If you have been watching discussion on political debates or reading about current presidential election political behavior, you may have heard the term “The Trump Effect.” During Sunday night’s second presidential debate, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the term that describes a phenomenon that some say now exists.
“You know, children listen to what is being said. And there’s a lot of fear — in fact, teachers and parents are calling it The Trump Effect.”
But what is it, exactly? The Southern Poverty Law Center is an organization that states their mission is to “fight hate, teach tolerance, and seek justice.” This organization has defined “The Trump Effect” as having several components, and is based off of a survey of approximately 2,000 teachers who instruct students anywhere from kindergarten age to seniors in high school. It’s important to note that this is not a scientific study. It is a voluntary poll of teachers who choose to respond to the survey, and according to the Center itself, it is likely that those who are most concerned about hatred, intolerance, and lack of social justice are the people that respond.
With that said, the results of this poll are sobering. The main results of the poll are that two-thirds of teachers report children expressing fear about what may happen to them as a result of the election, particularly Muslims and students who have immigrated or whose parents are immigrants, that more than half of teachers have seen an increase in incivility when discussing politics, that more than one-third of teachers have seen an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment, and 40 percent of teachers state they are hesitant to teach about the presidential election.
The Huffington Post describes teachers who say they will not teach about an election filled with hate. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, a teacher who is now president of The National Education Association, says she used to assign sixth-grade students to watch the presidential debates and write about the views presented. She said she no longer feels comfortable doing that.
“I’m not so sure I’d really want my kids to watch this debate. It’s really kind of disturbing what they’re hearing out there. There is bullying going on, and [there are] children who feel that they are given permission to repeat some of the things they’re hearing out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”
The term “The Trump Affect” was likely coined by The National Education Association, and the Clinton campaign has begun to use the unscientific term to describe social ramifications that they say are occurring in schools across the nation.
Joy Lyn Bock, an NEA member who teaches eighth grade and lives in Ohio, described a situation in which one of her students, a Peruvian immigrant, had made a statement that she would be sent away because that’s what she heard her parents discussing. Bock said the girl’s words were “heart-breaking.”
“My student told her class that her parents said it will not be safe to continue to live in the United States if Donald Trump becomes president. It broke my heart.”
An unnamed teacher from a middle school with a majority population of African-American Muslims echoed the sentiment that Bock expressed.
“My students are terrified of Donald Trump. They think that if he’s elected, all black people will get sent back to Africa.”
Other teachers reported increased use of racial slurs, ethnic divides, behavior problems, and children who are so afraid that they are bringing their identification and birth certificates to school, fearing they will be deported. In Tennessee, a kindergarten teacher recounts a situation in which a Latino child was told by classmates he would be deported and trapped behind a wall. She says that every day he asks her “Is the wall here yet?”
Some children are using Trump’s words and ideas to bully other students, some teachers claim. A fifth grade teacher said that some students are even discussing extreme violence – including murder – that they feel will happen if Trump is president, and some of them are happy about it.
“A fifth-grader told a Muslim student ‘that he was supporting Donald Trump because he was going to kill all of the Muslims if he became president!'”
Some teachers say that they are concerned about long-term social and psychological effects on students, regardless of who becomes president.
Have you witnessed “The Trump Effect?” Do you believe Donald Trump is having a negative impact on children?
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]