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Middle school bullying worse in counties that backed Trump

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Incidents of racist bullying increased at schools in counties that backed President Donald Trump — and actually decreased in areas carried by Hillary Clinton.

Anecdotal evidence from around the country showed teenagers invoking Trump’s name or his proposed border wall to taunt classmates, and some researchers studied a statewide survey in Virginia to determine whether the election was linked to these incidents, reported the New York Times.

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The state’s public school students complete online surveys every other year about their schools’ social environment, including bullying and teasing, and researchers examined surveys of middle schoolers, which are conducted in odd years.

That gave researchers data for seventh- and eighth-graders from 2015 and 2017 — so, right before and after the presidential election.

Dewey Cornell, a University of Virginia education professor, and Francis Huang, a quantitative researcher from the University of Missouri-Columbia, issued a peer-reviewed paper Wednesday that outlines their findings, which show a clear correlation between bullying and the election.

In 2015, there was little difference in bullying rates between areas that backed Clinton and areas that supported Trump.

But two years later, middle schoolers reported 18 percent more bullying in Trump counties than Clinton counties.

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Bullying actually declined slightly in Clinton counties between 2015 and 2017, and increased in Trump counties.

Researchers found racial bullying increased in Trump counties — and they also noted that bullying rates correlated with the strength of voter support for the Republican candidate.

In other words, the stronger the support for Trump, the more likely that middle schoolers would experience bullying and teasing about their race or, to a lesser degree, their sexual orientation.

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That correlation was still there even after adjusting for socioeconomic status and parental education, Huang told the Times.

“The adults that voted for Trump are much more likely to emulate Trump and be supportive of attitudes that we saw turned into bullying and teasing in middle school,” Cornell said. “I suspect it’s an indirect effect of the social environment that kids are in. It may be their parents, it may be other adults, it may be the adults in schools.”

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