President and first lady Obama hosted a conference on preventing bullying at the White House Thursday. The event is part of an effort to highlight a problem that affects millions of children every year.
"If there's one goal, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage," the president said.
The administration invited the more than 150 students and teachers in attendance to talk about their experiences with bullying as well as some of the best ways to stop it.
"As adults, we can lose sight of how hard it can be sometimes to be a kid," Obama said. "It's easy for us to forget what it's like to be teased or bullied, but it's also easy to forget the natural compassion and the sense of decency that our children display each and every day when they're given a chance."
Obama confessed that he also had been a target of bullying when he was a child.
"As adults, we all remember what it was like to see kids picked on in the hallways or in the schoolyard," he said. "And I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn't immune. I didn't emerge unscathed."
The day-long conference will examine bullying on college campuses as well as at elementary and secondary schools. It will also focus on Internet bullying.
The White House has set up stopbulling.gov and a Facebook page to promote the campaign.