When we talk about bullying, we usually don’t think about how politics, let alone the U.S. president, dictates how children behave. But it also makes sense that kids learn how to act from what they see on TV. The election in November was everywhere–and Trump makes headlines in the news constantly–and we can’t pretend kids don’t take all of that in.
Recently, Buzzfeed discovered that bullying incidents invoking Trump’s name–and using racist language–have increased. This is definitely disconcerting for parents and teachers alike regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, because bullying is never OK.
Here’s what they found: White students are using “the president’s words and slogans to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, and Jewish classmates.” The site found “more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year.”
While 50 incidents may not seem like a lot, it’s not something to scoff at either, considering that means these are only the incidents that have been documented–and they could also set the precedent for future bad behavior. And honestly, one incident is bad enough, considering bullying effects can be long-lasting for the victim.
BuzzFeed got the data from a study tracking bullying incidents called the Documenting Hate project, which was set up by ProPublica and shared with other news organizations. According to their stats, “the reports spanned 149 schools. Of those, BuzzFeed News was able to follow up on 54 cases through interviews, public statements from school officials, and local news reports”
Some of the incidents included high school students in Minnesota, chanting a portion of “The Star-Spangled Banner” around a black teenage girl, but instead replaced the closing line with “and the home of the slaves.”
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Texas, a white 8th grader said to a Filipino classmate, “You are going to be deported” while on the school bus. It doesn’t stop there, but these are good examples of the situations Buzzfeed found, including anti-Semitic behavior–and they should give you chills.
It should also give you chills because these children won’t always be children. They will grow up to become adults–and while (hopefully) they will become kinder to their peers as they grow up, this type of behavior isn’t a good omen–and seems to be deemed OK by the current administration.
It’s not just about political sides, it’s about racial and religious intolerance being perpetuated. As Buzzfeed pointed out, “today’s high schoolers will be eligible to vote in 2020, and today’s fifth-graders will be eligible to vote in 2024.” Antonio Lopez, an assistant school superintendent in Portland, Oregon, has a few words to say about it, too, “It’s unacceptable and it reflects a wider climate of hate that we’re seeing.”
Sadly, Lopez is right–which means, as Buzzfeed says, some of the kids aren’t alright, they’re the, “alt-right” junior league.