The Trumps are trying to play both sides of the cyberbullying issue and nobody's buying it.

When it comes to the issue of cyberbullying, the White House is sending some extremely mixed messages.

First lady Melania Trump delivered opening remarks at a federal conference on cyberbullying in Maryland on Monday, August 20. In her speech, she noted that some adults can use a little help when it comes to being good social media citizens.

“Let’s face it: Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits,” she said, possibly alluding to her husband.


‌‌The first lady’s campaign to improve children's social media habits is a large pillar of her Be Best initiative.

But it’s tough to take a word Melania Trump says on the issue seriously because she’s married to perhaps the largest cyberbully on Earth. During her speech, her husband was berating former CIA director John Brennan, calling him “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history” and a political “hack.”

‌‌The president has cyberbullied everyone from his numerous political opponents to the cast of “Hamilton” and rapper Snoop Dogg. On August 14, Donald Trump called former White House aid Omarosa Manigault Newman a "dog."

Although there are no concrete figures on whether the president’s social media behavior has affected cyberbullying rates; studies show that the groups Trump has targeted have seen a rise an increase in harassment.

Cyberbullying is a serious issue facing today’s youth. In 2017, 14.5% of students reported that they were bullied electronically, compared to 15.5% in 2015, 14.8% in 2013, and 16.2% in 2011. Children who are cyberbullied often experience low self-esteem, frustration, suicidal ideation, and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems.

Earlier this year, 12-year-old Gabbie Green died by suicide after being cyberstalked by two classmates.

If Melania Trump is truly concerned with stopping online harassment, she could make a substantial difference simply by starting at home.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Jeff Bridges photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikicommons

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Taking on chemotherapy is no easy task. Pile that onto losing smell, restricted breathing, and medical isolation, and anyone would want to throw in the towel. But for the ever optimistic Bridges, dealing with two health crises simultaneously became a beautiful life lesson, which he shared in a handwritten letter found on his website.


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