The Experience of Sikh Students in Peel 2016

Bullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people. Students of Sikh background in particular face challenges due to their articles of faith. This report aims to bring a better understanding of these challenges.

In July 2016 the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) conducted surveys amongst young Sikhs attending summer camps in Peel Region (Ontario, Canada). This survey follows a similar survey that was conducted by the WSO in 2011.  The objective of this survey is to measure the prevalence of bullying specifically targeted towards the Sikh identity and remediation options available to schools, parents/guardians, etc.

Included in the report is the following:

  • Key bullying statistics of Sikh students
  • The motivations of bullying
  • Frequency and nature of bullying experienced
  • Reasons why they are bullied

The report is oriented for schools, colleges, practitioners, parents/guardians and young people to guide effective.  This year, for the first time, we met with and interviewed students individually to explore the impact, frequency and nature of this bullying. We found that of the students surveyed, 27% were bullied because of their Sikh identity. The largest percentages of students bullied were among those who wore either all articles or some visible articles of faith. 34% of students who kept at least one visible article of faith said they had been bullied. Students who did not wear any article of faith reported an 11% bullying rate. 57% of students told staff members at their school about the bullying they faced, which lead to an effective remediation 51% of the time. Many tried to do multiple other things besides just speaking to their parents and/or telling a teacher indicating that students were relatively comfortable seeking assistance and speaking to their teachers and/or staff at their school. In cases where students approached the school, 40% of respondents felt that the school was not effective in addressing the bullying issue.

One student told us that following being bullied, she “avoided class by pretending to be sick so that I wouldn’t go back to school the next day”. The WSO hopes to use this information to inform educators of possible remediation actions to further reduce the impact of bullying.

Though even one child being bullied is one too many, we note there is a reduction in the bullying rate from 2011. This is a positive indication that the issue is improving. Our data indicates that changes in policy and diversity initiatives within the Peel District School Board may be drivers of the improved results: school staff were reported to be helpful in solving bullying issues in 36% of bullying instances in the 2011 survey, whereas this year’s report showed them to be helpful in 51% of cases. The ESL program also saw improved responses. 27% of students in ESL programs felt they did not require the class in 2011, as opposed to 8.62% this year.

The results of this survey reveal that bullying remains a significant issue for Sikh students. Many students reported being teased and bullied for looking or speaking differently, keeping visible articles of faith, or even for their “non-English” names. We found strong correlations that have enabled us to paint a picture of the challenges Sikh students face . It is our firm belief that this research can be used to assist the wider community of practitioners to better understand the dynamics of bullying.

Throughout the years, the WSO has assisted many young students overcoming problems and discrimination due to their articles of faith. We hope that this research is of interest and benefit to you, your organization and the wider community.

The whole report can be seen and downloaded here.  

For more information about this report please contact Balpreet Singh, Legal Counsel (WSO)