STUDY: ‘Trump Effect’ Gives Children of Color ‘Alarming Level Of Fear And Anxiety’

By Sameer Rao Apr 13, 2016

A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says that children of color are now dealing with increased fear, bullying and anxiety—thanks in large part to something it calls the "Trump Effect."

"We’ve seen Donald Trump behave like a 12-year-old, and now we’re seeing 12-year-olds behave like Donald Trump," SPLC president Richard Cohen said in a statement published today (April 13) about "The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools."

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance Project surveyed nearly 2,000 teachers and school administrators between March 23 and April 2. The result is an aggregation their responses to questions about Trump’s campaign, complete with quotes from individual teachers about how the Republican presidential frontrunner’s discriminatory rhetoric and sensational campaigning impacts students in their classrooms. While the SPLC says the report isn’t scientific, the organization says "it provides a rich source of information about the impact of this year’s election on the country’s classrooms."

The SPLC sums up the report’s key findings as follows: 

  • More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims—have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.
  • More than half have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse.
  • More than third have observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • More than 40 percent are hesitant to teach about the election.

The survey did not identify presidential candidates by name, but more than 1,000 of nearly 5,000 teachers’ comments mentioned Trump, while a total of less than 200 mentioned Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.

The comments, which you can see here, illustrate how many teachers see the election and the "Trump Effect" causing issues for students of color. "My students often refer to Trump with fear," said one respondent. "They are afraid of what will happen to them (many immigrants) if he becomes president."

"I have some elementary school students who seem to mainline Fox News," another respondent said. "They are butting heads with other students. They have negative and racist comments to make about Muslims."

While many respondents described not wanting to teach about the election at all, others see it as a chance to teach students about civil discourse and hate. "My students are aware of his rhetorical devices and also of the attractiveness that Trump has for certain disaffected segments of our citizens," one educator said. 

Read the study in full here.