It's near the end of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower now- it's a beautiful film. But the portrayal of school life is savage. Can you imagine knowingly putting your kids through that? There are probably prisons which are more civilised.
I suppose there must be, to a point. Does it really seem institutionalised though? I'd love to hear more about your impressions from films etc if you are not based in Britain- the Hollywood stuff is obviously quite mainstream everywhere, but I'm curious how accurate it is.
I have heard it said that Middle Schools are particularly bad (ages 10-14) because that's when girls tend to be at their bitchiest. By 14-18 most of the worst has settled down which is high school era.
Totally assumptions here based on facebook friends who live in the US but I think in the US there is a lot less pressure for the school to be dealing with bullying issues and more expectation that parents will either sort issues out between themselves, or the kids have to toughen up and deal with it because the onus is more on an individual to survive and be strong.
Of course I am sure it is hammed up for the drama in films - it would be totally mundane if normal school life was shown, surely. But I think some of it could be cultural.
BTW current (ish) UK school drama - Teachers, Waterloo Road. Waterloo Road being the most dramatic school I have ever heard of while there are familiar elements, it doesn't resemble any real school year.