Obamas' crusade to stop bullying hits home for the president
As parents of two young daughters, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama know what it's like to want to protect their children and others from bullying. Mr. Obama also knows first-hand what it's like to be bullied as a child, which he says didn't leave him unscathed.
So as a victim of bullying who persevered in life, Mr. Obama, alongside Mrs. Obama called for a united effort to address bullying at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention today.
The attendees included 150 students, parents, teachers, non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers, who discussed how they can work together to make our schools and communities safe for all students.
"If there's one goal of this conference, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It's not," Mr. Obama said. "Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it's not something we have to accept. As parents and students; teachers and communities, we can take steps that will help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe."
With the ever-changing landscape of technology and social networking through Facebook and Twitter, bullying has increased - and tragically some teens have committed suicide. According to the White House, one-third of the nation's students, or 13 million children, have been bullied.
And while the Obamas appreciate advances in technology, they recognize that it can come with price. Mr. Obama reiterated this in a video that he and Mrs. Obama posted on Facebook, stressing that bullying doesn't only happen in school, but it reaches to the phone and to the computer screen. The Obamas, however, don't allow Sasha and Malia to join Facebook or Twitter.
"As parents, this issue really hits home for us. It breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, on the playground, or even online," Mrs. Obama added. "I hope that all of you - and everyone watching online - will walk away from this conference with new ideas and solutions that you can take back to your own schools and communities."
The Obamas suggest that people go to stopbullying.gov, among many other websites available online.
Mr. Obama said, "If there's one goal, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage."
He even admitted to being bullied himself as a child, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
"I have to say that with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn't immune," Mr. Obama said. "I didn't emerge unscathed."
Click on the video to hear Mr. Obama share his story about how he was bullied as a child and how it affected him.
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