President Obama said at a White House bullying-prevention conference Thursday that he was picked on as a child.

Obama told participants that growing up, bullies often keyed in on his big ears and unorthodox name.

"As adults, we all remember what it was like to see kids picked on in the hallways or in the schoolyard. And I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn't immune," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

But the president reminded the audience of parents, teachers, students and community leaders that bullying can have serious consequences.

"I didn't emerge unscathed. But because it's something that happens a lot, and it's something that's always been around, sometimes we've turned a blind eye to the problem," he said. "We've said, 'Kids will be kids.' And so sometimes we overlook the real damage that bullying can do, especially when young people face harassment day after day, week after week."

Both the president and first lady Michelle Obama led the conference, which was paired with an online chat.