Sikh Scouts: a response to bullying

Many students face physical and psychological bullying in schools- elementary, middle, and high. But Sikh students, male and female, often face especially severe bullying. Over the past couple years, some severe cases have come intosikh_scouts_2.jpg the public eye, including one teenager’s patka being set on fire, and others whose hair was forcibly cut. For statistics on the prevalence of harassment against Sikh students in New York schools, check out the Coalition’s report, “Hatred in the Hallways.”

One pro-active student at Baruch College (of the City University of New York) has come up with a simple and creative way to provide support to kids facing harassment. Through his school’s Sikh Student Association, he started a mentoring program called Sikh Scouts. The students, aged 5-12 are paired with older Sikhs of the same gender, and go on a day’s outing together.

Sikh Scouts is essentially a small-scale Sikh youth mentoring event that aims to forge and develop a long-lasting relationship with children in need of good Sikh role models to help them guide them on the path of Sikhi. [link]

One of the students from Baruch that participated in the program wrote about the experience.

After they warmed up to us and broke through their initial shyness, the kids couldn’t stop talking about their favorite movies, TV shows and music – the Jonas Brothers and what not. And in between all of that, we got down to the serious issues: a majority of the kids did not enjoy school and felt uncomfortable because of harassment or teasing by their peers. [link]

There might not be much that anyone, including the older Sikh Scouts, can do to make the bullying stop- after all, kids will be kids. But what we older Sikh students can do for our younger counterparts is to be a source of strength, share insights about why it’s important to be comfortable with who you are whether it fits someone else’s definition of cool or not, and be there to offer advice for specific situations. There are things we’ve learned in hindsight that can benefit those facing the same harassment today.

We told them that we could relate to them, that we had been through it as well and that you have to try and go to school with your held up high and not show any fear – that everyone at school is going to be different from each other in some way. [link]

It seems the students of Richmond Hill and Baruch have become friends.

After our outing, we headed back to Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Gurdwara to say our goodbyes. The mentors and mentees exchanged numbers and email addresses. All of the mentors made it clear to the kids that they shouldn’t hesitate to contact us. We wanted them to know that all of us have been through some sort of teasing or harassment during our childhood, too, and that it was okay for them to call us if they needed someone to talk to.

We gave them goodie-bags and they wrote us the sweetest letters. We received hugs for goodbyes. [link]

Hopefully others in different cities will follow suit. This is definitely a great program that can easily be replicated in many other cities and towns.


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4 Responses to “Sikh Scouts: a response to bullying”

  1. Hari Singh Khalsa says:

    This is a great effort, by you all and it will have an incredible impact. I'm sure many of these kids parents have no understanding of what they're going through and thus the kids have had no one immediate to talk to with first hand experience of bullying/harassment. My parents had no idea what it meant to be a religious or ethnic minority as a schoolchild and their suggestions offered no help and sometimes made the situation worse.

    I'm grateful now for the adversity that I overcame to become who I am today, but had I really been given the opportunity to talk to a mentor about bullying when I was a child, I probably could have avoided a lot of harassment. I also probably would have avoided a fair amount of anger in my teenage years, and there would be a lot more about my childhood that I would remember now (because I know I've blocked out a lot).

    Keep up the good work and thanks for addressing the problem of bullying/harassment head-on.

  2. Hari Singh Khalsa says:

    This is a great effort, by you all and it will have an incredible impact. I’m sure many of these kids parents have no understanding of what they’re going through and thus the kids have had no one immediate to talk to with first hand experience of bullying/harassment. My parents had no idea what it meant to be a religious or ethnic minority as a schoolchild and their suggestions offered no help and sometimes made the situation worse.

    I’m grateful now for the adversity that I overcame to become who I am today, but had I really been given the opportunity to talk to a mentor about bullying when I was a child, I probably could have avoided a lot of harassment. I also probably would have avoided a fair amount of anger in my teenage years, and there would be a lot more about my childhood that I would remember now (because I know I’ve blocked out a lot).

    Keep up the good work and thanks for addressing the problem of bullying/harassment head-on.

  3. Toronto Fatty says:

    Brothers with Dasam Fathers blessings I never experienced bullying in terms of my turban and appearance, maybe because of the huge multicultural factor. But this is a huge problem for the brothers/sisters in the article, keep faith and remain steadfast in Sikhi, Guru Maharaj always looks over you. This might seem a little over reactive but tell our sisters to keep Sri Sahibs with them, bullying is one thing, but setting the Patka on fire, don't spare that individual who attempted such a thing.

  4. Toronto Fatty says:

    Brothers with Dasam Fathers blessings I never experienced bullying in terms of my turban and appearance, maybe because of the huge multicultural factor. But this is a huge problem for the brothers/sisters in the article, keep faith and remain steadfast in Sikhi, Guru Maharaj always looks over you. This might seem a little over reactive but tell our sisters to keep Sri Sahibs with them, bullying is one thing, but setting the Patka on fire, don’t spare that individual who attempted such a thing.