We are in an ongoing conversation with the school administration and the classroom teacher. They understand, at least partly, the seriousness of the situation. The bully's mother has been spoken with and the bully herself has been put on probation. It's a start.
We have also discovered that another girl (who had formerly been a friend of our daughter's) was participating in the bullying. Very sad. For everyone. She has apologized, as has her mother.
We are asking the school to adopt a true anti-bullying curriculum, which would require that all the teachers complete a free, online course about how to identify, deal with, and prevent bullying. We'll see how they respond to that. We're also trying to take some proactive steps with our kid - who is small, bespectacled, and a bit fearful - that might help her have more body confidence. To that end, we're looking at a number of options - maybe one-on-one lessons with a female tennis pro, the idea being that more physical strength and confidence might help prevent this in the future.
So day by day, step by step, we're facing the problem and trying to solve it as best we can.
One really touching thing that has come out of all this is how many people have reached out to us, some to offer help and guidance, others who have shared their own painful stories of having been bullied. One friend wrote "I can still remember the dislocation and lack of confidence it produced." That's the crux of it right there. To be bullied is to be made to feel that you are worthless and helpless. The current research shows that bullying, far from making a person stronger, makes them more likely to suffer long-term from anxiety and depression. (And the bullies themselves are far more likely than their non-bullying peers to end up in jail!) So it's a very serious problem and we are doing everything we can to make our daughter's world is safer and give her the tools she needs to prevent this from ever happening again.
Here, for anyone who is interested, is an excellent website/course on bullying prevention (it's free!). It presents the most up-to-date research and techniques in a lucid and digestible way. I highly recommend it!
Pathways Bullying Prevention