This has been running through my mind, also. Cruelty breeds negative reactions. The old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," is false. The age old advice, "Just ignore them," only results in further outcasting towards the victim. Today's perfectionist culture demeans anyone who differs from the crowd, and when a person is shoved out of the safe enclosure of social acceptance, s/he searches for survival. In the meantime, those who are enclosed within the safety of the group are under constant fear and even surveillance by the rest of the group. "Did you know what Sam did, yesterday?" is whispered among the group when Sam isn't present, and no one wants to be the next topic of conversation. I even wonder if feigned friendliness is more detrimental than outright bullying. I see this all the time among adults--real polite when the person is within earshot, but out of earshot and it's another story. But concerning the kids who become outcasts, this didn't happen overnight. There are kids who are shunned, kids who are picked on, and this just eats away at the victim like a cancer. But just as a tumor is cured by antibodies fighting against it, there is healing power in a peer giving a friendly smile. In cancer, the tumor must be diminished early, and the same is true with cancerous bullying. But just one person can stand up against the peer pressure and befriend, not just be polite, not just tolerate, but truly befriend the suffering student, this can put the cancer into remission. A few days ago, I was recalling 10th grade. There was a girl who for religious reasons always wore plain ankle-length skirts. She always ate lunch by herself. I recall my friend at lunch laughing about her difference in appearance. I was thinking, what if I had walked over and asked to sit with her and become friends? So what if her religious beliefs differed. This is the mindset we need to teach kids today! Why outcast anybody? We need each other, and how much more enriched our lives are when we accept each other for who we are. Each person has something special to contribute to the group, and how much are we missing when someone isn't allowed to contribute?