One of the reasons I wanted to go away to college was to get away from people who intimidated others through violence---i.e., bullies. The last "bad" incident had been my junior year of high school, when I was slammed into a locker by two brothers who were jocks. They therefore were immune from most disciplinary measures the school could have taken, since most of the people in the high school responsible for discipline were coaches. Most, if not all, of the bullies I had encountered along the way did not do much with their lives. A couple of them at least ended up in the Department of Correction, and not as guards. I take no joy in that assessment. Various studies indicate that "bullies" usually come from backgrounds in which they have been abused.
As "real" as the bullying seemed to me, there were kids who had it worse. A couple of them transferred out of school. At least one committed suicide.
Today, kids have the internet. Suddenly, the environment in which bullies can reign has expanded in space---they now can come right into the home and not be kept out a doors and locks---and time---school ends at 3:25? They can be on-line in the middle of the night. The cruelty is quantitatively different. Perhaps it is qualitatively different as well. On-line photo-shopped images with accompanying slurs distributed to several hundred of one's fellow students probably have greater impact than two brothers who slam a kid into a locker.
This Saturday we will discuss the problem of on-line bullying and student violence. More details tomorrow.