Bullying has become a hot topic of late. With the increased access to the internet and social media, much of it has now become psychological bullying of young teens who can’t even escape the bullying when they leave school at the end of the day. The result is campaigns all over the world from advocacy groups and those high up in governments.
First Lady Melania Trump has spoken up about it plenty through her Be Best initiative, and now former President Barack Obama has echoed her sentiments.
Despite agreeing on the fact that bullying needs to stop, they had very different messages, Newsweek reported.
“We tend to rise to the expectations that are set for us. If a young boy is taught early on, ‘You are going to be kind to people, not bully people,’ that will have an impact,” Obama said.
“If you say, ‘You treat young women with respect. They are not objects. They are humans with the same aspirations and desires, and they are just as worthy of respect as you are,’ that has an impact. We’ve got to set that tone early in life.”
Instead of arguing for people to fight back against bullies, Obama pushed for people to stop being bullies in the first place, and to treat one another with respect instead.
“When you’re helping somebody … and you see the impact, that gives you confidence.”
Obama also laid the blame for the continued existence of bullying at the feet of pop culture, saying that modern music and movies only seeks to reinforce toxic masculinity and the message that men are superior to women.
He also added that money and fame seem to arbitrarily determine social status, leaving people trying to assert their dominance over others who have less.
The former president was speaking at an event to mark the fifth anniversary of his initiative My Brother’s Keeper, which he started in honor of the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
Melania has been working against bullying since the start of her Be Best initiative and has regularly taken to Twitter to reinforce her message. She has also traveled outside of the U.S., even making a trip to four countries in Africa last year to speak about Be Best.
Many have been highly critical of Melania for trying to prevent bullying among children and teens, seemingly idly standing by while her husband bullies people over social media.