Your saying its the parenting of the victim thats changed which isn't true kids still try to fight back but bullies for obvious reasons don't pick on kids that can beat them up. You get thrown in a locker and come out swinging and get beat up they don't not throw you in a locker again they do it every day because its funny to the group to watch you get beat up. Its the parenting of the bully that has changed and accommodates the change. Kids bully each other much worse because punishments for doing so are far less severe. That is the truth of the matter not because kids are "pussified".
You know your friends who were bullied, I guarantee that to this day it effects them far more in there day to day lifes than you will ever know or they will ever admit. They are likely more uncomfortable meeting new people, less trusting and are likely either overly confrontational and defensive or are basically afraid of confrontation to a degree. They will never admit it and you may not even realize it but I promise you that it still effects them more than you will ever truly understand.
Kids don't grow up helpless, even if they are smaller. What I am getting from you is, you were assaulted by an almost man when you were a kid, and you could do nothing to prevent it, which is assault, not bullying. When you are talking about same age or close to it kids fighting and calling names, you are talking about bullying - something that a parent's parenting can fix drastically.
Parents should definitely punish their kids for bullying, that teaches them that it is wrong and that they should not do it. Every single issue comes down to parenting. The difference between the importance of teaching not to bully and to stand up for yourself is there will - always - be bullies, you cannot stop it, period, where as you - can- prepare your kid mentally and physically to prevent it and make sure it doesn't happen to them, and in the case of my friends I mentioned, be mature, mentally prepared and confident in yourself so that they can live day to day perfectly well.
As for my friends, they have no issues you are talking about,we have gone clubbing, drinking, most are married with kids teaching them to stand up for themselves the same way they were told to do so when they were young and got through it with no problem. One is a PR
rep, deals with people all day long and makes hard decisions easily, he was raised like that. Of course, they were bullied, not assaulted by a nearly grown man like you were.