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Teachers Say Harsh Tone Of Presidential Campaign Is Affecting Kids

Some teachers say the negative tone of the 2016 presidential campaign is beginning to take a toll on their students.  Alison Holm reports.

Sunday's presidential debate began with a reminder from a member of the audience that many young people are watching the campaign closely as part of class assignments.  Many voters have grown weary of the aggressive tone of the campaign, and some are worried that it's having an unwelcome impact on kids.  Groveport Madison Local history teacher Joy Bach says her students are confused.  

"My students think the presidential election is very ugly this year.  It's very mean spirited, very nasty.  You know we're trying to teach eighth-graders not to be negative and nasty, and it's kinda hard to stop that when they see the adults they should be looking up to portraying those attitudes."  

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown joined members of the Ohio Education Association in a teleconference Tuesday to talk about the impact of the election on kids.  Brown quotes a recent study that claims the effect is being felt in classrooms and on campuses.  

"There's a report by the southern Poverty Law Center that found... 'that this campaign season is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color... and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom.  Teachers have noticed and increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.'  It's easy to read the study, and think those problems are elsewhere, and not in our state.  But just this month, members of Kent State's Spanish and Latino Student Association, known as SALSA, were targeted with shouts of 'build the wall' as they marched in the homecoming parade."  

Reynoldsburg High School teacher Gina Daniels says the campaigns don't have to be nasty to be real.  

"I have plenty of teachable moments out of this, but I could use a positive example as a teachable moment as much as I can use a negative.  So, seeing the negative doesn't have to happen to teach students how to be a good leader."  

The Southern Poverty Law Center online study focused on the anecdotal effect of the Donald Trump campaign on classrooms, but some teachers say the entire race has raised troubling questions for their kids.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.