Haha, I get that same feeling when reading slashdot. I'm in a small mid-western town (20k residents when I was in high school, my graduating class had a little over 300 kids).
There were cliques, there was an occasional fight.. but honestly there was little drama and I never saw any forms of bullying. Sure, people would talk about others behind their backs but that's as far as I ever saw it go.
I was small, did not have much confidence, and I dressed myself really bad.. but that never made me a target.
I routinely chat with people from my class, I'm amazed at how well the class spread out around the country and what some people have accomplished. I guess I was very lucky to know so many wonderful people.
I wouldn't call my school years great but that is more on my own attitude and not how I was treated.