The subject of bullying has come up a lot in my life lately, both from friends and my kids. In varying ways, in different forms, we have all been bullied. I truly don't believe that anyone can claim to have never in their lives been picked on, teased or ridiculed. Bullying is a universal experience. If you ask most adults, I bet they would say that they want bullying to stop. Parents and teachers for the most part would unite in one voice to say that bullying should stop. Yet still it continues...Bully Free ZoneMy parents taught me to turn the other cheek. If someone is being mean to you, just walk away. If the harassment continues, tell an adult. I think that it would be nice, though, for kids to never have to decide whether to ignore or tell. What we should be teaching our kids is to value other people. By value I don't necessarily mean accept a way of life with which they don't agree. When I say value people, I mean to not vilify those differences. The differences about people, weight, height, race, disability, are the targets of a bully's words.

I thought I had done a good job of teaching my kids to overlook differences. We watch a lot of PBS cartoons, and my husband and I tell them all the time that God created everyone to be unique. I'm ashamed to say, though, that my actions and my words don't always match up. My oldest daughter was telling me about a young lady at school who called her a name, and I immediately thought of what name I could call the offender. I didn't want to accept her differences. This girl hurt my child, so I wanted her to hurt. I didn't think about the fact that she also is someone's child. I wanted to win. I wanted her to hurt worse.

Unfortunately in bullying no one wins. No one ends up coming out ahead when you're putting another person down. Calling that other girl a name when my daughter came to me for advice was not the best example of how to solve the problem of bullying. I didn't tell my daughter to call her a name, but I did. Not a great example.

We all know that there are so many more ways for kids to be bullied now with social networking, but the bullying tide can be kept at bay by teaching kids the Golden Rule and then by living it. As much as it hurts to bite your tongue at the man who cuts you off in traffic, or the lady at the grocery store with the overflowing cart and two preschoolers who are making noise, keep biting. When your kids overhear you saying nothing, that's the best example they could possibly have.

As a side note, we also need to add a footnote to our bullying education for our kids. Please tell your children if they see someone being picked on, or worse physically harmed, to tell an adult. Stopping the harassment may not be the popular thing to do, but it's the right thing. Standing idly by while someone else is harmed may be worse than throwing the punch or hurling the insult. When I think about the times I could have stopped someone from being bullied, I feel ashamed. Some hurts do not go away, so we have to teach our children to keep them from happening in the first place.