insecurities and fears that they are trying to manage by picking on someone who they perceive as being vulnerable/easy and less likely to fight back with any thrust … bullies often have been victims of bullying themselves. When you’ve been made to feel insecure, particularly as a child, you pick on someone who you think is also insecure to feel good about yourself.

    I applaud the Sikh Coalition for their efforts! I wonder if they have taken into consideration the research behind bullying when developing their materials to prevent future bullying (i.e. lack of knowledge about different communities and the emotional/social issues around bullying jointly influence the acts of bullies).

    Also, I am wondering if Green’s bullying is any different from a hate crime?

  8. Phulkari says:

    One of the interesting parts of this case of bullying is that the bully is 18 years old! If at 18 you are lighting someone’s patka (which you can see covers their head) on fire you may have other issues that need to be immediately addressed.

    FYI Ms. High School Teacher: There is a major difference between playful/innocent “picking” and trying to light someone’s head on fire!

    I think we need to also look into the psychology of bullying … most often those bullying have their own insecurities and fears that they are trying to manage by picking on someone who they perceive as being vulnerable/easy and less likely to fight back with any thrust … bullies often have been victims of bullying themselves. When youve been made to feel insecure, particularly as a child, you pick on someone who you think is also insecure to feel good about yourself.

    I applaud the Sikh Coalition for their efforts! I wonder if they have taken into consideration the research behind bullying when developing their materials to prevent future bullying (i.e. lack of knowledge about different communities and the emotional/social issues around bullying jointly influence the acts of bullies).

    Also, I am wondering if Greens bullying is any different from a hate crime?

  9. Joolz says:

    He acknowledged that violence may not have been the best approach to take, but with a police force that didn’t care, and no one else to turn to, violence really was the only approach that produced results at the time.

    Thank goodness that's not the case now, eh?

    [Joolz/Bobby/Suzy Kaur, we have a policy against using multiple handles. Please stick to ONE name. This is your first warning. -Admin Singh]

  10. P.Singh says:

    I can speak to my own experience growing up as the only Sikh kid through most of elementary school, and the only turbaned Sikh through junior high and high school.

    I believe it is a person's response to bullying when it happens, that largely determines whether bullying will continue. The best response to bullying? I'm sure I will get flak for this, but in my opinion, immediate aggression and violence is, hands-down, the best response to bullying in school, and the best way to ensure bullying stops.

    You don't have to be a great fighter, you just have to show aggression and be willing to fight. Bullies don't pick on kids who throw punches at the drop of a dime – they're are easier kids to pick on. It only takes one or two aggressive responses to bullying, and you're pretty much home-free for the rest of your school years.

    I realize that violence as a response to bullying in school is inadequate on many levels. For one, there are many sweet, gentle-hearted kids out there that simply do not have the temperament to respond aggressively and abhor the thought of fighting – that is fine. However, while violence may not be appropriate for all individuals and for all situations, it is difficult for me to dismiss the effectiveness of violence as a response to bullying.

  11. P.Singh says:

    With regards to the Sikh Coalition's efforts, I think they are doing an amazing job, and hope they are successful in this endeavor. Perhaps education coupled with strict disciplinary action is the key to creating an environment of understanding and tolerance…and an environment where bullies are frowned upon and considered "not cool".

    I was talking with an uncle on his experiences going to high school in the 70's…rough times.

    He came to Canada in his teens and went to high school in the interior of British Columbia. He said there were a handful of Sikhs at the school, and they would get harrassed by the other kids. The bullying kept escalating and one night, kids from school broke the windows of his house. Uncle and his friends had enough. The next morning, they went to school early, and hid hockey sticks, bats, in the snow, and waited for lunch break. At lunch break, they then proceeded to beat the snot out of the 'goray' kids responsible. He said that was the last time those kids did anything.

    He also mentioned, and other older Sikhs have said the same, in the 70's and early 80's, older Sikhs would routinely have their turbans ripped off. Uncle said that this stopped happening almost immediately after apnay started 'educating' their fellow Canadians with bats and pipes.

