It's not as if they ever went away, but bullies are back in the news again. Again, we're reminded that, for many kids, going to school is a fearful experience.
Whether it's incessant name-calling, teasing, and verbal torment or outright violence and theft, a huge number of children will experience bullying during their school years.
Adults tend to forget the cruelty they and other children were capable of.
Homophobic slurs, sudden punches and kicks, and harassment by social media are all possible for children who aren't even out of middle school yet. The worst part of bullying isn't one single attack or incident: it's the pattern of repeated incidents, which wear down the chosen victim or victims, day after day. School can start to look a lot like prison to a child who's been bullied incessantly.
A recent Harris/Decima poll found that 50 per cent of Canadian adults felt they had been bullied as children or teenagers.
Nearly a third believed it had a lasting or harmful effect, and a huge majority of adults believe we need to do something about it.
Those who have been or are being bullied probably have a number of suggestions. Tying the bullies to anthills in the desert and leaving them there isn't really legal, however.
More practical are mentoring programs, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, which sponsored the recent poll, hopes it can convince more Canadians to join, volunteer, and provide financial support.
Making the bullied stronger seems to generally be a better avenue than trying to change bullies. There is no one solution for these children. Not every child can take self-defense courses, and there is no physical solution to ending taunts.
For the worst torments, the old saw about telling a teacher probably isn't enough. For kids being physically attacked, we recommend skipping straight to calling 911.