First lady Melania Trump to keep her focus on children as she formally rolls out policy initiatives

The first lady is expected to formally roll out her policy initiatives on Monday

May 05, 2018, 10:02 AM

Melania Trump will formally roll out her policy initiatives on Monday with an expected continuation of her focus on children.

The first lady has in her first 15 months in that role championed children's issues, such as the need to prevent cyberbullying and protect children affected by the opioid epidemic.

Her spokeswoman told ABC News that Melania Trump will not narrow her focus to one specific concern but will address multiple issues facing the nation's children.

"In this day and age, children are faced with several issues as they grow up. Mrs. Trump wishes to help the next generation by creating change through awareness on a variety of issues that affect children," said the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham. "As has been evidenced by the many events Mrs. Trump has participated in during her time as first lady, her focus will be the overall well-being of children."

The apparent irony of Melania Trump taking on the issue of cyberbullying given her husband’s propensity to engage in personal attacks on Twitter has attracted some criticism and mockery.

While she has publicly acknowledged the criticism, she has said she won't let it stop her.

“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” the first lady said in March at a roundtable with technology leaders that was billed by the White House as a discussion on cybersafety and technology. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right."

Grisham has also defended the first lady’s interest in internet safety, saying that Trump is "an independent woman who is doing what she feels is right for children. This should be celebrated, not criticized."

Since her husband's election, Melania Trump has veered from tradition in some ways such as by continuing to live in New York City for the first several months of her husband's term while the Trumps' son, Barron, finished the school year.

She has long expressed concerns about cyberbullying and the larger need to protect youth on the internet, including declaring even before her husband's election that she intended to make the issue one of her “main focuses” if he became president.

“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other. We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media,” she said in November 2016. “It will be one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your first lady.”

She has also sought to raise attention about the opioid epidemic’s effects on children, such as by visiting hospitals and clinics to observe responses to the addiction crisis.

“In my role as first lady, much of my focus has been towards understanding the negative effects the opioid epidemic is having on our children and young mothers,” Trump said at an event in March in New Hampshire. “Many young mothers are not even aware of this disease, so we must continue educating them about the real dangers of opioids on unborn babies.”

In October, she traveled to West Virginia to visit a nonprofit opioid recovery center for infants, where she toured the facility and met with families enrolled in the recovery program.

"It is my hope that we can find ways to create more of the opportunities afforded by places like Lily’s Place, so that we can continue to help infants and children grow into happy, healthy adults,” she said after the visit.

Trump has also continued to put a focus on healthy living and nutrition that was a primary focus of her predecessor, Michelle Obama, even carrying on the White House kitchen garden that was begun by Obama. Trump last held a harvesting event at the garden in September, picking vegetables along with some children.

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