We're told that it happens to everyone, that it's part of growing up, that it builds character.
But when a video shows a victim picking up his bully and throwing him like a rag-doll, or a young girl being chased down and beaten until she bleeds from her ears, do we say enough is enough?
Napier Family Centre child psychotherapist Dianne Lummis said 40 per cent of her clients were bullying victims.
The taunts and torment had serious effects in all areas of their lives.
"Bullying has a major effect on children's self-esteem and confidence and their sense of self," she said. "It's often very difficult for the whole family, as the whole family tries to help the kids and most of the time they feel quite helpless."
Prime Minister John Key announced on Tuesday that all New Zealand schools needed to review their monitoring systems.
Hastings Intermediate has been praised by parents as a school that nips bullying in the bud. Principal Andrew Shortcliffe has recently been presenting his strategies to principals in Auckland, Palmerston North and Hawkes Bay.
"All schools have bullying. You're never going to get rid of it completely, but it's how quickly and firmly and successful you are in ruling it out," he said.
His school role had doubled in the past two years as the result of a "virtues" programme, that made the school into a safe learning environment.
"We teach the virtues programme to kids, it's pretty much the backbone of the school. It's an old-fashioned approach that teaches courtesy, courage, commitment and co-operation."
The mother of one student, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted The Hawke's Bay Today last week commending the system.
She said her son had an issue at the school which was handled well.
"I was told about it really quickly, right then and there. It wasn't left for days, or worse, left to not be looked at at all - I was kept informed right from the beginning.
"The principal himself rang me from home in his own time, and he made my son a call after the incident to see how he was feeling."
Head girl Isla Christensen, 12, said there were clear boundaries set that students knew not to push.
"Bullying here is dealt with really quickly so if there are small deals there are no big deals. We have high expectations and low tolerance levels," she said.
Prefect Summer Wynyard, 12, said low levels of bullying at the school was a result of close teacher-student relationships.
"The kids have connections with teachers and all staff and students so they don't feel like they need to bully. If anything does happen we're not scared to tell because they get to know us."
The prefects are part of an "academy" programme at the school, sponsored by 20 local businesses, where Year 8 leaders are nominated by Year 7 students to interact with them and make them feel safe and welcome.
Mr Shortcliffe, or another staff member, stands at the school gate each morning and afternoon and greets all 500-plus students by name.
"When you catch them coming in and out you can read their mood and pick up on anything that might be a problem elsewhere. You'd be surprised what we've found out, and it's great to send them off in a good mood," he said.
Student attendance rose from 85 per cent to 92 per cent, and stand-down levels had dropped from one in 16 students, to one in 400.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) workforce development co-ordinator Dianne Wepa was aiming to get the Hastings Intermediate model into other schools.
Ms Wepa said she believed a culture of safety, security and confidence set kids up to succeed before they reached high school.
"It's the holistic approach. The other principals have been very impressed with it. By taking interest in home life and school life and bringing parents in quite often for activities the school-home connection is bridged and they get a sense of belonging," she said.
Mrs Lummis said teaching children appropriate behaviour was crucial, as bullying typically gets worse at high school.
"As children get older it seems to get worse with cyber-bullying, etc, at high schools, so it's great to be changing it at younger levels."
Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Principals' Association president and principal of St John's College, Neal Swindells, said most schools in the region had cyber-safety policies to deal with the issue, but it was very hard to monitor.
"At St John's, students and their parents have to sign a cyber-bullying policy, but we are also vulnerable to modern technology, especially the issue that's come to the fore this year with the filming of violent incidents."
He said teens seemed to feel a sense of anonymity using technology, and didn't gauge the consequences of sending a text or writing something on Facebook.
"It makes it a really difficult issue for schools and families to manage, often issues like that are out of school issues that carry-over."
All schools tried to work out appropriate ways to deal with issues, and ways to include and inform the school communities about bullying and appropriate ways to behave.
Mrs Lummis said it was the families who did not want to be involved in the process who were most concerning.
However, she said recently she had been dealing with a lot of bullies, not just the victims.
"I've been getting an increasing number of clients who have been bullies and that's been interesting. Their parents come to me and say they have anger management issues, and they are often involved in anti-social behaviour.
"One in particular was quite dramatic and when I worked with the child and family they actually had the same self-esteem problems and confidence issues as the victims, they just expressed it differently."
She agreed with Ms Wepa and Mr Shortcliffe that a whole school approach was the key to tackling the bullying issue.
"I really think a culture change is definitely the right way to do it, it's the whole school that needs to try and change. It's not just between the child and the bully."