Clin­ton fights bul­ly­ing

Chil­dren’s book aims to make world ‘safer place’ for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

Calgary Herald - - BOOKS - BROOKE LEF­FERTS

Start Now! You Can Make a Dif­fer­ence Chelsea Clin­ton Penguin Ran­dom House

NEW YORK Chelsea Clin­ton says she’s nat­u­rally an op­ti­mist and de­spite en­dur­ing name-call­ing from the time she was a child, she chooses to an­swer in­sults — even on Twit­ter — with kind­ness and re­spect.

“Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing is a huge chal­lenge across our coun­try,” says Clin­ton, 38. “I think we need those of us with plat­forms to not ig­nore the trolls, not to be­come con­sumed by them, but to shine a light and say here’s how you can re­spond where you’re calmly de­fend­ing your­self, but you’re also show­ing it’s not OK and you’re not de­grad­ing your own hu­man­ity in do­ing that.”

It’s one of sev­eral mes­sages in her new book, Start Now! You Can Make a Dif­fer­ence. In it, Clin­ton en­cour­ages chil­dren to make a pos­i­tive change in the world by ed­u­cat­ing them­selves and tak­ing ac­tion. The book fo­cuses on pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, help­ing save an­i­mals, stay­ing healthy and putting an end to bul­ly­ing.

Start Now! is Clin­ton’s fourth chil­dren’s book. Her role as an au­thor is one of sev­eral Clin­ton jug­gles, in­clud­ing moth­er­hood, be­ing vice-chair­man of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and teach­ing at Columbia Univer­sity. Her lat­est book was in­spired by the no­tion that age doesn’t mat­ter when it comes to ac­tivism.

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved that you’re never too young or too old to make a dif­fer­ence. And then when I be­came a mom, I think I felt that even more keenly be­cause all of a sud­den I had, you know, first Char­lotte and then Ai­dan, these lit­tle peo­ple in the world. I wanted the world to be a health­ier, more equitable, more just safer place for them than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions,” she said.

Mak­ing the world a safer place, in her eyes, also means abol­ish­ing bul­ly­ing.

It’s a topic Clin­ton knows only too well, en­dur­ing bru­tal crit­i­cism of her looks when she was grow­ing up in the White House (Satur­day Night Live did a skit pok­ing fun at her at the time). There were also those who tar­geted her be­cause she is the daugh­ter of for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and for­mer U.S. sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“So when I was con­fronted di­rectly — even as a child — and peo­ple would say aw­ful things to me, I would say, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t feel that way. I don’t think I’m ugly or born in sin or the fam­ily dog or that my par­ents should have aborted me or, you know, that, like, we all should be dead,”’ she said. “I mean, these are all things that peo­ple said to me when I was a kid, and they were al­ways said by much older peo­ple.”

Decades later, the taunts still come — these days via so­cial me­dia. At first Clin­ton ig­nored them, but re­cently she started to speak up.

“I started to worry that by ig­nor­ing it, it wasn’t de­priv­ing the trolls of oxy­gen, it was maybe taken as kind of im­plicit — not en­dorse­ment — but that I was some­how OK with that lan­guage and that be­hav­iour,” she said. “And I think par­tic­u­larly be­ing a par­ent now I never want my kids or any kid to think that that’s OK.”


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