    He acknowledged that violence may not have been the best approach to take, but with a police force that didn't care, and no one else to turn to, violence really was the only approach that produced results at the time.

  12. P.Singh says:

    I can speak to my own experience growing up as the only Sikh kid through most of elementary school, and the only turbaned Sikh through junior high and high school.

    I believe it is a person’s response to bullying when it happens, that largely determines whether bullying will continue. The best response to bullying? I’m sure I will get flak for this, but in my opinion, immediate aggression and violence is, hands-down, the best response to bullying in school, and the best way to ensure bullying stops.

    You don’t have to be a great fighter, you just have to show aggression and be willing to fight. Bullies don’t pick on kids who throw punches at the drop of a dime – they’re are easier kids to pick on. It only takes one or two aggressive responses to bullying, and you’re pretty much home-free for the rest of your school years.

    I realize that violence as a response to bullying in school is inadequate on many levels. For one, there are many sweet, gentle-hearted kids out there that simply do not have the temperament to respond aggressively and abhor the thought of fighting – that is fine. However, while violence may not be appropriate for all individuals and for all situations, it is difficult for me to dismiss the effectiveness of violence as a response to bullying.

  13. P.Singh says:

    With regards to the Sikh Coalition’s efforts, I think they are doing an amazing job, and hope they are successful in this endeavor. Perhaps education coupled with strict disciplinary action is the key to creating an environment of understanding and tolerance…and an environment where bullies are frowned upon and considered “not cool”.

    I was talking with an uncle on his experiences going to high school in the 70’s…rough times.

    He came to Canada in his teens and went to high school in the interior of British Columbia. He said there were a handful of Sikhs at the school, and they would get harrassed by the other kids. The bullying kept escalating and one night, kids from school broke the windows of his house. Uncle and his friends had enough. The next morning, they went to school early, and hid hockey sticks, bats, in the snow, and waited for lunch break. At lunch break, they then proceeded to beat the snot out of the ‘goray’ kids responsible. He said that was the last time those kids did anything.

    He also mentioned, and other older Sikhs have said the same, in the 70’s and early 80’s, older Sikhs would routinely have their turbans ripped off. Uncle said that this stopped happening almost immediately after apnay started ‘educating’ their fellow Canadians with bats and pipes.

    He acknowledged that violence may not have been the best approach to take, but with a police force that didn’t care, and no one else to turn to, violence really was the only approach that produced results at the time.

  14. Joolz says:

    He acknowledged that violence may not have been the best approach to take, but with a police force that didnt care, and no one else to turn to, violence really was the only approach that produced results at the time.

    Thank goodness that’s not the case now, eh?

    [Joolz/Bobby/Suzy Kaur, we have a policy against using multiple handles. Please stick to ONE name. This is your first warning. -Admin Singh]

  15. Phulkari says:

    Joolz as much as I wish I could agree that it’s not the case, I have to disagree.

    In a school, your teacher is usually the first-line of defense in terms of school authority … however, in the bullying case mentioned in this post … Ms. High School Teacher is viewing it as just a “prank” … that tells you a lot about her notion of “caring” about bullying.

    P.Singh,

    I agree you need to know how to defend yourself physically as a form of defense (I would say when all else has failed), but not offense. Many bullies just need to know you will go there if need be.

    kprincess,

    You highlight an interesting point when your cousin was being picked on for his patka by another Sikh girl. Why do Sikhs hate on other Sikhs for their religious symbols/beliefs? I have heard about similar cases taking place in elementary through high school. Keshdari and non-keshdari Sikhs just hate on each other for keeping their hair, being “mouna”, or eating/not eating meat. What does this tell us about bullying and the divisive dynamics within our own community … let alone bullying from non-Sikhs?

  16. P.Singh says:

    P.Singh,

    I agree you need to know how to defend yourself physically as a form of defense (I would say when all else has failed), but not offense. Many bullies just need to know you will go there if need be.

