There has been a lot of talk about bullying over the past few years and, at first, I thought "Get over it. Everybody gets bullied at one time or another." You might think that's a bit callous, but I come from a long history of being bullied.

Thanks to one other kid, I was not the shortest kid in school, but I got bullied a lot for my lack of height. A silly thing to pick on, but kids will pick on other kids about anything. At first, it bothered me a great deal, so I went to my mom and she said, "Look them straight in the eye and tell them that dynamite comes in small packages."

I tried my mom's advice the next day and, while the line was not a great hit, it did defuse the situation a bit. It was then that I got the idea of making the other person laugh. My mom taught me to let it roll with the situation and I decided that, if I could make a person laugh, I had them. I was right. I found that I could talk myself out of just about any situation if I approached it with a sense of humor.

From what I've read lately, bullies are much worse than they were when I was a kid. Bullies try to take your self respect and your dignity. They act like that because they are cowards. Of all the guys that bullied me back then, none of them was even close to my size. They all were much larger than me. They never picked on anyone who could fire back at them.

The thing about bullying is not just the insults. Bullies want to physically intimidate you, as well. The implied threat is, "I can beat you up." The threat is invariably issued by someone who is twice the size of the intended victim. I can't say that I always talked my way out of things. There were a few punches thrown from time to time, but it was a half-hearted kind of fighting. A guy who was too small to successfully fend off some bully, and a bully who is afraid to pick on someone their own size.

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is getting involved in the bullying problem with a free program called "Be a Buddy, not a Bully." The program will be Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon at Wildcat Stadium, located at 2101 1st Avenue. Learn about bullying and how to avoid being a victim. You don't have to put up with it, and you're not alone. Remember that bullies are cowards; If you show the least bit of strength in return, you'll be left alone.

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