The anti-immigrant and “juvenile” rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign is driving an increase in bullying and fear among students in the nation’s schools, according to a new report by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center.
“It’s producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported,” said the report, which was released Wednesday. “Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.”
The report is based on a survey of 2,000 teachers that, the authors acknowledge, is neither scientific nor representative of teachers as a whole: “Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally, and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are the most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”
Titled “The Trump Effect,” the report singles out businessman and leading GOP candidate Donald Trump for his statements about deporting Latino immigrants, building a wall on the nation’s southern border, and banning all Muslim immigrants. Of the 5,000 comments teachers wrote in response to the survey, more than 1,000 mentioned Trump, while fewer than 200 mentioned Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, according to the report.
One teacher quoted in the report wrote that a fifth-grade student told a Muslim classmate “that he was supporting Donald Trump because he was going to kill all of the Muslims if he became president!”
A teacher of kindergartners through third-graders in Oregon said that black students are “concerned for their safety because of what they see on TV at Trump rallies,” while a high school teacher in North Carolina wrote that Latino students are carrying birth certificates and Social Security cards to school out of fear they will be deported.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story used a quotation that appeared in a version of the report that was provided to The Washington Post in advance of publication, but did not appear in the final version of the report that was published online. The story has been updated.