Nick Gillespie's fine piece
and Helen's comments on it
One has to wonder about how much of the concern about the perceived bullying "epidemic" was initially driven by a litigation-happy society; to defend proactively against being sued for "intentional infliction of emotional distress," I suspect that schools took up the cause of "raising awareness." It's sort of like the sexual harassment training now on many work sites; in some instances, it may be necessary, but often it's just cringe-inducing and aimed almost solely at being held up as proof at a potential trial that no hostile work environment existed.
Couple the schools' strategy of "awareness raising" as proactive tort defense with this generation's tribe of "helicopter parents" (ready to panic at any potential adversity confronting their children) and here we are. I can't really get on board with everything "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua has advocated, but there was one insight she shared (somewhere) that really made sense to me: Asian parents assume their parents are strong, while Western parents assume their children are weak. I'm not sure we're doing American children any favors by making this assumption.
FInally, in one sense, it's actually kind of impressive that the supposed school bullying "epidemic" isn't worse than it is. Given that school discipline in general -- from dress to deportment -- has eroded over the last few decades, and invocation of transcendent values (or any kind of values, except in the most anodyne, politically correct terms possible) is almost completely prohibited, what exactly would anyone expect? Certainly not the Garden of Eden, or even the peaceable kingdom.