Today, First Lady Melania Trump visited Nashville, Tennessee as the first stop of her “Be Best” campaign that focuses on children’s wellbeing and the threat of bullying. Since the campaign’s unveiling in May, the Tyler Clementi Foundation has welcomed a broader public discussion on the pervasiveness of bullying and encouraged the First Lady to encourage programs that work to prevent bullying from happening.
“Bullying is at a crisis point in the United States and I am glad to see it getting attention from the White House,” said Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “We need to be empowering children to stand up to bullying wherever they find it and strive to be people who are kind in person and online. We want people to feel safe to be themselves in their classroom, on their sports team, at their job and where they pray. I hope that the First Lady’s trip will help Americans understand how devastating bullying is.”
Since losing her son Tyler in 2010 after a vicious incidence of cyberbullying, Clementi, her family and the Tyler Clementi Foundation have worked to create a culture of kindness by creating a movement of upstanders – those who will stand up to bullying and be kind to those who are most at risk of being bullied. She has also invited the First Lady to have an in-person conversation “mom to mom,” about the threats of cyber bullying and what effective advocacy for change should look like. That invitation remains open as the First Lady begins her campaign in earnest.
“Young people deserve a safe and respectful online experience where they are able to be and express themselves without harassment, humiliation or threats of violence,” said Clementi. “No family should experience the loss that we did, which happened after cruel cyberbullying. I hope that the First Lady’s campaign encourages schools, workplaces and houses of worship to teach upstander values and to make kindness a priority. I remain eager to discuss with her the research-based approach we take at the foundation to make our culture a place without bullying.”