Posted on December 4, 2009

Asian Students Under Attack at S. Phila. High

Dafney Tales, Philadelphia Daily News, December 4, 2009

Zhihua Tian traveled thousands of miles from his native China earlier this year to profit from the treasures of the American education system.

Unfortunately, he landed at South Philadelphia High School, where the number of violent incidents often overshadow student achievements.

Tian, 19, of South Philly, and five other students who are recent immigrants are staying home today because they were among 26 Asian students who were attacked by a gang of other students throughout the day yesterday, said Xu Lin, of the Chinatown Development Corporation, who works with victimized students.

District officials said that 10 students have been suspended. {snip}

Several incidents of violence against Asian immigrants were reported at the school last year.

Lin said there was a pervasive atmosphere of fear among Asian students.

“It’s very, very scary,” he said, noting that he repeatedly was beaten up when he attended South Philly High. “You go to school and you don’t know when you’ll be attacked.”


About 12:30 p.m., Tian and two friends were heading to the cafeteria when someone ran up and hit him in the head from behind, Tian said through Lin, who translated.


His friend Shan Chen, 18, also a freshman, was pushed to the ground, punched and kicked, Chen said.

Seven of the victims, including Tian, were treated at Methodist Hospital for scrapes and bruises.

Violent incidents against Asian students often go unreported because the victims often have a language barrier or choose to suffer in silence rather than risk retaliation, said Tram Nguyen, a community organizer with Victim Services in South Philly.

But students at the school, which is 18 percent Asian and has been designated by the state as “persistently dangerous” the last three years, have tried to stop the violence against them.