Bullies just need to learn empathy - motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs

US preacher and motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs should've been one of the people it is now his life mission to help.

The 53-year-old was conceived during an act of prostitution, with his biological father having offered his mother money for sex after noticing she was impoverished. Dabbs' mother was living in a chicken coop because of her poverty, and had to give him up to the foster care system once he was born.

However she was able to give him up to her former school teacher - and after a few years under her care, Dabbs was adopted by her and her husband. He credits them with teaching him the crucial lesson that he gives all the children he speaks to - you can't change your past, but you can change your future.

"That [story] is how I start my assembly programmes, because everybody has a story. Everybody has something that makes them want to rob a dairy. But do we do that? No," he told the AM Show.

"So we have to let kids know, here's where I am, here's where I'm from - but you don't have to go down that road. You're either the villain or the hero - you get to decide which one you want to be."

While Dabbs has received plenty of praise for his speaking engagements, he's also attracted his fair share of detractors who say his Christian faith comes out too strongly.

"Who I am is who I am. Just because I have faith doesn't mean I can't love," he said. "I'm not hatin'. I would never abuse a school's privilege."

Dabbs says the main message he's trying to spread is one of self-love, making the right choices and anti-bullying. He says communicating the latter comes down to ensuring those listening are conscious of what they're saying on social media.

"It's horrific because of social media. It's one thing to tell somebody something to their face, but it's another to get behind a screen and press send and spread stories," he said.

"It just blows up and can make a kid literally want to end their own life. We have to come with hope and love."

Dabbs says the key to countering bullying is to side with the victim, and create a culture that protects those who are suffering at the hands of their tormenters.

"Kids have got to decide that when I see a kid getting bullied, I'll grab a couple of my friends and we'll go to the kid being picked on and say 'Hey, come hang with us, it's not gonna happen anymore'," he said.

"All a bully needs is one word: empathy. They need to learn to walk in someone else's shoes for a second, to see how someone else lives - and they realise, I can be someone's hero.

"Literally just a kind word, helping someone, letting them sit by you in the cafeteria, can change someone's life. We gotta choose to do that."