Can ugly campaign rhetoric and electoral bullying trickle down to students, leading to more bullying in schools? What about in North Carolina?
That’s what Politico tried to discover with data mined from a handful of school systems across the country. Did students mimic Donald Trump’s aggressive attacks against his rivals with name calling, bullying and other questionable behavior in their classrooms?
Anecdotal reports of such behavior have been called the “Trump effect” by teacher unions, advocacy groups and opponents of the president-elect.
Politico requested bullying and harassment reports from more than a dozen school systems, including the largest in the country and some in battleground states such as North Carolina where negative campaigning probably was at its height.
Wake County and six other districts had fulfilled Politico’s request as of last week: Milwaukee, Wis.; Fairfax, Va.; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Portland, Ore.; and Columbus City, Ohio.
In those districts, there was no significant spike in reported incidents of bullying or harassment, according to the data Politico collected.
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights also provided data showing reports of racial harassment appear to be happening at about the same rate this fiscal year as in the previous few years.
Incidents of reported racial harassment in schools reached a peak of 404 in fiscal year 2013 and have declined since then, according to Politico’s report. There were 344 reported incidents in K-12 schools in fiscal year 2016, according to the office. There have been 53 incidents reported so far in fiscal year 2017 (which started in October).
But Politico’s report still was missing data, including reports from the four largest districts in the country: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami-Dade. According to Politico’s report, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago still are working on the request for information.
Miami-Dade refused to provide the data unless Politico paid $204 for it. No other system placed a fee on the information.
When Politico requested the information from Philadelphia, the school system flatly refused to provide it, saying bullying and harassment statistics were not public information under Pennsylvania law.
Politico also noted that the data in its report only included incidents of bullying and harassment that were reported, noting that many incidents probably go unreported.
“So it’s not necessarily a full picture of what’s going on,” Politico said in its report. “But the numbers do provide a useful snapshot of bullying activity in K-12 districts across the country.”
Politico’s data also only included reports through November. And there’s anecdotal evidence that tension increased in schools during and after the election, Politico reported.
One incident that made headlines involved a black Minneapolis-area high school student who found racist graffiti in a school’s restrooms, along with phrases such as “Make America Great Again” and “Trump Train” alongside racial slurs, a teacher reported. Videos also surfaced that appeared to show students in different areas of the country promoting Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border, or harassing students of Hispanic decent.
An online survey by the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted in the days after the election showed that 80 percent of the more than 10,000 teachers, counselors and administrators who responded to the survey said that tensions had increased at their schools and that students were anxious about their futures.