    Phulkari, I think we agree – bullies tend not to pick on those kids who are willing to fight back.

    With regards to bullying amongst Sikhs, I didn't hear about any such incidences until university, prior to which all of my friends were non-Sikhs. For that matter, I knew very little about castes until university.

    A university friend told me of the horrible time he had at Khalsa School (Surrey) in his elementary school years. Essentially, he was a non-jatt, and from a young age, his classmates taunted him with that – making sure he knew that they were 'higher' than him, better than him, while his teachers ignored the situation.

    In one northern B.C. high school, I found out there was some degree of conflict between 'rajput' Sikhs and 'jatt' Sikhs…I know – it still blows my mind we haven't gotten over castes.

    In contrast, my experience as the only patka-wearing Sikh in elementary was much, much more positive, and the environment was more collegial.

  17. Phulkari says:

    Joolz as much as I wish I could agree that its not the case, I have to disagree.

    In a school, your teacher is usually the first-line of defense in terms of school authority however, in the bullying case mentioned in this post Ms. High School Teacher is viewing it as just a prank that tells you a lot about her notion of caring about bullying.

    P.Singh,

    I agree you need to know how to defend yourself physically as a form of defense (I would say when all else has failed), but not offense. Many bullies just need to know you will go there if need be.

    kprincess,

    You highlight an interesting point when your cousin was being picked on for his patka by another Sikh girl. Why do Sikhs hate on other Sikhs for their religious symbols/beliefs? I have heard about similar cases taking place in elementary through high school. Keshdari and non-keshdari Sikhs just hate on each other for keeping their hair, being mouna, or eating/not eating meat. What does this tell us about bullying and the divisive dynamics within our own community let alone bullying from non-Sikhs?

  18. Reema says:

    The next morning, they went to school early, and hid hockey sticks, bats, in the snow, and waited for lunch break. At lunch break, they then proceeded to beat the snot out of the ‘goray’ kids responsible.

    P. Singh, I think what Phulkari was trying to say was that "beating the snot" out of someone crosses the line of showing that you're willing to fight back to becoming the aggressors themselves– these guys haven't stopped any bullying, the roles have just been reversed.

    Stopping someone from pushing you around doesn't mean you have to beat the snot out of them– that might be easy, but DEFINITELY not the best policy for us all in the long-term, and definitely not something that should be advocated. Hockey sticks and bats can't be the answer.

    I'm sure there are a lot of factors that go into how much you need to fight back to get someone else to back down, but hockey sticks and bats definitely seem overly aggressive, and into the territory of just more unnecessary violence.

    That's the problem with violence, people get so carried away, it's so rarely controlled, and there's always collateral damage.

  19. P.Singh says:

    P.Singh,

    I agree you need to know how to defend yourself physically as a form of defense (I would say when all else has failed), but not offense. Many bullies just need to know you will go there if need be.

    Phulkari, I think we agree – bullies tend not to pick on those kids who are willing to fight back.

    With regards to bullying amongst Sikhs, I didn’t hear about any such incidences until university, prior to which all of my friends were non-Sikhs. For that matter, I knew very little about castes until university.

    A university friend told me of the horrible time he had at Khalsa School (Surrey) in his elementary school years. Essentially, he was a non-jatt, and from a young age, his classmates taunted him with that – making sure he knew that they were ‘higher’ than him, better than him, while his teachers ignored the situation.

    In one northern B.C. high school, I found out there was some degree of conflict between ‘rajput’ Sikhs and ‘jatt’ Sikhs…I know – it still blows my mind we haven’t gotten over castes.

    In contrast, my experience as the only patka-wearing Sikh in elementary was much, much more positive, and the environment was more collegial.

