It is not, I know, an original remark to say that bullying is not a modern phenomenon.
Look at Victorian novels, such as Tom Brown's Schooldays and Nicholas Nickleby to see that bullying was an integral part of Victorian school life, particularly in the public schools.
Even today, Prince Charles was bullied at Gordonstoun and John Peel was bullied at Shrewsbury School.
Why, then, is bullying still a part of school life today? I suspect that, as with domestic violence, there exists a deeply-rooted belief in the minds of many that the victims "ask for it" because of some perceived weakness in their character and that essentially they "deserve it".
Thus, a woman "deserves" to be beaten for failing to please her partner and children "deserve" to be bullied because it "toughens them up" and "teaches them to fight back".
Society has traditionally picked on certain groups to be scapegoats for the ills of society: Jews, blacks, asylum seekers, Muslims, and in our age, where children are brought up to worship " celebrity" pop-stars, supermodel and sporting stars and be obsessed with image, it was always only a matter of time before children were bullied for not having the right body shape, trainers, jeans or liking the wrong pop- star or supporting the wrong football team.
This, of course, is where the school authorities come in, or ought to. Every school is the proud possessor of a "bullying policy", all to often housed in a bulging filing cabinet, along with the policies on every other government "initiative": racism, sexism, classroom discipline, numeracy; and all the other hot potatoes that schools don't know how to deal with.
Most schools, when it comes to bullying, employ a policy of NIMBY (not in my back yard), and, fearful of getting a bad local reputation for a school where bullying thrives, hush it up by banishing the bullied and allowing the bullies to stay in school and carry on their reign of terror.
Recently, a school in Solihull advised the parents of a boy, beaten up by schoolmates outside the school gates, to inform the police, thus washing their hands of the affair.
The bullies were not expelled and when the parents, fearing for their son's safety, kept him away from school. An LEA spokesman had the gall to tell them that the LEA "strongly discourages parents to withdraw their child from education, as this clearly is not in the best interests of the child", while being beaten senseless presumably is.
I have known children to be thrown down the stairs at the railway station on the way home, children driven by bullying to lie on the railway line or in the street, hoping to be run over and on no occasion have the bullies been taken out of school.
It is always the bullied who are advised to move school. Lily-livered school authorities would prefer to lose the bullied, who are viewed as the problem, rather than root out the thugs who terrorise their fellow pupils.
A few weeks ago I was in a bookshop, discussing a book with a member of staff, when we were approached by a boy of about 12, who had read the book, and entered into the discussion with us.
He obviously enjoyed adult conversation and we walked to the bus stop together, talking about his interests, his support for Birmingham City, when his schoolfriends supported Arsenal or Chelsea, and I thought what a delightful child he was, articulate and enthusiastic.
When he left us, my husband and I turned to each other and both said, "I bet he's bullied at school" and felt so sad that school life has come to this.