Did presidential debate illustrate schoolyard bullying?

Weight is not typically a topic in presidential debates but candidates referenced it several times Monday, starting with Republican nominee Donald Trump’s suggestion the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers was not the work of Russia but perhaps “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Then, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton assailed Trump’s calling women fat, pig and slobs. Trump defended himself, but admitted he’s insulted comic Rosie O’Donnell, saying, “Some of it I said in entertainment, some of it said to somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell. I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.” Clinton also cited a past Miss Universe winner who Trump publicly castigated for gaining “massive” amounts of weight.

Trump’s comments sparked a lot of discussion today, including a statement from a mental health expert who said the insults were a form of bullying all too common in schools.

“When a presidential candidate makes an accusation that the hacking of information in our country might not be the Russians, but a 400-pound person (in bed), I believe this bullying rhetoric must be addressed,” said the University of Pennsylvania’s Linda Lucker Leibowitz. “Bullying has been a huge barrier to the academic and social/emotional growth of many of my students over the years. “

To read more, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.

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