Schools and communities that respect diversity can help protect children against bullying behavior. However, when children are not in supportive environments, they may be at a higher risk of being bullied.
When bullying is sufficiently serious and based on race/ethnicity, national origin, or religion, it may be considered discriminatory harassment. Learn more about federal civil rights laws.
If you or someone you know has been bullied because of their race/ethnicity, national origin, or religion at school you can:
- Notify a school leader.
- Write down the details.
- Ask for a language interpreter and translated documents and messages if you need help communicating with school staff in a language other than English.
- Consider filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Education.
It is not clear how often kids get bullied because of their race or national origin, including their ethnicity, ancestry, and language. Research is still growing. We do know, however, that Black and Hispanic youth who are bullied are more likely to suffer academically than their white peers.
Books for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Youth
The Friendship Makers is a book from the Star Collection series for kindergarten through third grade readers that aims to respectfully reflect, honor, and celebrate some of the shared characteristics across many AIAN communities.
Religion and Faith
Very little research has explored bullying based on religious differences. Bullying in these situations may have less to do with a person’s beliefs and more to do with misinformation or negative perceptions about how someone expresses that belief.
Children of any religion or faith may be bullied because of faith-related practices, such as prayer, fasting, the avoidance of certain foods or activities, and wearing visible faith-related attires. For example, Muslim girls who wear hijabs (head scarves), Sikh boys who wear patka or dastaar (turbans), and Jewish boys who wear yarmulkes (skullcap) report being targeted because of these visible symbols of their religions. They could even be physically bullied by the forceful removal of these significant clothing items by others.
When bullying based on religion is sufficiently serious, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to intervene under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. Often religious harassment is not based on the religion itself but on shared ethnic characteristics. When harassment is based on shared ethnic characteristics, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights may be able to intervene under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.