  20. Mewa Singh says:

    I understand your hesitation Reema, but I am going to back up P.Singh. You cannot compare the racism that is experienced in Canada/US/UK now compared to the sheer scale and tenacity as that experienced by Sikhs in those respective countries that were here in the 1950s/60s/70s. Listen to their stories. They are simply harrowing. This is pre-civil rights era or just after the laws were enacted. It was a different time and a different place. P.Singh's uncle probably has no regrets and I am sure that the bullying stopped soon afterwards. The roles were not reversed. I doubt P.Singh's uncle would have taunted the gorays afterwards. The 'lesson was taught' that should the goray continue, there would be consequences. It is not the same.

  21. Reema says:

    The next morning, they went to school early, and hid hockey sticks, bats, in the snow, and waited for lunch break. At lunch break, they then proceeded to beat the snot out of the goray kids responsible.

    P. Singh, I think what Phulkari was trying to say was that “beating the snot” out of someone crosses the line of showing that you’re willing to fight back to becoming the aggressors themselves– these guys haven’t stopped any bullying, the roles have just been reversed.

    Stopping someone from pushing you around doesn’t mean you have to beat the snot out of them– that might be easy, but DEFINITELY not the best policy for us all in the long-term, and definitely not something that should be advocated. Hockey sticks and bats can’t be the answer.

    I’m sure there are a lot of factors that go into how much you need to fight back to get someone else to back down, but hockey sticks and bats definitely seem overly aggressive, and into the territory of just more unnecessary violence.

    That’s the problem with violence, people get so carried away, it’s so rarely controlled, and there’s always collateral damage.

  22. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I appreciate what you're saying, and ideally, there would be no need for any violence. However, in my uncle's situation, the schoolyard bullying had moved from assaults on his person to assaults on his home. Imagine how that would feel. My house used to get egged regularly when I was in early elementary…until my dad and his younger brother decided to take things into their own hands. They waited for the high school kids out in the woods behind our house, with an axe and a shotgun, and put the fear of God into the bigots. No one got axed, and no one got shot, but the eggings sure decreased.

    In my uncle's situation, ideally, he could have counted on police to act diligently. Ideally, the school would have prevented the bullying in its' premises, and ideally all of the kids would have gotten along. Uncle was not in an ideal situation. It is too easy to pass judgment on his actions from our vantage point now, divorced from the environment and times he was living in. He took the actions he felt necessary to stop what was happening. Wrong or right, they had the desired result. The bullying stopped.

    If he had then taken to beating on white kids regularly, only then would I agree the roles had been reversed.

  23. Mewa Singh says:

    I understand your hesitation Reema, but I am going to back up P.Singh. You cannot compare the racism that is experienced in Canada/US/UK now compared to the sheer scale and tenacity as that experienced by Sikhs in those respective countries that were here in the 1950s/60s/70s. Listen to their stories. They are simply harrowing. This is pre-civil rights era or just after the laws were enacted. It was a different time and a different place. P.Singh’s uncle probably has no regrets and I am sure that the bullying stopped soon afterwards. The roles were not reversed. I doubt P.Singh’s uncle would have taunted the gorays afterwards. The ‘lesson was taught’ that should the goray continue, there would be consequences. It is not the same.

  24. P.Singh says:

    Stopping someone from pushing you around doesn’t mean you have to beat the snot out of them– that might be easy, but DEFINITELY not the best policy for us all in the long-term, and definitely not something that should be advocated.

    Reema, I don't disagree in principle: there needs to be a broader policy to address bullying, and perhaps, that is where education plays a role. However, on an individual level, it is difficult for me to see how "beating the snot" out of a bully doesn't work; I have not been involved in many such situations, but I've seen enough to know that it does work.

    I recall my younger brother getting picked on briefly (i.e. two incidents) in elementary school by an older kid. The bully was in my sister's class. She found out and promptly "beat the snot" out of the guy – literally – she punched him in the nose once or twice. My brother never got picked on again.

