Donald Trump has warned of Mexican rapists and drug dealers, called for a ban on Muslims entering the country, publicly mocked a New York Times reporter with a disability, and made lewd comments toward women. A new video from Hillary Clinton’s campaign suggests that America’s kids are watching—and that many are feeling the aftershocks every day at school.
Clinton first raised the idea of a so-called “Trump effect” in an August speech in Reno, Nevada. “Parents and teachers are already worrying about what they call the ‘Trump effect,'” Clinton told supporters. “They report that bullying and harassment are on the rise in our schools, especially targeting students of color, Muslims, and immigrants.” The term was popularized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which in April released a survey of 2,000 K-12 teachers highlighting real concern about the effect the campaign’s hostile rhetoric has had inside America’s classrooms. More than half of respondents saw an uptick in uncivil political discourse, and more than one-third saw “an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.” Of the 5,000 comments taken in the survey, more than 1,000 cited Trump specifically.
It’s difficult to know whether bullying and harassment are actually on the rise this year. The SPLC report was unscientific, and federal bullying data likely won’t be released for some time. (Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that school-based bullying declined between 2007 and 2013.) But teachers and experts alike worry about the influence this election will continue to have on children in the future.
“The aggressive name-calling and mocking we have seen on both sides of this campaign has a ripple effect on our society, affecting both adults and children who learn by example how you achieve power and status by belittling your opponent,” Dewey Cornell, a forensic clinical psychologist and education professor at the University of Virginia, wrote in an email. “I expect the effects are not just in the classroom, but in the workplace and in homes across the country.”