BATs Statement on Campaign Rhetoric
We, the BAT Board of Directors, are troubled by reports that children across the country are suffering due to the harsh rhetoric espoused during the current presidential campaign. Children are no more immune to the daily bombardment of political news as adults who choose not to engage, but instead are forced to make sense of what they hear which may not be explained to them in a way they can understand. Hearing statements about groups of Americans being deported, walls being built to keep people out, or watching Americans be physically assaulted during a campaign rally can leave America’s children fearful for their classmates, neighbors, family members, and themselves. That fear can turn into anger and lead to incidents of bullying by children who are not old enough to vote yet are influenced by a viral replay of campaign hate speech.
As educators we have a responsibility to help young children make sense of what they hear, calm their fears, and provide them with a safe space to learn and grow. We understand that our families come from diverse perspectives and beliefs and it is not the schools place to devalue or shame a child’s family. However, while in school we are responsible for providing a welcoming classroom where all children thrive, so we remind children that some things discussed at home are not allowed in school. As we work to model the golden rule, we must remember that it applies even during presidential campaigns.
When faced with students' questions, fears, and anger, teachers should use the opportunity to teach students about our government and explain how laws are passed and how campaign speeches rarely become law. It is also the perfect opportunity to teach children to appreciate diversity in every human being on the planet. We must encourage our children to be strong global citizens that value other humans even when they disagree with beliefs. Through open dialogue that welcomes student input we can use this unfortunate opportunity to promote civil discourse, acceptance of diverse views, and respect for humanity.