It happens at every school. Students call each other names like "fatty" and "ugly" in between classes, sneak punches or kicks on the bus and post nasty insults online: "Nobody likes you." "You're such a loser."
Bullying - a written, verbal, physical or, now, electronic, action intended to coerce, intimidate or harm another student - has been as much of a part of school as the pop quiz.
"It's always there, and it's always going to be there, to some extent," says Jim Olmstead, director of strategic partnerships for The Foundation for Character Development. The Boulder-based organization helps schools assess their bullying problems and figure out how to handle them.
What to do about bullying has become a national focus because today, instead of being something of an adolescent rite of passage that leaves a black eye or hurt feelings, kids are dying. Earlier this month, two teenage girls were arrested in Florida in a bullying-suicide case involving a 12-year-old classmate. At least a dozen or so suicides around the nation in the past few years have been attributed, in part, to bullying.