A Virginia study recently found that bullying in schools has increased in areas where people voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. According to researchers, bullying rates in those regions of the state are 18 percent higher, while rates of teasing due to race or ethnicity are up nine percent.
“We found consistent differences in teasing and bullying rates that were linked to voting preferences,” Francis Huang, one of the lead researchers and an associate professor at the University of Missouri, said of the results published January 9 in the American Educational Research Association’s Educational Researcher.
The study, run by Huang and Dewey Cornell from the University of Virginia, analyzed over 155,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students in Virginia during 2013, 2015, and 2017. The students were asked questions about bullying in their schools, including whether they had personally been victims.
According to the responses, a 10 percent increase in voters who supported Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton resulted in an eight percent increase in bullying and a five percent increase in teasing based on race or ethnicity. Prior to the election, researchers found “no meaningful differences” for both issues among the Virginia middle school students.
“Parents should be mindful of how their reactions to the presidential election, or the reactions of others, could influence their children,” explained Cornell, who’s a professor at the University of Virginia. “And politicians should be mindful of the potential impact of their campaign rhetoric and behavior on their supporters and indirectly on youth.”
Huang also noted that further studies will be necessary to determine whether voting for the Republican candidate directly caused a spike in bullying. However, he says that the findings “do provide some credence to the widespread perception that some types of teasing and bullying have increased, at least in some localities.”