Melania Trump speakers at bullying prevention event

Support children to fight ‘destructive and harmful’ online abuse, says Mrs Trump

Image credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

Speaking at a cyber-bullying prevention event, the First Lady of the US has encouraged tech companies to steer young people away from cyber bullying and instead towards being good online citizens.

Although she keeps a lower profile than many other presidential spouses, Melania Trump has made cyber-bullying prevention a key part of her role as First Lady. This has sparked disbelief and mirth among commentators, who note her husband’s notorious use of Twitter to insult opponents, appear to threaten whole nations and issue ad hominem attacks to other world leaders.

In May 2018, Melania Trump launched the ‘Be Best’ initiative, which is focused on promoting the values of “encouragement, kindness, compassion and respect” in children, particularly with regard to social media use. A booklet to promote the campaign attracted criticism for having text almost identical to a 2014 Federal Trade Commission document.

Melania Trump opened the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Rockville, Maryland, expanding upon this aspect of the campaign in a speech calling on companies to support children in preventing social media abuse.

“I launched my Be Best campaign in May with a focus on the many issues facing children today, one of them being the safe and responsible use of social media,” she said. “Let’s face it; most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults.”

“It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. This is why Be Best chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting.”

Melania Trump added that adults must do “all we can” to provide children with information and tools to ensure that they are safe online. She encouraged technology companies to provide greater opportunities for children to share their suggestions encouraging good online citizenship and said that she was “inspired” by young people’s “commitment to reducing peer-to-peer bullying through kindness and open communication.”

On the same day that Melania Trump addressed the convention, her husband took to Twitter to lambast former CIA director John Brennan as “a hack” and the “worst CIA director in our country’s history”.  In other recent tweets, Trump described female former aide Omarosa Manigault as “a crazed, crying lowlife” and “that dog”. He also implied that athlete LeBron James and journalist Don Lemon - both of whom are African-American - were unintelligent.

Speaking after Trump’s election victory, Melania Trump told reporters that she rebukes Trump “all the time” for his online behaviour, although he will “do what he wants to do in the end. He’s an adult”.

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