Bullying among school children may have increased throughout the current election cycle, which features outspoken Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national nonprofit legal advocacy and civil rights organization, found that teachers have noticed an increase in bullying of minority students as a result of this year’s presidential election. Titled “The Trump Effect: The impact of the presidential campaign on our nation’s schools,” the study received approximately 2,000 survey responses from kindergarten to 12th grade teachers across the country. More than two-thirds of respondents reported that students, particularly immigrant students and Muslims, have expressed concern about what will happen to their families after the election. Additionally, more than one-third of respondents observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
For Coral Ortiz, one of the students on the New Haven Board of Education and a senior at Hillhouse High School, the increased incidents of racism this election season has been frightening, as more than two-thirds of New Haven residents identity as people of color, according to a recent report by the research nonprofit Data Haven.
“I think a lot of the time it is scary for high school students to see people advocate for a person who is against what they identify as,” Ortiz said.
She added that support for Trump has also been surprising to many students since New Haven is more liberal than many other cities. Many students have been asking how the election’s outcome will affect them, she added.
Though she believes bullying is a problem in New Haven Public Schools, she does not think the election has exacerbated the issue in the Elm City.
Mahmood Mahmood, a senior at Wilbur Cross High School who arrived in New Haven two years ago as a refugee, said he was bullied in school after Trump began his campaign and that he had to explain to his peers that he was not a terrorist. He said he went through a year-and-a-half of background checks and interviews before coming to the United States, but that many people do not know about the rigorous screening process refugees go through.
“[Some] people had the wrong idea about Muslim people before, but after Trump came on everything got worse,” he said. “People started to believe him.”
According to Data Haven’s 2016 Community Index of Greater New Haven, 65 percent of residents are white non-Hispanics. Roughly 15 percent identify as black or African American, 13 percent as Hispanic and 7 percent as another race. The report also found that, in 2014, 12 percent of the county’s population was from an immigrant background.
Ahmed Elbenni ’19, who tutors refugee children in New Haven through the Yale organization Students of Salaam, said the child he tutors has expressed anxiety surrounding the election.
“He’s a Syrian refugee who has been here for about six months,” Elbenni said. “He doesn’t know a lot about the American political system, he only knows there are elections taking place and thinks if one of the candidates wins, his family might have to leave the country.”
Elbenni said the child did not know the name of the candidate he believed would deport his family, but had heard that one candidate was against Syrian refugees.
NHPS Director of Communications Mercy Quaye said there have not been any reports of a rise in bullying since the start of Trump’s campaign.
The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011.
Correction, Nov. 8: A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that 65 percent of residents in Greater New Haven are nonwhite Hispanics. In fact, 65 percent are white non-Hispanics.”