First lady Melania Trump on Wednesday called on the international community to better protect and support children, speaking out against bullying and urging parents and leaders around the world to “come together for the good of our children because through them, our future will be defined.”
“No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn,” the first lady said at a luncheon hosted at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “We need to step up, come together, and ensure that our children’s future is bright.”
The first lady was the only speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon. She was seated at a table with spouses of other world leaders, including Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron; and Emine Erdoğan, the wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Trump said children are “hit first and hardest in any country” when it comes to “drug addiction, bullying, poverty, disease, trafficking, illiteracy or hunger.” She said protections and opportunities afforded to children now will pay dividends in the future of each nation.
“Show me your civic lessons of today and I will show you your civic leaders of tomorrow. Show me your history lessons of today, and I will show you your political leaders of tomorrow,” the first lady said. “Show me the loving bonds between your families today, and I will show you the patriotism and moral clarity of your nation tomorrow.”
Also in attendance to hear Trump’s speech were fashion designer Rachel Roy and Paolo Zampolli, the first lady’s former agent who first introduced her to her husband, President Donald Trump.
In her remarks, the first lady urged those in her audience to “join me in recommitting ourselves to teaching the next generation to lead and honor the golden rule.” She said it was her generation’s “moral imperative” to be responsible for what children learn.
“Nothing could be more urgent nor worthy a cause than preparing future generations for the adulthood with true moral clarity and responsibility,” Trump said. “To achieve this, we must come together for the good of our children because through them, our future will be defined.”
Trump announced last November that her first campaign as first lady would be an anti-bullying initiative, although she has yet to roll out a policy agenda on the issue. The first lady has been decidedly more limited in her public appearances than many of her predecessors, and Wednesday’s event marked her highest-profile speech of her husband’s tenure as president.
That the first lady would select bullying as a cause to throw the weight of her office behind struck some as ironic, given the president’s penchant for lobbing insults and heated rhetoric at his opponents, both online and in stated remarks.
“We must teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of the kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership which can only be taught by example,” the first lady said. “By our own example, we must teach children to be good stewards of the world they will inherit.”
Tara Palmeri contributed to this report.