Obama: 'I wasn't immune' to being bullied as a child
March 10th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Obama: 'I wasn't immune' to being bullied as a child

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama took on the issue of bullying in the first ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention Thursday.

"We all have a lot of work to do in this country on this issue," Mrs. Obama said in remarks to educators, parents, students, politicos and businesses leaders.

So how does the White House define bullying?

According to StopBullying.gov, a website announced today by the administration, "Bullying can happen anywhere: face-to-face, by text messages or on the web. It is not limited by age, gender, or education level.  It is not a phase and it is not a joke. Bullying can cause lasting harm."

The president cited a statistic that one third of all middle and high school students in the nation have reported being bullied over the course of the school year. Personalizing the statistic, he then admitted even he was bullied as a youngster.

"As adults, we all remember what it was like to see kids picked on in the hallways or in the schoolyard," Obama said. "And I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune. I didn’t emerge unscathed."

While he didn't disclose his own experience had any "lasting harm," the president did state that that the goal of the conference was "to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up."

"It’s not," he stressed.


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soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Immanuel Bisrat

    I hope this reaches the right person “I’m Sorry” or stop 1 from making my horrible mistake. It was the late 70’s Hastings Michigan in 1st grade I walked into a situation I could/should have helped stop, instead I watched a horrible act go sadistic. I heard crying from an alley; 2 classmates of mine laughed at a kindergartner, finding glee in his fear-mental/physical abuse as he pled for help/to go home.
    Seeing me they said “Do you want to have fun check this out.” The pleading boy looked at me w/hope eyes full of tears “I just want to go home, please help me”. I should-could’ve screamed/ran for help/started a fight, instead I just watched. I knew him, his sister, was in my class, doing nothing I saw his spirit disappear, they released him after more mental/physical abuse.
    I was/am wrong. I admitted my guilt my mom contacted his mother to apologize. Where his mom replied “YOUR SON WAS NOT INVOLVED” Everybody but me was immediately arrested. As horrible as I was doing nothing for him- he was there for me. I often wonder how he/family are. It haunts me no matter how bad I feel- I’m not a victim, he was/is, if I could trade shoes w/him I would/will. I pray for his well being to this day, I accept full responsibility. I walked into this doing nothing letting bullying go sadistic. Don’t standby and watch; stand and protect. Bystanders make the difference between giving bullied victims hope or mental anguish; give hope/get help stop forcing mental anguish upon victim(s). I don’t deserve nor ask forgiveness. I just want to say this is long over due I’m sorry/thanks for being the hero I could-have-should have been for you.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • ObamaSux1

      1970's, 1st grade everyone was arrested, very nice story, I bet you could write a million of them. To have more impact try to make them more believable

      March 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Queen Elizabeth II

      Yes, and I once met the Easter Bunny, grow up people, this is the net. Any one can claim anything any time. If this person truly wants to apologize why are they wasting time posting anonymously on this news blog? Grow up, stop being so melodramatic and drop the /. One thing for certain it makes you look uncertain. There, now I am done, I must go and rotate my polo-ponies and practice my parade wave.

      March 12, 2011 at 11:14 am |
      • f

        I love your paraqdce wave !!!

        March 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      FORGIVE YOURSELF, VOLUNTEER TO A GROUP THAT ADVANCES HELPING THOSE IN NEED BY CALLING THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY, HESITATING IS NATURAL FOR BULLIES USUALLY CARRY KNIVES OR GUNS. OR YOU COULD HIDE AND MAKE NOISES THAT DISTRACT THE BULLIES, WHAT ABOUT CARRY A POLICE-LIKE ALARM?

      March 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  2. JeeJee

    Besides children, bullying still exists among adults. We watch it every day in politics. It makes me understand why children become bullies, watching how some adults behave.

    March 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • f

      That's because people don't really ever change. Once they are what they are, that's it. I recently went to my 30th HS reunion for proof.