    Advocating this kind of response to bullying leaves an unpleasant taste, and I am, admittedly, not entirely comfortable doing so, for fear my comments will be taken too broadly; however, it would be disingenuous to put forward my opinion on this matter, and not discuss what I have seen in 'real life'.

    Mewa Singh – agreed, and agreed. Sikhs from those generations put up with stuff we can hardly imagine.

  25. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I appreciate what you’re saying, and ideally, there would be no need for any violence. However, in my uncle’s situation, the schoolyard bullying had moved from assaults on his person to assaults on his home. Imagine how that would feel. My house used to get egged regularly when I was in early elementaryuntil my dad and his younger brother decided to take things into their own hands. They waited for the high school kids out in the woods behind our house, with an axe and a shotgun, and put the fear of God into the bigots. No one got axed, and no one got shot, but the eggings sure decreased.

    In my uncle’s situation, ideally, he could have counted on police to act diligently. Ideally, the school would have prevented the bullying in its’ premises, and ideally all of the kids would have gotten along. Uncle was not in an ideal situation. It is too easy to pass judgment on his actions from our vantage point now, divorced from the environment and times he was living in. He took the actions he felt necessary to stop what was happening. Wrong or right, they had the desired result. The bullying stopped.

    If he had then taken to beating on white kids regularly, only then would I agree the roles had been reversed.

  26. P.Singh says:

    Stopping someone from pushing you around doesnt mean you have to beat the snot out of them that might be easy, but DEFINITELY not the best policy for us all in the long-term, and definitely not something that should be advocated.

    Reema, I don’t disagree in principle: there needs to be a broader policy to address bullying, and perhaps, that is where education plays a role. However, on an individual level, it is difficult for me to see how “beating the snot” out of a bully doesn’t work; I have not been involved in many such situations, but I’ve seen enough to know that it does work.

    I recall my younger brother getting picked on briefly (i.e. two incidents) in elementary school by an older kid. The bully was in my sister’s class. She found out and promptly “beat the snot” out of the guy – literally – she punched him in the nose once or twice. My brother never got picked on again.

    Advocating this kind of response to bullying leaves an unpleasant taste, and I am, admittedly, not entirely comfortable doing so, for fear my comments will be taken too broadly; however, it would be disingenuous to put forward my opinion on this matter, and not discuss what I have seen in ‘real life’.

    Mewa Singh – agreed, and agreed. Sikhs from those generations put up with stuff we can hardly imagine.

  27. […] that if you hate it you can rip me and my recommendation here completely unedited without me and P.Singh’s uncle coming after […]

  28. baingandabhartha says:

    Agree with P.Singh. No need getting bent over by bigots. I would not term it aggression. Defending your home and self is not aggression. Non-violence has its limits. "laaton key bhoot baaton sey nahin maantey".

    I didnt go to high school here, so I cant speak to that, but my children will and that makes me sweat sometimes.

  29. baingandabhartha says:

    Agree with P.Singh. No need getting bent over by bigots. I would not term it aggression. Defending your home and self is not aggression. Non-violence has its limits. “laaton key bhoot baaton sey nahin maantey”.

    I didnt go to high school here, so I cant speak to that, but my children will and that makes me sweat sometimes.

  30. Phulkari says:

    Reema,

    While I completely sympathize with your statement, I think P.Singh's Uncle was justified in his actions considering the context in which he was bullied. Yes, you don't always have to "beat the snout" out of someone to show them that you can defend yourself … violence does not always need to be countered with equal or greater violence to make a statement. However, with the lack of institutional support to help mediate the impact of bullying and tremendous amount of overt discrimination during that time, P. Singh's Uncle and friends had no choice but to take matters into their own hands and make the loudest and strongest statement possible. When institutions chose not to do anything serious about children of color being bullied and protecting minorities from other overt and deadly forms of discrimination during that time, it was clear who they were aligning their power with: the goray. Thus, you knew there wasn’t much protection for you … so why bicker and fight the goray bullies everyday and endure more pain and suffering … just do what you need to do to make sure it does not happen again.

