WASHINGTON – OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, is deeply concerned following a recent incident involving 14-year-old David Phan of Taylorsville, Utah, who took his life after he was extensively bullied by his peers.

David Phan

“The tragic death of David is another bullying related incident that occurs far too often in our community,” OCA Executive Director Tom Hayashi said on Dec. 6. “While many of the details are still emerging from the investigation, bullying has become an epidemic inside and outside our schools that must be addressed with swift action. We must create a culture where harassment in all forms is unacceptable.”

According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Education study, APAs face the highest rate of bullying in a classroom at nearly 20 percent more than any other ethnic minority; as well as 10 percent more likely to be bullied outside of school grounds. These statistics signify the challenges that young APAs must navigate on a daily basis.

As a national organization of advocates, OCA strongly condemns bullying and harassment of APAs in all forms. In a similar incident in late 2008, five APA students from South Philadelphia High School were harassed and abused by their peers with little action taken to protect them by school officials. OCA-Philadelphia rallied around the neglected students through community action to bring accountability and safety.

OCA has also been intimately engaged with the military in addressing the culture of harassment and hazing following a recent string of incidents involving APAs in uniform.

“Our community sends its thoughts to the Phan family during this difficult time,” said Ken Lee, OCA national president. “We will continue to stand as a resource for APAs to seek answers and solutions to prevent bullying at all levels.”

“OCA is calling for a full and transparent investigation by local law enforcement into what led to David’s death as well as strong accountability from all parties,” the organization said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation with our local OCA-Utah chapter and work with the appropriate agencies to change the culture of bullying and harassment.”

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