The presidential campaign is stoking fear and anxiety among children of color, according to a survey released Thursday of about 2,000 teachers.
The report, “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation's Schools” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), puts much of the blame on Donald Trump’s comments about undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the U.S., and building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
Even though the survey questions didn’t identify any candidates, out of 5,000 total comments more than 1,000 mentioned Donald Trump. Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton were named less than 200 times.
“My students are terrified of Donald Trump,” said a middle school teacher with a large student body of African-American Muslims. “They think that if he’s elected, all black people will get sent back to Africa.”
More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that children of immigrants and Muslims expressed concerns about what might happen to them or their families after the election. More than one-third reported seeing an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Students are hearing more hate language than I have ever heard at our school before,” said a high school teacher in Helena, Montana.
Another teacher who responded to the survey said 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!”
Other educators were concerned that the election was making students less trusting of government and hostile to opposing points of view, and that children are losing respect for the political process.
The survey asked five questions, including “How have you seen the rhetoric of this year’s presidential campaign affect your students? Your school?” and “If you have witnessed bullying or biased language at your school—from adults or students—that mimics the rhetoric of the campaign, please tell us about it.”
The SPLC admits that the survey is not scientific and that the K-12 teachers who responded were likely to be those who are more concerned about the topic. Still, the nonprofit civil rights group said it offers an glimpse into how the presidential campaign is affecting students.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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