Beronica Ruiz, 35, had met with her 12-year-old son’s school administrators earlier in the day to discuss bullying against him that had occurred. She probably never thought that her son’s bullies would end up targeting her, too.
Ruiz had learned from her son’s school that he had been targeted by other students, who had chanted toward him, “All Mexicans should go back behind the wall.” Her son stood up to the other kids, telling them “we’re all immigrants” and questioning why they had to speak that way, the Washington Post reported.
The students changed their tone to a more ominous one, threatening Ruiz’s son with violence. He told a teacher he feared for his safety, which prompted the meeting with his mother and administrators.
While walking with her son, and pushing the stroller of her 1-year-old in the nearby neighborhood, Ruiz said her son noticed they were being followed by some of the teens who had been bothering him at school that day. One of the teens, a 13-year-old, confront her son and punched him in the face. The mother reacted, trying to intervene, but the teen acted violently toward her as well, pushing her to the ground.
— NJ.com (@njdotcom) June 25, 2019
Ruiz landed on her head. She was knocked unconscious, and had to stay in the hospital for two days after she woke up. She had a concussion and facial fractures.
“This was a brutal hate crime, and it was committed by a 13-year-old,” the family’s lawyer, Daniel Santiago, said. “I don’t know what circumstances could give rise to a 13-year-old boy having such hate in his heart that he would commit this brutal attack and leave a woman essentially to die in front of her children without any remorse or any twinge of conscience.”
Bullying, and specifically acts that have targeted racial minorities, has been on the rise ever since President Donald Trump was elected president — indeed, the children at Ruiz’s son’s school seem to have been motivated by Trump’s own rhetoric, given their chanting about the border wall he has proposed.
The research backs such suppositions: in one study, data found that there seemed to be a direct correlation between bullying increases and areas in which Trump performed well in the 2016 presidential election.
Another study, performed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, sought the opinions of teachers themselves in the year after Trump was elected. Sorting through more than 5,000 comments from educators that were received based on a questionnaire sent to them, half of teachers surveyed reported an increase in “uncivil political discourse” by kids under their watch, The Nation reported. Over a third saw anti-immigrant sentiment from their students.