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Leave Barron alone

It’s a popular article title recently. You can find it as a hashtag on Twitter and a subject of interest on Facebook in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and first week of office. Barron Trump, Trump’s youngest child at age 10, appears easy prey for people who not only disagree with his father’s policies but need no more excuse to attack anything with a Trump name on it. In his defense, the White House released a formal caution to journalists to leave Barron out of political reporting. “It is a longstanding tradition that the children of Presidents are afforded the opportunity to grow up outside of the political spotlight.

This is only fair. Barron is a little boy. He has no control over what his father says and does, unlike Trump’s older children who might have more influence. His father’s personality, language and actions will not be changed by people cyberbullying him, calling him names, claiming he has a neurological disorders or otherwise challenging his mental state. Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich even went as far to say Barron would be America’s “first homeschool shooter” on Twitter. Her statement was met with heavy backlash and she was suspended from her job.

Barron is not the first White House kid to feel the sting of the White House publicity. Elizabeth Lauten, spokeswoman for Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, criticized Malia and Sasha Obama in Nov. 2014, ages 16 and 13 at the time, for looking bored while attending a public event with their father. In the post, Lauten wrote, “Try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play… Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department… Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you.”

She then added a final twist to the knife: “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.” Lauten later stepped down from her Tennessee GOP position, but the fact remains: people like Lauten target Malia and Sasha merely as a proxy for their father and his policies, just as people used to target Barbara and Jenna Bush during their father’s presidency.

Barbara and Jenna Bush recently wrote Sasha and Malia a letter, published by Time Magazine, as a display of support for the sisters as they leave the White House with their father. The last paragraph reads, “You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we.”

It appears all children living in the White House struggle with harsh criticism simply for their family relations, on top of seeing their parents criticized as well. One can only wonder how children, as they grow into their own identities, cope with such public scrutiny.

Barron Trump is his own person. He is an individual. He is not an extension of his father, his mother or any of his older brothers and sisters. He can’t help who his father is. No matter your political standing, if you target a 10-year-old with intentions of harming his family by extension, your words should not be tolerated. If you hated how people chose to attack Sasha and Malia Obama during their father’s terms, or wanted justice for Chelsea Clinton after Rush Limbaugh called her the White House dog when she was only 13 years old, then you have no business turning your back on Barron.

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