After reading the comments at the WSJ, I remember why I subscribe to the Financial Times instead. Anyhoo, I had to give this one some thought.
I don't see bullying as a good or character building thing. There have been multiple studies done that demonstrate worse outcomes for kids that are bullied versus those that are not.
To me, the solution has to be holistic. Parents need to empower their kids to push back on bullies. Schools need to create an environment that reinforces that bullying isn't cool. Principals and teachers need to be prepared to discipline bullies when the issue is getting out of control. Kids need to learn empathy and that actions have consequences. Schools need to be held accountable to prevent systemic abuse. I don't think any of these items are particularly controversial.
That doesn't mean that children can't learn problem solving or conflict resolution - not every situation requires a teacher to get involved. There is a dividing line between isolated incident, personality conflict, and systemic abuse. The school's response needs to be proportionate to the intensity.
One of things to remember about being a kid in school versus an adult is that a kid has little choice on whether to go to school (or even what school to go to). If my boss is a dickwad, I can tell him to f himself and change jobs. If he assaults me, I can punch back or sue him. If he harasses me, then he gets to have a fun talk with HR. Most adults aren't in a situation where they will suffer eight straight years of abuse without recourse.
My coworker R's son was being bullied several years back. R's son was noticeably depressed and down over being bullied. R handled the situation well - he got his son a bit of therapy, enrolled him in karate classes, and discussed the issue with the school. R's son confronted the bully eventually, words were had, bully lost face, and that was that.
I would agree that the prevalence of bullying hasn't significantly increased from the good old 1960s, but I don't see that as a reason to not do anything. We don't have to tolerate the way things always were. Progress is possible.