Community Unites to Prevent Bullying of Hindu Students
By Kavita Pallod
After being alerted to a situation involving the bullying of Hindu students, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) immediately began working with the Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) to create resources and develop relationships to address the issue broadly across the community.
“We learned some valuable lessons through the process of engaging school districts on this issue,” said Dev Mahajan, Chairman, Advisory Board, HGH. “We learned the importance of knowing the formal complaint process, how language, tone, and timing play a really important role in getting results, and perhaps the most important lesson – the need for our community to come together and organize formally to advocate for our needs in the way Jewish organizations have through Jewish Federations in local communities across the nation.”
HAF and HGH also engaged the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to talk with the local school district in which the bullying was occurring. What was initially to be an intimate face to face conversation, became a fruitful meeting of nine leaders from the Houston Hindu community and ADL staff and leadership. The ADL has a number of programs and resources targeted at helping schools combat bullying, including an initiative called No Place for Hate. ADL also encourages schools to sign the ADL’s Resolution of Respect and implement anti-bias activities to demonstrate and create an appreciation of and respect for diversity.
HAF is also creating short guides to empower parents in Houston area school districts to understanding the grievance procedures in their district. The guides will be hosted on the Hindus of Greater Houston website. HAF will also continue to work with the ADL to ensure that the training resources provided to teachers include ways to recognize anti-Hindu bullying specifically.
“Complaint and appeals procedures can be difficult to find in the volumes and volumes of district policies,” said Rishi Bhutada, member of HAF’s Board of Directors. “Our hope is to make it easier for both parents and students to recognize what a bullying situation may look like by providing hypotheticals, what their rights are, and most importantly, what to do, step by step, should they find their child in a bullying situation.”
This initiative by HAF to address anti-Hindu bullying is part of a larger focus on education which centers on textbook reform.
Kavita Pallod is a member of the Hindu American Foundation’s Executive Council.