As I write, many of my friends in California are reeling from the tragedy in Santa Barbara. I write to highlight that once again mental illness and bullying are at the bottom of it.
Clearly we have not done enough to address these two issues. I don't have the answers. I do know a systematic evidence based approach is necessary to address the problems of both mental health and bullying. From my perspective as a physician, the mental health community already has a good grasp of the problem. I'm not so sure about the teaching community. More importantly, and sadly, whatever insights and interventions these communities possess, their implementation of them is sorely lacking.
I studied diffusion of innovation as an undergrad at Stanford. A new belief, outlook or a behavior is actually an innovation of sorts. Sometimes we call them memes, a repeating, or contagious entity. I believe we ought to leverage our understanding of memes, innovation and behavior change to tackle the problem of bullying. We ought to bring in the experts in this field: ADVERTISERS. To really make inroads into the darkest corridors of middle school, or the supervisor's private meeting at work, knowledge of bullying and it's solutions must permeate our culture.
What work that has been done thus far, seems to have, perhaps of necessity, focused on the victim, and the bully. However I feel, and this is not evidence based, we must turn now to the people who hold power: Teachers and popular children. In the literature of innovation, it has been found that there are certain index figures, also called champions, influencers, or early adopters. It is these people that need to be identified and leveraged for this most important cause.
Some helpful references :