Cambodian-Americans are one of the populations least likely to graduate high school and one of the most likely to drop out of school. Long Beach, California has the highest concentration of Cambodians outside of Southeast Asia, but there is little institutional support and school staff members in the area are unaware of the struggles facing this group.
Cambodian-Americans experience poverty rates nearly three times above the national average. Experts cite Cambodians' shared history of fleeing war as a contributing factor in the drugs and violence that plagues the population. A former gang member explains the protective purpose and origin of gangs in “Cambodia Town.”
Nearly 62 percent of Cambodian immigrants suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but a cultural stigma against seeking help for mental health issues causes problems. The Khmer Rouge’s attacks created a generational gap in education, leaving many youths to fend for themselves. Organizations such as the United Cambodian Community and Khmer Girls in Action provide spaces to speak about secondhand trauma and heal.
With nearly 250,000 new Southeast Asian refugees in the last ten years, the United States education system needs to develop responsive supports to the needs of these students. For many Cambodian-Americans, connecting with their heritage remains an important and critical aspect in their success. Preview a video about Rochester, New York’s response to mothers of color experiencing child death rates twice that of white mothers.
Credits: Pass or Fail in Cambodia Town
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Asian Americans are the best-educated and highest-income ethnic group in the United States. They are often referred to as the “model minority,” suggesting that all Asians are successful in school and in life. But Southeast Asian Americans have some of the lowest high school completion rates in the nation. Visit Long Beach, California—the city with America’s largest Cambodian community—to find out why this educational crisis is occurring and what people are doing about it.
Length: 26 minutes
Copyright date: ©2014
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