In the midst of rising criticism of the detrimental effects of social media on children, first lady Melania Trump this week unveiled a campaign focused on encouraging childhood well-being in today’s “fast-paced and ever-connected world.”
In a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House Monday, the first lady said her initiative, called “Be Best,” will focus on social media use, internet safety, cyberbullying, and opioid abuse.
News outlets immediately harped on similarities between a booklet distributed by the first lady about online safety and information previously given out by the Obama administration. The Federal Trade Commission later confirmed it asked the first lady to distribute the booklet and agreed to the new “Be Best” branding.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Trump, released a biting statement accusing media of lobbing baseless accusations at the first lady and encouraging them instead to “attempt to Be Best in their own professions and focus on some of the children and programs Mrs. Trump highlighted in her remarks yesterday.” —K.C.
Video gambling for children
Legislators across the country have introduced bills to protect children from what some believe is a gateway to gambling: video game “loot boxes.” The digital boxes are purchased using real money and unlock randomized rewards in games such as character outfits or powerful weapons.
Lawmakers in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and Washington are fighting to make games with loot boxes illegal for minors, according to The New York Times.
A Minnesota bill introduced late last month would prohibit the sale of games with loot boxes to individuals under age 18 and require the games to include a printed warning on the box, stating, “This game contains a gambling-like mechanism that may promote the development of a gaming disorder that increases the risk of harmful mental or physical health effects and may expose the user to significant financial risk.”
In April, the Belgium Gaming Commission declared games with loot boxes illegal. Failure to comply by game publishers could result in a 800,000 euro ($950,000) fine and up to five years in prison. —K.C.
Abuse of power
In a sickening case decided last week, a former Kentucky district judge was sentenced to 20 years in prison for human trafficking and other sex crimes involving minors. Timothy Nolan, 71, was a Campbell County district judge in the late 1970s and early ’80s, a practicing attorney, an elected member of the local school board, and a conservative political activist. He pleaded guilty to charges involving 19 women, seven under age 16. The majority of Nolan’s victims were addicted to opioids, and he was convicted of using their addictions to force them to comply with sexually abusive demands. Nolan received the maximum possible sentence for human-trafficking charges. —K.C.
Portugal’s president this week vetoed a bill that would have allowed citizens age 16 and older to change their genders on official documents without a medical report. President Marcelo Rebelo sent the bill back to lawmakers on Wednesday, asking them to include a mandatory medical report for minors. —K.C.