Giving Compass’ Take:
· The Hechinger Report discusses research investigating the rise of bullying in schools since the election of President Trump and concludes that there is a clear connection between this rise and districts that had voted primarily for Donald Trump.
· How does the political climate impact the way students act in school? Should schools create an environment completely free from political conversation?
During and following the 2016 presidential election, there were many media reports describing bullying in schools. But it was hard to know if bullying had actually increased or if parents and teachers and journalists were simply noticing it more. Or perhaps, in our age of Facebook and Twitter, more incidents were coming to our collective attention.
A pair of researchers decided to investigate what happened in middle schools in the political battleground state of Virginia, which voted 49.8% for Hillary Clinton and 44.4% for Donald Trump in 2016. Using surveys that were regularly administered to students throughout the state before and after the election, the researchers tracked how teasing and bullying had changed and mapped that onto election returns. The results: in 2017, both teasing and bullying were significantly higher in schools located in districts that had voted for Donald Trump compared with districts that had voted for Hillary Clinton. Prior to the election, in 2013 and 2015, there had been no divergence in bullying or teasing rates between Republican and Democratic communities.
“This study is confirming that Trump is actually having an effect on America’s children,” said Jonathan Cohen, past president of the National School Climate Center and an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who read the paper and presented his comments at the April forum. “It’s not surprising. I’ve been hearing this in conversations I’ve been having with superintendents across America, an increase in students being mean and intentionally cruel, especially to immigrants.”
Cohen says it’s hard to fully understand why school bullying would increase only in communities where a majority of adults had voted for Trump and not Clinton. “It’s not that Trump alone is affecting how people think and feel and act,” said Cohen. “It’s Trump in partnership with the local community. If we have a large segment of the parent community who are connected to racist, anti-immigrant sentiment, then Trump is giving permission to these people to give voice to that sentiment.”
Read the full article about the ‘Trump effect’ by Jill Barshay at The Hechinger Report.
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