After mulling it over, doing some research and talking with others, I have a few basic steps that our family can commit to in order to face all aspects of bullying head-on.
Tattling is a thing of the past. Tell an adult, tell an adult, tell an adult. Tell an adult again. Tell an adult if you are feeling powerless, tell an adult if you witness someone being pushed into a corner, tell an adult if you hear of plans to attack, ridicule or cyber-attack someone. Tell, tell, tell. It is the adults' job to sift through the many reports and act.
Adults are responsible for fixing this. Thus far, we've been handing the reins over to children as a way to build independence. News flash, it ain't workin'. Adults should be placed in all places that bullying is common. Kids should never again be in a locker room without an adult supervisor. Playground monitors should be two feet away from the swings ... listening, noticing, intervening. Not chatting with other teachers across the yard. Bus drivers are responsible for driving. Each bus needs another adult whose sole responsibility is to monitor behavior.
Kids cannot expect privacy in their cyber world. Sorry, not gonna happen. Parents should have free and clear access to all texts, all email, all facebook entries. When you are 20 (or thereabouts), you have a right to expect some space. Not before.
The bullied must never, ever be punished! From what I gather, the kids who are made to suffer can actually be made to suffer more after intervention. Perhaps they have been forced to strike out and they are part of the suspension. Maybe they are moved to another class, losing their only friends or into a room with even bigger bullies. The bullied must be consulted when handing out punishments and the bullied must be listened to.
Words and acts of respect are expected at all times. In our home, there is zero tolerance for name-calling and ridiculing. We will combat bullying with love, kindness, tolerance, acceptance, honor, appreciation - open minds and open hearts. These things can be taught.