December 5, 2018
NYU Washington, DC and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) co-hosted a panel discussion on religious-based bullying.
Last year, ISPU’s annual American Muslim Poll revealed that more than 1 in 3 Muslim families report bullying of their child in school because of their religion. In 1 in 4 of those cases involving Muslim students, a teacher or administrator perpetuated the bullying. Given the prevalence rates and negative mental health outcomes associated with religious-based bullying, it must be considered a public health issue in need of prevention and intervention attention. This new report provided insights from the first-ever National Interfaith Anti-Bullying Summit held in Washington, DC, on December 2–3, 2017. The Summit gathered a multitude of experts on the issue, including advocates, researchers, teachers, parents, physicians, mental health practitioners, and, most importantly, targets of bullying to share their stories of the abuse and how it impacted their mental well-being.
The panel discussion included a conversation about the report findings, recommendations for mental health professionals and educators, the connection between mental health and bullying, translating research recommendations into effective policy and practice, and parent/child accounts of religious-based bullying.
Dr. Nadia Ansary is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Rider University. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2006. She has several lines of research, but primary among these are the following: (1) exploring the mental well-being of Muslim American youth and community-based outreach for this population; (2) bullying and victimization with a special focus on Muslim targets of peer harassment and abuse; and (3) understanding the psychosocial development of immigrant, as well as first- and second-generation youth struggling to acculturate, especially within the context of discrimination. She has numerous publications concerning Muslim American and Arab American mental health. Dr. Ansary is a specialist on bullying in schools. In 2008, she was appointed by Governor Jon S. Corzine to the New Jersey Commission on Bullying in Schools, where she participated in creating a report providing recommendations for legal and school-based remedies for bullying in schools; the Commission’s report informed the development of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. This work has led to the completion of two first-authored publications providing guidance to schools in selecting anti-bullying approaches. Dr. Ansary has appeared on numerous television and radio programs to discuss her research and has provided programming on the topic of bullying to the New Jersey Judiciary.
Dr. Rukhsana M. Chaudhry received her Doctorate from the George Washington University in 2010. She completed her postgraduate training at Harvard University's Global Mental Health Program specializing in Trauma and Recovery. In her work, she has developed a self-esteem building and empowerment program for women and girls in rural and urban areas of Pakistan. She has also treated traumatized women and children from earthquake-affected Kashmir, women in the U.S. under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Kenyan survivors of Female Genital Mutilation. For the past 5 years, she has served as the Director of Mental Health Programming for the American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP). In this role, she has developed several mental health advocacy and educational initiatives. Most recently, she developed the "Muslim Youth Identity" series in which American-Muslim speakers delivered Ted-style talks about combating stereotypes and prejudice to diverse national audiences in Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago. She spearheaded and convened the first-ever National Interfaith Anti-bullying summit with steering committee partners in her role as Director of Mental Health Programming for AMHP. This summit took place at the George Washington University in December of 2017. She currently co-directs trauma programming as a senior psychologist with the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, a trauma-focused care institute with a culturally diverse patient population in Washington D.C. She is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the George Washington University. Dr. Chaudhry firmly believes that education on mental health issues is a form of social justice for all communities. She believes that fostering the development of innovative approaches to addressing mental health issues reduces stigma for those who suffer and their families.
Suzanne Greenfield became the first director of the Citywide Bullying Prevention Program in the Office of Human Rights in May of 2013. As the director she is responsible for implementing the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 which aims to reduce incidents of bullying across the District by emphasizing prevention and proper procedures for responding when incidents occur. The program works with youth-serving government agencies, District schools and youth-serving government grantees to ensure bullying prevention policies are adopted and implemented in ways consistent with the best practices and evidence based research.
Suzanne is a longtime school and social justice advocate, prior to joining OHR she worked on education policy issues for youth with special needs. Before that she was at DC Public Schools where she teamed with schools and school leaders to address behavior concerns and create holistic approaches to changing school climates. While at Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) she created a national program to support the needs of LGBTQ youth in schools. Suzanne resides in the District with her family, all graduates of DC public schools.
Dr. Harminder Kaur is a practicing Sikh, a medical doctor and an activist. She is the co-founder of Sikh Kid 2 Kid, a youth lead organization striving to spread awareness about Sikhism, removing all misconceptions which have been contributing harassment students have to face in schools due to their unique identity. She chairs the education subcommittee of the faith community working group in Montgomery county, working directly with the administration to improve the student experience.
Vikram Singh Mangat is a natural born entrepreneur finishing his bachelor's degree in management studies. Currently he co-owns a weight-loss company with his mom, Dr Kaur. Vikram has experienced bullying throughout a large portion of his life. As a result he would like to play the role of a Up Stander.
Meira Neggaz is the Executive Director at ISPU, where she is responsible for the institution’s overall leadership, strategy, and growth. Meira works to build and strengthen ISPU, to cultivate relationships with community leaders, policy makers, scholars, partner institutions and stakeholders, and to broaden the reach and impact of ISPU’s research. Before joining ISPU, Meira served as Senior Program Officer for Marie Stopes International (MSI), a leading, UK-based organization working in 42 countries. There, she led and managed programs in multiple countries, developed partnerships with key stakeholders and partner institutions, provided technical advice, and managed key grants and donor relationships. Formerly, Meira was the first Executive Director of WINGS in Guatemala, where she grew the organization from its infancy to become a national leader in the health sector, and the Guatemala Country Representative for Curamericas, establishing country presence and leading a USAID funded child survival project. She holds a BA from Huron University in London and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.