Melania Trump launches initiative to prevent child bullying

WASHINGTON — First Lady Melania Trump on Monday launched her first White House initiative, which will focus on improving children’s well-being — including preventing cyber bullying.

“As a mother and as First Lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast- paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” she said at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, as President Trump watched on from the audience.

“It is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”

The first lady’s first major solo event since moving to the White House came as a new poll found she is enjoying surging popularity — boasting a 57 percent favorability rating, up 10 points from January and higher than that any her husband has ever enjoyed.

It also comes as president’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels dominates the headlines and amid questions over whether president’s own penchant for railing against people on Twitter could undercut his wife’s anti-bullying efforts.

But unlike recent public events where the couple’s chemistry has appeared a little frosty, the Trumps greeted each other warmly Monday with a hug and kisses.

In addition to social media use, Mrs. Trump’s awareness campaign, dubbed “Be Best,” will concentrate on general well-being and opioid abuse.

The former model highlighted several programs she said are already helping promote kids’ “social and emotional health” — like the “buddy bench,” where seats are placed in elementary schools that lonely kids can sit to let others know they’re in need of a friend.

The announcement was light on specifics, but she did say that Be Best will champion programs like this “with the hope that other schools or community groups will be inspired to replicate their efforts and take steps to improve the well of our children.”

Following her remarks, Trump signed proclamation designating May 7 as “Be Best Day.”

“America is truly blessed to have a first lady who is so devoted to our country and to our children,” he said, before signing the papers and kissing her on the cheek.

“Over the past 15 months, Melania has visited hospitals, schools, families who have suffered from the opioid crisis and suffered very deeply. Everywhere she has gone, Americans have been touched by her sincerity, moved by her grace and lifted by her love.”

Melania Trump largely stayed away from the campaign trail during Trump’s unprecedented rise to the White House and has avoided the spotlight and dicey policy issues while in Washington.

But the initiative announced Monday will be her policy focus for the remainder of her time in the White House.

She follows in the footsteps of Former First Lady Michelle Obama, who launched the “Let’s Move campaign” and promoted healthy eating and exercise, and Laura Bush, who focused on literacy through her “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn” effort.

Hillary Clinton jumped into policy as First Lady and helped devise a new healthcare program that failed to get the support of congress.

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