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Obamas promote bullying prevention meeting

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have posted a video on Facebook to promote a bullying prevention conference they will host at the White House.

In a taped video message, the president says that bullying should no longer be treated as an unavoidable part of growing up. He says schools and communities must be safe places where children can thrive.

"This isn't an issue that makes headlines every day, but it affects every single young person in our country," Obama says in the video.

Today'sconference will bring together parents, students and educators to discuss ways to stop bullying.

As the parents of two daughters, the Obamas have said this is a personal issue for them.

"It's something we care about not only as president and first lady but also as parents," Michelle Obama says in the video.

The president also taped an anti-bullying message last year for the "It Gets Better" campaign after a string of bullying-related suicides by young people.

The conference will bring parents, teachers and experts to the executive mansion for a series of talks and seminars on how to stop bullying and help victims survive it.

Critics say it's a poor use of the president's time and energy at a time of pressing, even urgent, needs elsewhere. They question whether the federal government even needs to get involved.

But Obama believes he can turn a problem that troubles many localities into a national priority. Some parents of children who have killed themselves agree; they want Congress to enact a national law ordering schools to adopt anti-bullying policies.

Sirdeaner Walker, whose 11-year-old son killed himself two years ago after enduring anti-gay slurs at a school in Massachusetts, said she welcomed Obama's high-profile involvement.

"It's important for the president to weigh in on this because this is a national health crisis facing our children," said Walker, who will attend the White House conference.

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