How Hate-Speech at School Can Lead to Poor Academic Outcomes

The U.S. Department of Education reports that in 2017, 6 percent of students overall were called a hate-related word while at school. Of students who reported being called a hate-related word, a lower percentage of White students (26 percent) reported that the hate-related word was related to their race than did students who were Black (68 percent).

The report also documents that students who were called a hate-related word felt more fear, practiced more avoidance behaviors, stayed home more from school due to fear, and generally skipped classes more than students who were not called a hate-related word. Specifically, 27 percent of students who had been called a hate-related word avoided some location, class, or activity at school compared with just 5 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word. Some 8 percent of students who had been called a hate-related word stayed home from school due to fear that someone would attack or harm them, compared with 1 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word.

These absences from school and skipping classes and other school events can have a negative effect on academic performance, resulting in lower grades and test scores and higher dropout rates. The report also notes that victims of prejudice or discrimination, including those who are called hate-related words, also experience poorer mental health and higher substance use compared with students who experience other types of harassment.

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