The Trump Effect (2016- ) is what the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls the effect that Donald Trump has been having on US schoolchildren.
Trump running for president has led to more open racism among some schoolchildren and fear and confusion among others. On both sides there has been more anger, shouting and less patience for opposing views. Some fight, some cry.
Trump’s bad example, which appears on television coast to coast and on the Internet pole to pole, undermines democratic values schoolteachers try to teach, like respect, dignity, honesty, listening to others, and the need for facts and reason.
The SPLC surveyed teachers across the US from March 23rd to April 2nd 2016. It was not a scientific study, but with 2,000 teachers writing in, it is the largest, richest survey of its kind.
Some teachers report little change other than students being way more interested in the election.
A third of teachers report an increase of open racism and xenophobia. They hear stuff like:
- “Trump! Trump! Trump!” (tauntingly)
- “When Trump wins, you and your family will get sent back.”
- “just saying what everyone is thinking”
- “telling it like it is”
- “terrorist”, “ISIS” and “bomber” (applied to Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus)
The N-word is being used more. “Dirty Mexican” is used at schools where it was not used a year before.
The progress some schools have made against bullying is being undone.
Two-thirds of teachers say students are upset and afraid, not just Muslim and Mexican students, but Sikh, Hindu, Latino and even Black students. They are “hurt”, “dejected”, feel that “everyone hates them”, that “they don’t belong here” that they have “no value” to the country, etc.
Some Black schoolchildren fear Trump will send them to prison camps, Africa or make them slaves.
One kindergartener asks every day: “Is the wall here yet?”
Some students beg their teachers not to vote for Trump because he will send their parents out of the country.
A teacher in Virginia said:
“My second-graders are scared. They’re scared of being sent back to their home countries. They’re scared of losing their education. As their teacher, I hug them each day to let them know they are safe and they are loved.”
Most scared of getting sent back are those who fled to the US from wars, like in Iraq and Syria.
Another teacher said:
“I have tried to reassure my students that no matter the outcome, they will be okay. I don’t even know if that’s true, but I can’t have them worry and stress about it.”
Meanwhile some teenagers, especially boys, see the election as entertainment, as some kind of joke.
Ideas about democracy: One high school teacher summed it up this way:
“They are increasingly political (which is good), but the extreme rhetoric being modeled is not helping their ability to utilize reason and evidence, rather than replying in kind.”
Another high school teacher said:
“I hope they don’t walk away thinking this is what politics is all about.”
– Abagond, 2016.
- 2016 election for US president
- Zaatari refugee camp