A Sikh Boy's Experience of Being Bullied

February 21, 2003

Source: AsianWeek

On February 21, 2003 AsianWeek reported that "a cursory review of Parteek Singh’s life in America does fit the dream sequence laid out in his parents’ minds. A love for basketball, reading books, performing well in school and tight family ties made up Parteek’s seemingly happy life. The family went to community and religious events in the town of Renton, Wash., where there is a gurdwara to which Sikh Americans come from all over the state... Parteek’s internal life revealed another reality altogether. He kept a different world � one where he was forced to tolerate name-calling, teasing, pushing and punching by school peers � a secret from outsiders. When his family found out, they would try and move to a new area and hope the teasing would stop. It never did... The cause of this hostility towards Parteek? He wore a topknot of hair covered with a headwrap, keeping his hair neat and in place. This is known as kesh, and represents one of the five sacred articles of the Sikh faith. [Amelia] Derr, the education director for local community advocacy group Hate Free Zone, advocated Parteek’s case in the school system and during his court proceedings on Sept. 17, 2002. While Derr realized that school administrators refused to acknowledge Parteek’s history of being bullied, he insisted that that history continued to affect him at the age of 14. Derr acknowledged the heightened harassment Sikh and Muslim children were experiencing after Sept. 11... In Parteek’s case, Derr assessed that the system had failed this young man seven times, 'Because Parteek was being harassed in school, the family had to move seven times. In my mind, this is an incredible failure of the system.'"