One of the things I didn't like about teaching was watching sweet, sensitive, smart kids crying because somebody was being mean to them. I don't intend to imply that all smart kids are sensitive and bullies aren't smart. I just found myself watching and many times the bullies weren't the smartest ones.
And it wasn't always boys who were the bullies. One year the slowest girl intellectually was trying to get all the rest of the girls to ostracize another little girl who had an unfortunate home life. The one being picked on was hard-working and nice.
I know school is a place where kids have to be. But to allow one child to try to isolate another child was wrong. So I kept the girls in and asked the other girls how it made them feel to have this one girl tell them what to do. The other girls were hesitant to say anything but one said that it made her unhappy because nobody was supposed to tell her what to do. I didn't think it would make as big an impression if I just said it was wrong.
If that were the only instance, it wouldn't have been such a pain to me.
As adults, we don't have to go anywhere except work. We can choose who we associate with. If I can't find somebody who likes and respects me, I'm OK with being alone.
Kids don't really have that option.
Organizations are sometimes places where adult bullies have freedom to oppress others. Churches, clubs, committees, all have hierarchies within them. If narrow-minded people run those places, tolerant people have to disassociate themselves from them. Find a place where your efforts are welcome.
When the bullying is physical, my discussion with the students was to quietly go stand beside the person. That would let the bully know the person wasn't alone. They didn't have to say anything. Sometimes there would be a long line of people standing. This was better because "taking up for the person" sometimes got everybody in trouble.
The children who were picked on as children...I like to picture them deciding not to let others determine their self worth. The loudest person isn't always the one who is right.