Bullying rates in Trump-supporting Virginia districts rose after 2016 election: study

Rates of bullying in some Virginia middle schools located in districts that voted for President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE rose following the 2016 election, according to a study released Wednesday.

In the study from researchers at the universities of Virginia and Missouri, data revealed that bullying rates rose by double digits in some middle schools located in areas that supported the president, while rates of bullying along racial or ethnic lines increased by a smaller amount.

The rate of middle schoolers being bullied primarily increased in Republican districts, the study noted.


Rates of bullying rose by 18 percent in districts that supported Trump, according to the study, where previously there had been no difference between rates of bullying between Democratic and Republican districts.

"It is obviously difficult to demonstrate a causal link between statements by a public figure and schoolyard bullying. Nevertheless, there are incidents in which youth made threats and jeering statements that closely matched language used by President Trump," the study concludes.

"Such incidents are suggestive of the social learning model of aggression and classic studies showing how easily children model the aggressive behavior of adults," it continues.

The survey processed data from 155,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students to determine rates of bullying in the state, according to the researchers, and "provide[s] modest support for educator concerns about increased teasing and bullying since the 2016 presidential election," the study's authors wrote.

Dewey Cornell, a co-author of the study, told The Viriginian-Pilot this week that the study's results show that parents need to do more to recognize the effects their political rhetoric has on children.

"Parents should be mindful of how their reactions to the presidential election, or the reactions of others, could influence their children. And politicians should be mindful of the potential impact of their campaign rhetoric and behavior on their supporters and indirectly on youth," he said.