While I am not a bullying expert, I have conducted an overview of the literature around bullying. Much of the research is not very encouraging. Some researchers believe that many bullying programs rely on the faulty belief that bystanders or witnesses will report bullying when they see it. If this were true, we wouldn't need a bullying program because bystanders would already be reporting bullying events, and they clearly are not.
While Phoebe's school could not make the "mean girls" decent, kind or tolerant, they might have been able to simply stop the bullying. There have always been elements in every society and setting that had to be guarded against or stopped. If you are a bully our responsibility is to help you to change, if possible. We also have a responsibility to protect your victims by stopping you. The cost of implementing comprehensive bullying programs will be high; the cost of doing little or nothing is unthinkable. Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org