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The “Trump effect” is spiking racist bullying in US schools: Survey

AP Photo/Mike Groll
Our next bully-in-chief?
  • Jake Flanagin
By Jake Flanagin


Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The controversial 2016 presidential campaign is having a “profoundly negative impact” on schoolchildren around the country, according to a survey of 2,000 American teachers conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit.

Teachers in K-12 classrooms across the country say that they have seen an uptick in bullying, harassment, and intimidation of students whose races, religions, and nationalities have been targeted by the candidates, according to the report. Of course, there’s one particular politician who has made a habit of targeting people from minority backgrounds: Republican candidate Donald Trump has famously called Mexican immigrants rapists and threatened to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

“While the survey did not identify candidates, more than 1,000 comments mentioned Donald Trump by name,” according to a press release. The survey, which is not scientific, relies on teachers’ personal observations of changes in their student bodies. The online questionnaires were filled out by email subscribers and visitors to the SPLC website, as opposed to a random sampling of nationwide teachers.

Two-thirds of teachers in the survey report that certain students, primarily immigrants, first-generation Americans, and Muslims, “have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.” More than half of the teachers surveyed report witnessing an increase in “uncivil political discourse” in classrooms. Around 40% say they are “hesitant to teach about the election” because of its frequently hateful undercurrents.

One teacher in Oregon says that her African-American students are “concerned for their safety because of what they see on TV at Trump rallies,” according to the report. A kindergarten teacher in Tennessee says that a Latino child, apparently told by classmates that he will be deported back behind Trump’s promised anti-migrant wall, asks “Is the wall here yet?” every day.

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