Measuring bullying and its causes is no easy task, and it’s far too soon to draw conclusions about upticks in bulling in our nation’s schools following on Donald Trump’s electoral college win. What we do know is that the features of that bullying stand out: more racism, more bigotry, more sexism. Mother Jones gives a rundown on the incidents and expert input about what the data mean and what we can infer from them. One clear implication from what we’ve seen so far is that Donald Trump empowered people whose thoughts would otherwise still be forced into a dark, ratty corner where they belong.
As reported Edwin Rios writes:
Robert Faris, a sociology professor at the University of California-Davis who studies bullying, says the example Trump set on the national stage “has given permission and legitimated what was previously considered illegitimate.” Trump’s campaign, he says, has emboldened people with racist and sexist attitudes to act out publicly in ways they didn’t previously. “The Trump campaign, in my view, has not just created more racial resentment, but it’s also given oxygen to the embers of resentment and fanned those flames,” Faris says. “But the embers were already lit.” It’s up to teachers and administrators, he says, to “delegitimize” hate speech and actions right away—especially since research has shown that bullying can lead to long-term mental and social consequences. According to a 2014 Duke University study, kids who are bullied demonstrated a higher risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts as adults and experienced health issues (including increased inflammation) in the long term.
The school where students chanted “Build that wall” and made national news didn’t manage to put out the racist flames Donald Trump has fanned. Despite actions on the part of school officials to address that behavior, within a week there was another incident: a student confessed to hanging a noose up in a school bathroom.
There’s so much to regret about the path that this nation is on right now, but another thing we can’t currently measure is the size those regrets will attain. The troubles we have visited on our own house are sure to be visited on the next generation and the next.
IMAGE VIA WIKIPEDIA; PHOTO CREDIT GAGE SKIDMORE