  31. Phulkari says:

    Reema,

    While I completely sympathize with your statement, I think P.Singh’s Uncle was justified in his actions considering the context in which he was bullied. Yes, you don’t always have to “beat the snout” out of someone to show them that you can defend yourself … violence does not always need to be countered with equal or greater violence to make a statement. However, with the lack of institutional support to help mediate the impact of bullying and tremendous amount of overt discrimination during that time, P. Singh’s Uncle and friends had no choice but to take matters into their own hands and make the loudest and strongest statement possible. When institutions chose not to do anything serious about children of color being bullied and protecting minorities from other overt and deadly forms of discrimination during that time, it was clear who they were aligning their power with: the goray. Thus, you knew there wasnt much protection for you … so why bicker and fight the goray bullies everyday and endure more pain and suffering … just do what you need to do to make sure it does not happen again.

  32. Reema says:

    P. Singh,

    I don't fully understand the context in which your uncle was acting (as Mewa picked up on), the families I grew up with migrated in the 80s. I didn't mean to judge your uncle's actions through the lens of today (or at all, for that matter).

    But through today's lens and for today's kids– I think the Coalition has the right response- a systemic one.

    P. – I'm torn about your distinction between an individual and systemic response. I do understand the need for an individual response, even if the systemic (like what the Coalition is doing) is enough to stop the bullying. But rather than punch back, I'd like to see "wrong" actions judged by society.

    It's not just about what works- but about what's right or just. The strength required to exercise self-restraint is undervalued. But on the other hand, if actually fighting back is the only way the person will learn…then maybe that's just, maybe you're doing them a favor.

    Maybe it's been too long since the days my braids were pulled in the hallways and I'm just out of touch with this scenario…

  33. Reema says:

    P. Singh,

    I don’t fully understand the context in which your uncle was acting (as Mewa picked up on), the families I grew up with migrated in the 80s. I didn’t mean to judge your uncle’s actions through the lens of today (or at all, for that matter).

    But through today’s lens and for today’s kids– I think the Coalition has the right response- a systemic one.

    P. – I’m torn about your distinction between an individual and systemic response. I do understand the need for an individual response, even if the systemic (like what the Coalition is doing) is enough to stop the bullying. But rather than punch back, I’d like to see “wrong” actions judged by society.

    It’s not just about what works- but about what’s right or just. The strength required to exercise self-restraint is undervalued. But on the other hand, if actually fighting back is the only way the person will learn…then maybe that’s just, maybe you’re doing them a favor.

    Maybe it’s been too long since the days my braids were pulled in the hallways and I’m just out of touch with this scenario…

  34. Suki says:

    One thing that is starting to worry me is that from what I've seen lately in the punjabi sikh community. Is that some are to fast to use violonce to solve our problems with this and other issues.

    http://www.voiceonline.com/voice/080503/headline9

  35. Suki says:

    One thing that is starting to worry me is that from what I’ve seen lately in the punjabi sikh community. Is that some are to fast to use violonce to solve our problems with this and other issues.

    http://www.voiceonline.com/voice/080503/headline9.php

  36. Phulkari says:

    An Update On The Incident: The Sikh Coalition publicly announced today that Highstown High School's Superintendent has permanently removed Garrett Green from their school because of her bullying actions.

    In addition, Green has been served with a hate crime compliant.

    Yesterday, on May 14, the Highstown Police Chief informed the Sikh Coalition's staff attorney via e-mail that the perpetrator had been served with a bias crime complaint.

    According to the Sikh Coalition:

    The hate crime complaint is now with the Mercer County Prosecutor's office. The County Prosecutor will determine whether and how to move forward with hate crime charges. The Coalition requests the Mercer County Prosecutor's office to carefully review this matter.

    The Coaliton believes this case of bullying is a hate crime because:

    “ … the perpetrator chose a Sikh student to light on fire and also chose to light his turban on fire instead of any other part of his body.”

