As long as there have been humans, there have been bullies. It just seems wherever there are people, there are lousy people. And I can remember plenty of bullies back in my school days. However...
I can't recall anybody ever being bullied to the point of suicide, or retaliation a la Columbine. Are bullies worse now, or is the news hyping it more? Both, neither... does it matter? Kids are being bullied to the point of ending their lives. I'm guessing a big part of this is technology. When I was a kid, if a bully had it out for me (it did happen a few times), she/he (usually a she) really could only get to me at school, and maybe on the school bus. Once I stepped off the bus and headed home, I was safe from her. She'd never have dared phone my house and take the chance an adult would get her call.
But now... my heart goes out to victims of bullies. They can go home, but they'll still get phoned, texted, IM'd, emailed, Facebooked, Myspaced... not to mention all the little things here and there they can hear back from everybody else, that the bully spread around during the evening. It's a neverending stream of torment for those poor kids. So what the heck can we do about it?
I know our local schools truly try to stop bullying, especially by electronic means. I feel fortunate, because our little area seems to not have quite the problem some parts of the country has right now. In my school years, I tended to befriend some of those kids who were picked on most, and my daughter has a soft spot for one picked-on boy in her class, who she's not afraid to defend. All you can do is hope that'll help defray the teasing, but not get it aimed at her. Kids can be so mean--but it helps for them to all know they can and should go to an adult and report that awfulness. For my part, when I'm in a classroom and see kids being rotten to another, I really let them have it. Sure, it's only one day, but hey, at least they know if an adult notices what they are doing, it's not going to go unpunished.
Maybe the media will help in this situation. Awareness is spreading, so I really hope.