Melania Trump's anti-bullying agenda is driven by her own experience, she says — as "the most bullied person in the world"
In a sit-down with ABC News, the first lady told chief national affairs correspondent Tom Llamas that her “Be Best” policy platform targeting online bullies is personal.
“I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world,” she said in the sit-down, taped during her recent tour of Africa. “One of them — if you really see what people are saying about me.”
“That’s why ‘Be Best’ is focusing on online behavior and social media,” Mrs. Trump continued. “We need to educate the children [about] social, emotional behavior.”
Mrs. Trump first pledged to combat the rise of cyberbullying a few days before her husband Donald Trump won the election in November 2016.
Critics have called the first lady hypocritical for adopting the cause, given the president’s well-documented habit of lashing out at his foes on Twitter, often using degrading and even sometimes racist nicknames.
“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing the topic,” she said back in March. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue and I know that will continue, but it will not stop me from doing what I know is right. I am here with one goal: helping children and our next generation.”
Previously, Mrs. Trump has defended the harsh words her husband uses on Twitter. “As you may know by now, when you attack him he will punch back 10 times harder,” she told a crowd in Milwaukee back in April 2016. “No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal.”
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Last September, the first lady spoke out against bullying at a U.N. luncheon. “It remains our generation’s moral imperative to take responsibility for what our children learn. We must turn our focus right now to the message and content they are exposed to on a daily basis — social media, the bullying,” she said at an event for spouses of world leaders at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
“When we join together as parents caring for children, whether they live in our own families, across the street, across the nation, or across the globe, we claim our responsibility to the next generation to ensure they are prepared to accept the torch of leadership for the world of tomorrow.”
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The former model — who is a mother to Mr. Trump’s youngest son, 12-year-old Barron — also spoke about the importance of setting a good example for children.
“The most important and joyous role I ever had is to be a mother to a young son,” she said. “We must teach each other the values of empathy and communication … kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership, which can only be taught by example.”
Also in her chat with ABC News, Mrs. Trump said that she hasn’t trusted some of the people in her husband’s administration.
“It’s harder to govern,” she said. “You always need to watch your back.”
ABC News’ full interview with the first lady, titled Being Melania — The First Lady, airs Friday (10 p.m. ET).