    Although disappointed with the lag-time it took the school and the police force to react seriously to this issue (basically these two institutions did not earnestly react until the incident was made public), the Sikh Coalition is working with Highstown High School to develop a school-wide program on the incident.

    Any thoughts?

  37. Phulkari says:

    An Update On The Incident: The Sikh Coalition publicly announced today that Highstown High School’s Superintendent has permanently removed Garrett Green from their school because of her bullying actions.

    In addition, Green has been served with a hate crime compliant.

    Yesterday, on May 14, the Highstown Police Chief informed the Sikh Coalition’s staff attorney via e-mail that the perpetrator had been served with a bias crime complaint.

    According to the Sikh Coalition:

    The hate crime complaint is now with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office. The County Prosecutor will determine whether and how to move forward with hate crime charges. The Coalition requests the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office to carefully review this matter.

    The Coaliton believes this case of bullying is a hate crime because:

    the perpetrator chose a Sikh student to light on fire and also chose to light his turban on fire instead of any other part of his body.

    Although disappointed with the lag-time it took the school and the police force to react seriously to this issue (basically these two institutions did not earnestly react until the incident was made public), the Sikh Coalition is working with Highstown High School to develop a school-wide program on the incident.

    Any thoughts?

  38. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I don't disagree with most of what you are saying – policy of education may well be the best approach to reducing or eliminating such bullying, and creating a culture that abhors the bullying being discussed.

    It’s not just about what works- but about what’s right or just. The strength required to exercise self-restraint is undervalued. But on the other hand, if actually fighting back is the only way the person will learn…then maybe that’s just, maybe you’re doing them a favor.

    To some extent, I think we'll have to disagree on this point. When it comes to stopping bullying, I think it is largely about what works and that it is too much to expect a child who is being victimized to assess concepts of righteousness, justice, or broader systemic policy when responding to bullying. Similarly, self-restraint is an admirable trait in many situations; however, in my experience, it is nigh useless in the face of bullying.

    Perhaps others can chime in as to what they have seen as effective responses, and it may be that what I have witnessed, and to some extent have experienced, is an anomaly. Please note, I am speaking of responses in the school environment.

  39. P.Singh says:

    Whenever the topic of bullying comes up, the tragic, heart-breaking story of Vijay Singh always comes to mind.

    Vijay was the 13 year old boy from Manchester, England who hanged himself due to bullying. I often wonder how different his story would have been, if he’d learned how to fight, or if he had a few cousins/friends who could have stepped in and pounded on the bullies at his school.

    At school, he wrote the following poem:

    'I'm scared and worried. I feel shaky and cold. My whole body has frozen solid. The beat of my heart goes faster as they come towards me'

    The last entry in his diary, before he killed himself:

    Monday: my money was taken.

    Tuesday: names called.

    Wednesday: my uniform torn.

    Thursday: my body pouring with blood.

    Friday: it's ended.

    Saturday: freedom.

  40. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I don’t disagree with most of what you are saying – policy of education may well be the best approach to reducing or eliminating such bullying, and creating a culture that abhors the bullying being discussed.

    Its not just about what works- but about whats right or just. The strength required to exercise self-restraint is undervalued. But on the other hand, if actually fighting back is the only way the person will learnthen maybe thats just, maybe youre doing them a favor.

    To some extent, I think we’ll have to disagree on this point. When it comes to stopping bullying, I think it is largely about what works and that it is too much to expect a child who is being victimized to assess concepts of righteousness, justice, or broader systemic policy when responding to bullying. Similarly, self-restraint is an admirable trait in many situations; however, in my experience, it is nigh useless in the face of bullying.

    Perhaps others can chime in as to what they have seen as effective responses, and it may be that what I have witnessed, and to some extent have experienced, is an anomaly. Please note, I am speaking of responses in the school environment.

  41. P.Singh says:

    Whenever the topic of bullying comes up, the tragic, heart-breaking story of Vijay Singh always comes to mind.

