WASHINGTON, November 15, 2018 — As she stepped up to the podium Thursday to address the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference, First Lady Melania Trump’s message for critics who say she should stay away from making the fight against cyberbullying her cause was a familiar one: I don’t care — do you?
While those words became closely associated with her visit to a detention center housing immigrant children who her husband’s administration had taken from their parents, they also summed up the message she delivered at Thursday’s conference.
Speaking at the outset of a panel featuring a number of student anti-cyberbullying advocates, Mrs. Trump addressed her detractors head-on by noting that the argument made by critics — that she shouldn’t be making cyberbullying a cause if she’s not willing to confront her husband about the Twitter-based name calling that has become a centerpiece of his political persona — was “not news or surprising” to her.
“I remain committed to tackling this topic because it will provide a better world for our children,” she said. “I hope that like I do, you will consider using their negative words as motivation to do all you can to bring awareness and understanding about responsible online behavior.”
Mrs. Trump said the conference’s theme, “Creating a Culture of Responsibility Online,” was what her “Be Best” anti-cyberbullying initiative is all about, adding that as a mother to a young son, she feels strongly that children should be taught about online safety and responsible habits from a young age.
Noting that students are routinely taught about showing respect for others in an in-person setting, she said that the question of how to translate those lessons into the digital world was one of the “challenging questions” she has faced as both a mother and as First Lady.
“Today’s technology provides people with a digital shield to hide behind, and being anonymous often takes the place of being caring and responsible, which can lead to children and adults feeling empowered to be unkind and at times, cruel,” she said.