      March 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      NOT REALLY. RATHER IT DEPENDS ON WHAT KIND OF SCHOOL YOU ATTEND AS A CHILD. ONCE, SONIA MURPHY, A CLASSMATE WHO WAS HALF ANGLO SAXON EMBARRASED A STUDENT OF LATIN ORIGIN ABOUT NON-PAYMENT OF A FEW CENTS. THE POOR STUDENT BEGAN TO CRY. I WAS STUDYING AND DID NOT NOTICE UNTIL SHE WAS IN TEARS, SO I TOLD SONIA MURPHY: "LEAVE HER ALONE, STOP IT." THE VICTIM WALKED OUT OF THE CLASSROOM. BUT NEXT DAY, THE SAME HAPPENED. I HAD TOLD MY MOTHER ABOUT IT. MOTHER WAS VERY SORRY AND GAVE ME ENOUGH MONEY. THAT ENABLED ME TO SAY THIS TIME TO SONIA: LOOK, I WILL PAY YOU THE MONEY IF YOU LEAVE HER IN PEACE. SONIA ACCEPTED. I WAS RELIEVED FOR THE HARRASSING DID NOT LET ME CONCENTRATE :)
      I REALIZE NOW I HAD MY OWN REASONS TO STOP THE BULLYING. BELITTLING COMMENTS FROM A BOY OF ANOTHER CAN BECOME DEADLY BULLETS WHEN THE HARRASSER WORKS FOR A GANG :( IT IS A GREAT FAVOR TO SOCIETY TO STOP CHILDREN'S BULLYING ON TIME.

      March 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Liz Carter in Georgia

    This is a one of the most beautiful testimonies of honesty, guilt, remorse, surrender, confession, humility, compassion, repentance, even empathy, and I'm sure there's going to be a sweet release, as well as forgiveness forth-coming. Thank you for your story.

    March 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Sfai

    Immanuel Bisrat just brought what was happening in Libya to my mind as I was reading him; I am seeing the current leaders of the world – not just Obama who himself wether he knows it or not is being bulied now – feeling remorse for not taking a quick stand about what Gadhafi and his family are doing to their people.

    March 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  5. minnabrams

    I'll never understand why anyone can be mean....to anyone..it is not my nature...I love people for the kindness they show t o others. I am a mixed american of native american, Irish, with a lot of other mixes. If you family have been in this country as long as my family has, ten to one you are a mixture.....I call it Hines 57

    March 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  6. minnabrams

    cont: I am a white women so many people think? I never met a man or women of color I didn't like. I can say that when I was in need it was a black person who came to my aid and helped me... think god! because it they hadn't i would had suffered from hunger ..... god bless .....them who care and help those in need...Obama

    March 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  7. minnabrams

    I pray for those you do not know the kindness and love that Obama knows.....and show to his family ......It is he that is a great man who is kind and loving.....and god bless his mother who gave birth to him.....as she must be an Angel....

    March 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  8. ED

    We are being striped of our workes right by gop dictators and all Obama does is talk about bullying, time for a new president

    March 12, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    People do change! We are forever changing; either for the better or for the worse. Nobody stays the same, it's not natural! I agree with you JeeJee! Most 'bullies' in politics, I believe have finally found a platform on which they CAN push out their aggressions on each other, this PRESIDENT, and of course, the AMERICAN people, when they weren't much more than what many have referred to as 'geeks' when they were in school. They were on the backside of 'bullying'! So now it's payback time! @f; They CHANGED!

    March 12, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  10. Liz Carter in Georgia

    That's strange! You may have to go further than your 30th class-reunion to look for people who have changed, because I've gone to at least 6 of 8 class-reunions; every five years, and our 45th one is this spring. At every one of them, I found that people had changed in their demeanors, and at the least physically! If they were bullies in school, they were very socialble and interactable! Now our 'class clowns' were a little bit more mature 'reunion clowns', but that was good! Most people do change!

    March 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  11. Tschrny Wolf

    PRESIDENT OBAMA IS DOING US A GREAT FAVOR AND A MUCH-NEEDED POLICY TO ELIMINATE THE BASIS OF ADULT CRIME AND DRUG-DEALING PLUS CAMPUS RAPE. BULLYING IS NOT AN INOFFENSIVE CHILDISH ACTIVITY. RATHER IT IS AN INDICATOR OF FUTURE MENTAL CRIMINALITY.

    March 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Otto Stubber

      Its not working too good along the U.S. Mexican boarder...

