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Progress With Anti-Bullying Campaigns Nationwide Being Undermined By 2016 Election Campaign

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

For the first time in twelve years, since I've been teaching high school, there is a perceptible change taking place in my classroom dynamic.  My Muslim students, some whom I have known for two or three years are now telling me for the first time things are being said to them about their religion and who they are.  One young girl whom I've taught for two years told me that this year she's had something said to her about her belief system from several students, including ones she has known since beginning high school and that for the first time they felt uncomfortable about who they were.

I've also picked up rumblings from my students about LGBT's suddenly getting harassment in ways they've never experience before.  This goes for my black students as well who tell me they are hearing the 'N' word more often how than ever before.  There is no doubt something is happening in my school I've never experience before and apparently I'm not the only one:

"I think there's a real danger of harm taking place in all American schoolchildren," Maureen Costello, an education expert at the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), a civil rights group, told Al Jazeera."We've seen 10 or more years of anti-bullying work get rolled back by a hostile atmosphere in many schools. Teachers describe disillusionment, depression and discouragement among kids who feel like they now know what people have thought about them all along," Castello said.

What seems to be causing all of this?  The data from a Southern Poverty Law Center survey of some 2,000 schools across the nation appears to be unambiguous in its findings:

An SPLC survey of some 2,000 US schools found that two-thirds of teachers described their vulnerable students - including blacks, Muslims, Latinos and other minorities - as affected by rhetoric in the 2016 White House race.
It shows a spike in racist bullying. For Muslims - or even some non-Muslim brown-skinned children - the acronym "ISIS" has become a stock taunt, referencing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, which is also known as ISIS).
There doesn't seem to be any coincidence with the findings of this study and the 2016 campaign for the White House where a leading Presidential contender is talking about building walls and describing Mexican immigrants as anything but in a positive light.  At the beginning of businessman Donald Trumps campaign he started a firestorm with this opening gambit to the 2016 race for the White House:
“[Mexico] are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists,” the business mogul said.
The damage being done to the classrooms across the country seems to be undeniable.  The anti-bullying campaign being so assiduously used over the last 10 years now almost seems to be for naught with the prevailing atmosphere rolling in from the hateful rhetoric by the Republican side of the 2016 campaign.  The damage being done by the rhetoric of fear, anger and racism spilling out of the Donald Trump campaign is going to make it so much more difficult to roll back after such positive progress that seemed to be so evident with that nation-wide anti-bullying campaign.  I never imagined the source of ugly xenophobic rhetoric you would hear at this level would be rooted in the campaign for the White House.