Donald Trump is America’s bully-in-chief, and too many kids are following his lead. An analysis by The Washington Post finds more than 300 cases of Trump-inspired bullying in schools bad enough to make news reports over the past four years; “At least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black or Muslim.” (For anyone who wants to both-sides it, more than 45 students have faced bullying at school for supporting Trump.)
But those are stories that made the news. Trump-inspired bullying is much more widespread, according to a 2016 survey of teachers in which close to one in four “described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric,” with 476 cases of bullies saying, “Build the wall” and 672 talking about deportation.
In 2018, a group of students in Washington state unfurled a “Make America Great Again” flag at a high school football game and chanted, “Build the wall”—but of course their bullying didn’t stop there. One of those students had previously sat on the floor in class rather than sit next to Cielo Castor, a Mexican American student who’d said she opposed Trump. Castor was also booed and heckled when she stood up against the “Build the wall” chants.
Unfortunately, it’s not just students doing the bullying. In one case that got widespread attention, Fort Worth, Texas, high school English teacher Georgia Clark was left in the classroom despite repeated complaints of racism, often with Trump citations, until tweets that she thought were private messages went viral. In those tweets, Clark asked Trump to deport undocumented students.
In another case, a Florida teacher was suspended for just three days and transferred to another school after telling a group of black students that Trump would “send you back to Africa.”
Trump’s racist, violent rhetoric has become a constant feature of life in the U.S., with him frequently talking about “invasion” by immigrants at rallies and even cracking a joke after a supporter called for shooting migrant families at the border. Trump’s campaign didn't even pause in its use of invasion rhetoric in online ads after the El Paso mass shooting in which the shooter used the very same language about invasion and targeted Latino families.
But Trump’s inspiration of bullying in schools shows the long-term damage he’s doing to the country, teaching a generation of kids that racism is acceptable, even a point of pride. Simply electing a new president—as vitally important as it is—isn’t going to undo this much damage.
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