Bullying - as a parent, this one little word packs a lot of punch whether your child is on either side of the bullying spectrum.
If your child is accused of being a bully, a parent's first reaction is to come to their child's defence, figure out the facts and then determine a course of action.
If your child is the one being bullied, a parent's reaction is similar, however the emotions that come along with this realization are complex, confusing and accompanied by many other questions.
Why? What? Who?
And last but not least, is this my fault?
As a parent, I have yet to experience either of these scenarios, however as a child and a teenager I have to admit I was on both side of the spectrum.
In my younger years I was blessed with two giant front teeth that were accompanied by an overbite, making me an easy target for ridicule and name calling.
Although I was called many different names over the course of many years, it wasn't until a nasty phone call made its way onto our family's answering machine, for my parents to hear, that those words truly hurt my soul.
Until then I was pretty good at letting the cruel names and hurtful jokes not break through the hard shell I had created. In fact I was pretty good at making the odd joke about myself as well.
However, due to the fact that I knew my problem was not just an easy fix, would cost my parents quite a bit of money and was too proud to admit that my teeth truly bothered me, I was willing to face my peers day after day and take whatever they had to dish out.
The difference then was that when I got home at the end of the day, I was free of all the pain, I was free of all the names and I was in a safe place with people who loved me - until that phone call.
As a child, my goal was to protect my parents from my truth and now I see as a parent I can only hope my children come to me with the truth.
In the end, that message was a blessing in disguise because it opened the door for a conversation I was too afraid to initiate and resulted in the outcome I had always hoped for.
Today children don't have the ability to go home, close their doors and shut out the outside world because the outside world has a direct line to each and every one of us 24 hours a day.
When someone wanted to hurt me, they had to do it to my face, see the pain they caused and live with the consequences if I chose to tell.
Today a bully can hide behind a message board, remain anonymous and attack at any given moment.
As a parent this is a scary thought.
If my son or daughter fall and scrape their knee, I run to them, pick them up and kiss it better because I can't stand to see their pain.
If my son pulls my daughter's hair, I discipline him and comfort her to teach a lesson and again ease her pain.
Physical pain is the easy one to fix - emotions are a whole other playground.
A child's self-esteem is a fragile gift that needs to be protected, nurtured and built up and the sad fact is that although, as a parent, you do your best to build it up each and every day, one small attack from a peer and it could all come crumbling down.
The term "kids are mean," is one we as a society throw out into the world as an excuse for children's behaviour, however we should not be making excuses, we should be finding solutions.
Children need to know there are consequences for their actions and perhaps we as a society need to define those consequences more clearly.
A slap on the wrist for one child could mean the end of another child's life.
This is an example of the extreme, but we seem to be seeing this extreme become reality far too often.
For now I can only hope my child is not the cause of another person's pain and that another person is not the cause of my child's pain.
However, I don't know what the future holds.
What I do know is that in our home there will be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and it will be taken very seriously.
In high school I was not necessarily a bully, but I was also not one to stand up against bullying, which in my eyes is equally as bad.
I hope through my mistakes I can teach my children to not do as a I did, but be better and do what I wish I would have done.
I have no answers as to how we can end bullying because that comes down to individuals.
Unfortunately with the advances made in technology the face of the bully has changed.
No longer the biggest kid in the class, or the most popular student in the school, a bully could be the quiet kid in the back, the girl you never met or your best friend. A faceless bully is a scary thought, however what's scarier than a bully? The person who stands up and says "that's enough."
Lyndsay McCready can be reached at 306-691-1263 or follow her on Twitter @Newsielou.