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Bullying And Suicide Of Sikh Identity


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
With the population of Sikhs in America approaching one million, Sikh children of school age number in the hundreds of thousands. Statistics show that nearly 50% of Sikh children experience harassment in the classroom. The majority of these are boys wearing turbans who do not cut their hair. The same statistics show that teachers do not report 1/3 of such incidents.

Suicide of a teenager exposed to bullying has been the focus of media attention and is forcing schools to pay closer attention to interaction of students in regards to bullying. Still I can't help but wonder whether such incidents with Sikh students will still be over looked outside the Sikh community.

Such tragedies as suicide have occurred among Sikh youth, not just in the taking of life, but in the suicide of Sikh identity when the youth who succumbs because of continual ridicule and low self esteem removes the turban and cuts their hair to fit in. Such acceptance comes at a price. Assimilation into a world which does not understand their upbringing can be isolating. To compound the issue, such an individual may then be shunned by former peers, judged as weak or lacking conviction, and find themselves in a twilight limbo existence belonging neither here nor there. What help is available for the soul struggling with acceptance on one hand and rejection on the other?

While counseling may help sort out the agenda of a student burdened by peer pressure verses family values and religious identity, in Sikhism destiny is viewed as preordained and actions the result of the soul's involvement with ego. What kind of help can be found when one embraces Sikh philosophy and turns to the Guru for aid? How can ego be overcome and true and everlasting peace be obtained for the soul?

Guru Raam Das advises that such grace is obtained in the Lords' name:

"Har har har har naam hai furmukh paavai koe||
Har Har Har Har the the Lord God name is obtained by the rare one blessed with the Guru's instruction and grace.

Houmai mamta naas hoe durmat kaddhai dhoe ||
Then the ego's false sense of belonging is eradicated and faulty understanding is washed away.

Nanak andin gun uchrai jin kou dhur likhia hoe ||
O Nanak night and day that one recites the Lords praise who is destined to do so. Sri Guru Granth Sahib||1313




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