Clap your hands, America! We did it!

We're number one! U-S-A! U-S-A! Photo via iStock.


Our presidential election is officially scaring the ever-loving bejeezus out of children.

U-S-A? U-S-A? Photo via iStock.

Thanks, in no small part, to this guy:

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

The Southern Poverty Law Center surveyed 2,000 teachers and school officials about how the 2016 election was affecting their classrooms.

None of the questions on the survey mentioned Trump by name.

But it's pretty much impossible to read the responses without concluding that The Donald is the main nightmare-driver for America's youth, particularly youth of color.

The numbers are scary.

The report found that 67% of the educators questioned reported hearing students of color — Muslims and Latinos especially, but also African-Americans and others — express fear for their and their families' futures after the election was over.

An immigrant rights rally in Washington D.C. Photo by Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.

More than 33% reported a general rise in nasty comments about Muslims and immigrants.

"One of my students who is Muslim is worried that he will have to wear a microchip identifying him as Muslim."

More than 40% reported feeling nervous about bringing the election up in class.

The quotes from teachers and school administrators are even scarier than the numbers (all respondents were quoted anonymously).

Protestors at a Trump rally in New York. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

On how the tone in their classrooms is much, much different this time:

"Kids are asking frightened questions, rather thanpositive ones," one teacher responded.

"The hateful speech of Trump has frightened my eighth graders," said another.

On how students have internalized the bigoted rhetoric emerging from the campaign trail:

"One of my students who isMuslim is worried that he will have to wear a microchipidentifying him as Muslim."

"I have noticed that many of our students, as young as first grade, are asking questions about what may happento their family members that are here without theproper documentation."

"A student has been called terrorist and ISIS. Another was told he would be deported if Trump wins."

On what students of color think their fellow Americans think of them:

"My Hispanic students seem dejected about not only Donald Trump's rhetoric, but also about the amount of people who seem to agree with him. They feel sure that Americans, their fellow students, and even their teachers hate them (regardless of their citizenship)."

"My students are frustrated with the racism andprejudice that is emerging from the presidentialcampaign. They are scared of what will happen andthey feel helpless."

Keep in mind: This is just a small sample of what these teachers and school administers had to say. There are over 200 pages of these kinds of statements. You can go read the whole thing if you want. I'm not sure you want to, but you can.

A couple important caveats about the report:

It's just a single survey and a nonscientific one at that.

The types of teachers who respond to a survey from the SPLC — an organization chartered to fight racism — could be more likely to speak up about injustice and the impact of bigotry on their schools and students than teachers who aren't as tuned in to these issues.

But, win or lose, the Trump campaign's race-based fearmongering has already begun to bleed out into the real world.

Students at an Iowa High School were heard chanting "Trump! Trump!" after losing a basketball game to a school with a higher percentage of Latino students.

In Wisconsin, high school students reportedly yelled "Donald Trump, build that wall!" at players of color on an opposing soccer team.

Pro- and anti-Trump supporters argue in Utah. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

A Kansas man allegedly chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!" while beating a Hispanic man and a Muslim man, after subjecting them to a round of racial slurs.

Trump supporters have assaulted nonwhite protestors at actual Trump rallies.

A black woman was shoved — repeatedly — at a Trump event in Kentucky.

A teenage protestor was pepper-sprayed in the face at a Trump rally in Wisconsin.

A Trump supporter told a group of protestors to "Go to Auschwitz," while giving what appeared to be a Nazi salute.

Two assailants beat up and urinated on a homeless man in Boston while reportedly said, "Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported."

A Trump speech prompted a young Muslim girl in Texas to fear that the army was going to come and take her family and her away, prompting members of the military to rally to her defense.

It's no wonder our kids are scared.

Even one child frightened is too many. Hundreds is a national disgrace.

Scientific or not, the survey reveals that many, many children — particularly children of color — are indeed frightened about what might happen this November. For good reason. The list of truly terrifying things Trump has said and/or pledged to do is long — and growing.

Liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, we owe it to them to stop this guy:

Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images.

But more than that, we owe it to them to undo the damage Trump has already done by creating space for racist violence and speech to thrive. That means we need to call out hateful, biased rhetoric when we see it, and make it clear that, no matter what our political beliefs are, bigotry has no place in politics.

Once we do that, we can get back to arguing about what really matters.

Not actually what they were really saying. But a man can dream.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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