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.