This year’s presidential election is undeniably having a negative impact on the nation’s schoolchildren. Elementary school teachers across the United States complain that the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is particularly difficult to discuss in class and some say bullying is at an all-time high.
Teachers, parents, and others who work with children flooded a recent Reddit thread with upsetting stories about children who feared their parents or friends would be deported from the country if Trump becomes president.
A fifth grade teacher commented, “I work in a school that is 95% Hispanic. I hear a lot of 'Trump hates Mexicans' or 'If Trump wins they will kick my parents out of the country' [sic]… A few students have informed me that no matter who wins, the world will end and we will all die.” This doomsday approach to the election resonated with many.
Due to the election, young immigrants and students of color suffer from more anxiety and fear than usual due to politically-fueled ethnic tensions, and teachers are concerned that listening to Trump on television is exacerbating bullying towards them at school.
This nasty phenomenon has become commonly known as “The Trump Effect,” which Clinton used to her advantage during the second presidential debate.
According to April’s online survey of 2,000 teachers conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Trump effect is palpably felt by minority students the most. In one extreme case, a seven-year-old Muslim boy living in North Carolina was beaten up so badly at school because of Trump that his family moved back to Pakistan.
While bullying is a common problem among children, people who work with kids are now also faced with explaining that what Trump says and does is not necessarily appropriate, despite the fact that he’s running for president. Redditor Hawt4teach wrote, “We have kids in tears about [it], acting out behaviorally because of this stress that they are being forced to deal with and are to [sic] young to understand.”
Another Redditor offered a morbid comment regarding the trickle-down racism Trump has inflicted upon on some students’ psyches. The parent wrote, “At my daughter’s elementary school, the kids are telling the Mexican kids that if Trump is elected he’ll deport them. It’s enough of a problem that the principal had to address it at the last assembly.”
I'll say this again Our CHILDREN are soaking this in. It's not a joke. My kid asked me why "Mexicans are bad." This is the Trump effect.— Whitney Neal (@WhitneyNeal) March 9, 2016
Considering the number of complaints about Trump’s influence creating a more divisive atmosphere for minority students, it may come as a surprise that the majority of young students prefer a Clinton presidency. As a recent mock poll indicated, if children could vote, Clinton would be the next president.
Back in August, a boy was caught on Vine crying to his parent that his brother had insulted him by calling him “Donald Trump.” Others have corroborated that many kids think the word “Trump” is naughty. A Redditor wrote, “My daughter came home believing trump [sic] is a bad word.”
While there may be skeptics about the veracity of the Trump effect, the testimonies of these teachers and parents prove otherwise.
Unfortunately, the traumatic stress felt among the nation’s young as a result of Trump’s media takeover may prove to be irreparable. Trump’s legacy of bigotry, xenophobia, and ethnocentrism could likely linger long into the next presidential cycle.
Banner photo credit: Reuters