Whatever your political beliefs, this year’s election battle — covered 24/7 by online news outlets, cable channels and your Twitter feed — was one of the most polarizing and bitter in history. And it ended with a populace that is on edge. Even before the final results, the American Psychological Association said, 52 percent of Americans said the race was a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

Trump’s surprise upset over Democrat Hillary Clinton appears, at least anecdotally, to have made the situation worse for many people. Children may be especially vulnerable. Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are full of reports (some verifiable and some unsubstantiated) about how their anxiety is playing out: kids who are gay or Muslim being too fearful to get on the school bus Wednesday morning. Episodes of bullying. Children expressing fears about conflict, war and their future.

Norma Mata, 16, said she had her mother pick her up from Richlands High School early on Wednesday after what she said were racist comments in her first period class.

The teacher told the students, who were already discussing the election the night before, they could have two minutes to discuss everything, according to Norma.

That’s when she heard others saying Mexicans shouldn’t be allowed in the country anymore, shouldn’t be allowed to go to school, Norma said. There was talk of deportation.

“After that, I just walked out of the classroom,” said Norma, a girl with Mexican roots who was born in America.

Norma called her mother to pick her up from school on Wednesday, but said she was back in the classroom on Thursday.

Her mother told her to ignore the other students, Norma said, that nothing was going to happen.

“It feels a little bit uncomfortable (going back to school) but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Norma said.

Officials with Onslow County Schools, which were closed Friday for Veteran’s Day, could not be reached for comment.

The high school wasn’t the only place that tensions were high this week. Kari Noell said the students at Blue Creek Elementary participated in a mock election. A third grader, a boy who’s like a brother to Noell, came home upset because other students told the boy Trump was going to send “you and all the Mexicans back,” Noell said.

“He was upset, he was scared,” Noell said.

The boy’s mother has tried to keep him, a Mexican American, shielded from the presidential debate and Noell said the mother was upset that it was pushed on him at school.

Michael W. Yogman, a pediatrician in Cambridge, Mass. and the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health, said the most important message a parent can give to a child is that “we as adults will protect you.”

“There are democratic processes in this country and institutions that will protect all Americans and not allow bigotry to take over. That includes children with same-sex parents, gay children, disabled children and minority children,” he said.

Noell posted about the elementary school election on Facebook and other mothers shared their frustrations — frustrations that stemmed from issues and anger surrounding both candidates: There wouldn’t be a problem at the schools if parents kept comments out of earshot of their children, one mother said. Another mother said she was fine with having a mock election, but she would prefer the candidates be Batman vs. Superman rather than the actual presidential candidates.

Veenu Keller, the owner of Aspirations who has worked with and for children and teenagers for 20 years, said the focus should be on prevention rather than waiting to react once teasing and bullying start. Children need to be taught love and kindness, right from wrong and conflict resolution skills. They need a strong character.

“If you build self-worth in your child, nobody can take that worth away from them,” Keller said.

It’s not about blaming the parents or blaming a school or teachers.

“When our kids leave our home to go to school . . . we have no say on the influence,” she said.

The prevention and fixes start in the home, and Keller encouraged parents to keep negative thoughts about the election away from their children. Kids sponge up their parents’ ideas and comments and then pass them around in public.

“We have to start at home with our kids and teaching them right from wrong,” Keller said. “We have to take a stance and say, ‘This is not OK.’”

The Washington Post contributed to this report.