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White House Battles Bullying at UES Summit

By Amy Zimmer | October 28, 2011 5:07pm | Updated on October 29, 2011 10:31am
President Barack Obama discussed the Occupy Wall Street protests.
President Barack Obama discussed the Occupy Wall Street protests.
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MANHATTAN — Obama administration officials will be meeting with hundreds of local parents, teachers, students and community leaders at a bullying prevention summit Saturday to address the safety of Asian American, Pacific Islander and Muslim American students.

These students are more likely to be targets of bullying than some of their counterparts, according to new data that U.S. Department of Education officials are expected to release at the event to be held at Hunter College on the Upper East Side.

Nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year, or about 13 million students, White House officials said.

"Post 9/11, bias-based bullying toward religious and immigrant communities has been a consistent issue, and it continues to be under reported," Thomas Mariadason, an attorney at the Manhattan-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement.

Mariadason, a watchdog of anti-harassment policies across the nation, will join keynote speaker Assistant Attorney general Thomas Perez, New York City Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several others. The day-long summit will also include a panel with representatives from Facebook, MTV and Common Sense Media, who will discuss online bullying and how to stay safe on the Internet.

"We've seen the egregious effects bias-based harassment has on students when there is a failure to intervene, from the violence at South Philadelphia High School in 2009 to reports we received in years past from the former Lafayette High School in Brooklyn," Mariadason said. "The problem persists, and it is a critical time for the White House to address these issues."

Convened by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in partnership with CUNY's Asian American/Asian Research Institute and Hunter College, the event aims to raise awareness about harassment of Asian and Muslim Americans, encourage students, parents and advocates to report such incidents and discuss possible solutions, federal officials said.

The city's teachers union recently unveiled a new anti-bullying hotline for kids (212-709-3222). 

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders' Bullying Prevention Summit is on Saturday at CUNY Hunter College Main Cafeteria, 695 Park Ave., 9:30 a.m.