Bully for him! Trump mini-me snoozes his way to stardom
He was a special guest at the state of the union address. His, erm, underwhelmed response struck a global chord
Joshua Trump, an 11-year-old who was bullied because of his surname, was among the guests at the annual state of the union address to Congress on Tuesday night.
The schoolboy, who had to drop out of school because of the abuse and told his mother he had lost the will to live, was invited to the speech by first lady Melania Trump.
Sitting two seats along from the first lady, Joshua won fans on social media after he was spotted asleep during the speech.
“Joshua Trump rules,” one user commented as pictures of the boy spread.
But achieving national fame was never the goal for the sixth-grader from Wilmington, Delaware – who, like many his age – just wanted to fit in.
“I’m tired of the bullying,” the schoolboy told news site Inside Edition in December.
“They say are you related to Donald Trump? And I say: ‘Would I be here if I’m related to him?’”
The constant mockery became so bad that his parents eventually pulled him out of school in 2017 and taught him at home for a year, before re-enrolling him when he was due to start middle school.
But the issues he was facing did not go away.
His mother Megan Trump tried to sign him up for a different school bus to avoid certain pupils responsible for the constant teasing, but on the very first trip the driver asked him about his name.
“He said he hates himself and he hates his last name and he feels sad all the time and he doesn’t want to live feeling like that any more. And as a parent, that’s scary,” his mother told a local television news station.
His school instructed his teachers not to use his surname any more and disciplined five pupils, who apologised to the boy.
“It went to the point where he and the school were going to change his last name,” and instead go by “Berto” – his father’s surname – Claudio Cerullo, the founder of the site TeachAntiBullying.org, said. “But we encouraged him not to do that.”
His organisation awarded Joshua a national antibullying medal for courage late last year, which prompted the White House to reach out last month to invite him to the annual presidential speech.
Melania Trump has made her antibullying campaign the centrepiece of her legacy as first lady, although there have been few concrete steps aside from public appearances and roundtable discussions.
“I hope that it brings greater awareness to this issue because it’s not just about Joshua Trump,” said Cerullo.
“There’s many, many other children who are victimised in the United States and around the world.”
But he acknowledged the move put the first lady in an awkward spot, since her husband was frequently slammed for his denigrating public attacks on political foes, critics and the media, and often resorts to petty name-calling.
“The first lady is in a very difficult position,” Cerullo said. “I’m hopeful that she’s very impactful upon on her husband.”
– © The Daily Telegraph