A friend of mine vented her frustration about some recent bullying news and asked me what my thoughts were. I gave some consideration to my answer and think it is worth posting here...
Think of how many variables affect child behavior. The number is effectively infinite. I'm no expert, not even a veteran teacher, but in my experience so far I've learned that the best way to prevent bad behavior from recurring is to respond immediately and sternly. The absolute best antidote to bullying is to help a perpetrator discover, ethically, why doing harm to others is bad. I do not think that this can be done through inflicting physical pain, because even though it seems logical to think that it will teach them about the harm they've done to others, it instead further entrenches the idea that certain people are bigger and better than others. They [usually] will only try harder.
I caution everyone to be careful where they direct their anger or place their blame. Some schools do a great job. Some, like the one in that article that even botched their record-keeping, do a terrible job. Ultimately, our entire culture needs to break habits that encourage bullying, which can only be done by deeply implanting ethics of equality.
So if you are a reader of the news or our blogs that really wants to make a difference and try to prevent bullying in the future, the best thing you can do is act according to reasoned ethics. Ask yourself why it's bad to hurt others for personal gain (with bullying, this gain is either attention, power, or a misguided sense of confidence), and come up with an answer. If you are ever presented with the opportunity to help convince someone else that they've done something wrong, you will have an answer in your head. This answer, I think, will be based on equality of people, their feelings, their rights, et cetera, so the next thing to do is always treat people as equals to you. Yes, this is my derivation of the golden rule. Make it happen, and you will play a part in changing our culture to stop rewarding excessively selfish attention- or power-seeking behavior.