    Vijay was the 13 year old boy from Manchester, England who hanged himself due to bullying. I often wonder how different his story would have been, if hed learned how to fight, or if he had a few cousins/friends who could have stepped in and pounded on the bullies at his school.

    At school, he wrote the following poem:

    ‘I’m scared and worried. I feel shaky and cold. My whole body has frozen solid. The beat of my heart goes faster as they come towards me’

    The last entry in his diary, before he killed himself:

    Monday: my money was taken.
    Tuesday: names called.
    Wednesday: my uniform torn.
    Thursday: my body pouring with blood.
    Friday: it’s ended.
    Saturday: freedom.

  42. […] for me the problem runs much deeper. I cannot help but draw a link between this incident and the patka burning incident from last week. In America, there seems to be a domestic policy promoting Islamophobia. […]

  43. […] target practice is horrific and despicable. But it was the act of a single individual. Similarly, Green’s act, and also his teacher’s reaction were acts of […]

  44. Karmvir Singh Benipa says:

    I go to school with this kid. This kid is a very nice kid and barely speaks to anyone. He is also very smart. The kid that had set his patka on fire is a pot head and has serious mental problems. He made a kid lick a garbage can and sit in it last year. This kid is basically out of his mind. He thinks its "cool" to do all this but seriously its not. I don't think he would appreciate it if someone went up to his nasty as braids that probably have never been washed for years and set it on fire. I am really happy that the SSA is taking a big roll in this case. The school had the homeroom teachers explain about the Sikh culture and basically most of the kids understand it. When I had a Patka I used to get picked on. But at the same time when i got picked on I showed them what it means to me by stuffing one of there faces into the toilet and messed up the other kid pretty bad. I know its not right to take those kind of actions but I don't think these immature mindless people will ever understand what our culture means to us if we don't do it the right way. If I had gone to the administration they would have suspended him for a few days and the kid would have come back and started the stupid stuff again. I one again applaud and thank the SSA for taking a big roll in this situation.

  45. Karmvir Singh Benipal says:

    I go to school with this kid. This kid is a very nice kid and barely speaks to anyone. He is also very smart. The kid that had set his patka on fire is a pot head and has serious mental problems. He made a kid lick a garbage can and sit in it last year. This kid is basically out of his mind. He thinks its “cool” to do all this but seriously its not. I don’t think he would appreciate it if someone went up to his nasty as braids that probably have never been washed for years and set it on fire. I am really happy that the SSA is taking a big roll in this case. The school had the homeroom teachers explain about the Sikh culture and basically most of the kids understand it. When I had a Patka I used to get picked on. But at the same time when i got picked on I showed them what it means to me by stuffing one of there faces into the toilet and messed up the other kid pretty bad. I know its not right to take those kind of actions but I don’t think these immature mindless people will ever understand what our culture means to us if we don’t do it the right way. If I had gone to the administration they would have suspended him for a few days and the kid would have come back and started the stupid stuff again. I one again applaud and thank the SSA for taking a big roll in this situation.

  46. […] of us have taken part in discussions on how the turban is being commodified and a target for hatred. Understandably there is a strong religious argument for why a turban shouldnt become another […]

  47. […] had a lot of discussion recently about various forms of identity discrimination. It seems that the UN is also paying attention to racial discrimination in the US: A […]

  48. Livtar Singh says:

    Sounds like everyone got their own Karma.

    Just a little reminder that all of life is test and trial, all part of the journey of the soul.

  49. Livtar Singh says:

    Sounds like everyone got their own Karma.

    Just a little reminder that all of life is test and trial, all part of the journey of the soul.

  50. […] the recent brutal harassment of a high schooler in New Jersey which made international (Indian) news, some Sikhs in Jersey feel […]

  51. […] violence against Sikhs in New York that the Sikh Coalition tracks, and reports is a representation/reflection of the violence that young Sikh students undergo in […]

  52. Cathryn Fugh says:

    Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this site.

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