      But none of the past Presidents did anything either...

      March 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  12. HijabGalore

    Be a Buddy and not Bully .
    http://www.hijabgalore.com

    March 13, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  13. Sandy

    I remembered when I was teased by some jerk named DJ M. It was not fun. Then I went to my native land and saw that my classmates were been picked on by seniors. When they became seniors they became the bullies! The only way to stop bullying is to stop the cycle. Or else the lineage of ullying will continue.

    March 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Otto Stubber

    Why is oBoMa is trying too Bully Gaudafi? He is only trying to keep control of his country.
    oBaMa would do the samething if he was the ruler of Lybia. Unless he is a Pussy....

    March 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  15. qazqazqaz

    This is actually a story? Really?

    Something everyone goes through is somehow worthy of noting the president went through? How about Senior Prom – are you going to write a story about how the President had a Senior Prom? Or acne?

    WTF is wrong with CNN today??????

    March 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  16. manny

    True ,salute to the President's comments about bullying the children , Please remind our President about the illegal children's feeling , getting bullied by the people can't complaint to anyone

    March 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  17. Harry Pelosi

    He must have taken some good notes. He seems to know how to bully very well!

    March 14, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  18. Bill

    Really?? This is the urgent problem of our time? With mountain of debt, high unemployment, a middle east in crisis, and now a friend (Japan) in desperate need after a crisis, he's worrying about bullying? Talk about misplaced priority! Don't get me wrong, I don't promote bullying acts and certainly something need to be done, but how about leaving that to the schools and teachers to handle? Yes...Yes, he has big ears and an unusal name, but really? I think that applies to the thousands of other kids out there. Man, if this is what we elect the US President to do, we are all screwed.

    March 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Sarah

      I think trying to prevent child abuse is an important issue at any time.

      March 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  19. Allencairns

    Too bad President Obama never took his own advice when it came to the shameful display of unions horrendous bullying of the Hon. Governor Walker and the populous (young and old) of Wisconsin, to completely shut down schools, municipality and public works for a "freedom rally" for THREE WEEKS? Absolutely shameful.

    March 16, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  20. Allencairns

    It is about time to "Make that Change" President Obama. Too many people are hurt through public union rhetoric/appeasement.

    March 16, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  21. Allencairns

    Bullying continues to happen, as long as it is ignored. President Obama pointed out; could be preschool, middle school, high school, or even today, when you are trying your hardest to raise a responsible caring family.
    Bullying is not always an individual "target", it can and does portray itself in a mindset – allegiance to any religious/union affiliation.
    Too bad President Obama never took his own advice when it came to the shameful display of unions horrendous bullying of the Hon. Governor Walker and the populous (young and old) of Wisconsin, to completely shut down schools, municipality and public works for a "freedom rally" for THREE WEEKS? Absolutely shameful.
    It is about time to "Make that Change" President Obama. Too many people are hurt through public union rhetoric/appeasement.

    March 16, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  22. Allencairns

    There is a time when you have to ask yourself: Am a part of the solution? or; Am I part of the problem?
    President Obama, I was under the impression that you were the solution, not part of, but the solution. Please, be that for us. Be the solution. We need you Mr. Obama, president.

    March 16, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  23. memas

    We need to stand up for all people who are bullied not only teens and other kids but also elders. There are elders who are being taken away from their homes for no reason even when they have all the help that they need at home.Even if they are not elder orphans (meaning that their families have abandoned them and they are not able to care of themselves at home) They are forced into these nursing home prisons and all their money is taken from them. They will not even give them any money to buy a soda at a soda machine. All their life savings is taken from them to pay for this prison like atmosphere. They are thrown into nursing care where they are forced to live in bed and wheel chairs and diapers. These are people who use the bathroom on their own and walk on their own yet they are being forced into these nursing homes so they can to live like prisoners and more than likely they will be killed by deadly drugs that under no circumstances are supposed to be given to elders. The medicine that they may need is often not given so they can be on these deadly drugs instead. Then they can be sent to the hospital to be given more deadly drugs to disable them. The more disabled the more money the home makes.We need to stand up and fight for all people who are bullied. This is happening in California and the rest of the U.S.A. and the world.

    April 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm |