Almost everyone has had to deal with a bully in their lifetime. I remember some in school and their comments still hurt after all these years. As a parent, I always wanted to protect my four children, but the one place I could not was when they were at school.

Life for my son, Jason, was difficult to say the least. His father was a drug addict who panhandled to pay for his habit in the small town we lived in at the time. Jason was in junior high at the time. Not only was he having to deal with being 6 foot tall and towering over his classmates, but he was also taunted for his father’s actions. Going to school was a struggle for him and  it was only getting worse since the bullies had figured out he was a walking target and they knew how to get to him. I went to the school and talked to the principal and told him I wanted it to stop. He said the school was doing all they could. Over the next few weeks, my son grew increasingly despondent. He often came home and I could tell he had been crying as he silently walked to his room with his head down.

I knew I had to do something so I went to talk to the teacher where Jason had the most problems. I arrived at the gym and met with the physical education teacher. When I told him about the reports of the other boys hitting and saying horrible things to my son, the teacher laughed and replied, “Boys will be boys.” I told him that he needed to do something but he told me not to tell him how to do his job. Somebody had to say something and this time it was me.

At that moment, I knew nothing would change. I left with tears in my eyes, not knowing what to do next.

We ended up moving to a new school, but bullies are everywhere. Life got worse when Jason starting cutting on his arms. He said he didn’t know why he did it, just that he was stressed out.

Fortunately, my story doesn’t end with him committing suicide to escape the bullies. Recently, in Oklahoma, a 13-year-old boy couldn’t take the bullying anymore and he went to school one day with a gun. He sadly showed them — he shot himself at the school and died.

My son ended up quitting school and getting his GED. By the age of 17, he was taking college classes. I am not recommending quitting school, but at the time it was the only option.

Although, he has moved on, the bullying still haunts him. But, Jason will always be a first rate version of himself instead of a second rate version of somebody else. So, he makes me proud to call him my son.

I understand where he is coming from. The difference between us is that my father also bullied me. His favorite line was “if you had a brain, you would be dangerous.” Definitely a lose, lose situation.

As a result, I have dealt with a lifetime of insecurities and doubts about myself. Adults should know better. But, I assure you, they don’t. Bullies are not only at schools or at home, but at the work place, on the roadways and every place else.

But, what doesn’t kill us, can only make us stronger. The best thing to do is to decide not to be a victim anymore.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said,” No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

How to handle a bully varies because bullies bring their bullying behavior with them wherever they go. Bullies come in every shape, size, gender, creed, color and ideology. Bullying behavior has several different faces.

There are two categories such as physical and emotional bullying. The physical bully poses an immediate, obvious threat. The emotional bully operates on a more subtle, subconscious level. Both kinds of bullying are dangerous, but the emotional bullying is harder to detect.

Contrary to some popular theories, the problem of bullying is complicated. There is no magic 1-2-3 solution. Bullying occurs for several reasons. No person is exactly the same and no bully is either. Bullies are typically emotional weaklings. Your emotional and physical health are most important. Be confident in yourself.

Most of all parents who are bullying their children, just stop.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength,” writes Maya Angelou.