It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. That could be the title of Karen Klein’s week. The bus monitor (for over 23 years) was the subject of bullying, a viral YouTube video, talk shows, and a fundraising campaign. This 68 year old grandmother of eight did not use violence against the bullies, has shown grace and dignity in her responses, and evidenced a forgiving spirit.
This is a strong woman.
Four 7th grade boys, subjected Ms. Klein to a barrage of extremely graphic language, taunting her, poking at her, calling her names, for over ten minutes. In the video, she seems to try to ignore the taunts, but appears angry. The video isn’t linked here because that’s not the focus but I’m sure one could find it easily.
When I viewed the video, my blood boiled and I had to turn it off within 5 minutes. I’ve heard worse (but then again I worked in a prison) so it wasn’t the language. What got me was these are middle grade kids who persisted in mistreating this woman, taking video, using her humiliation and tears to continue the barrage to another level. One comment referred to her son who committed suicide and said she should also. It was torturous.
They are ‘hella lucky’ they didn’t pick on Madea….’hellerrrrr’
Karen Kline did not resort to violence although, “Oh yeah, there was a part of me, but it stayed in me. I wanted to slap, slap, slap…just wipe the snicker right off their faces, but you can’t do that. I didn’t.” The verbal abuse had her break down in tears.
She did not report this to the school administrators and it appears neither did the bus driver or the other boys and girls on that bus. (Although one kid is shown leaving his seat and moving). What does this say about all of them?
No one would have ever known of this incident; if one of the perpetrators hadn’t showed-off, and posted the video on Facebook and until someone eventually took it and posted it on YouTube. The audacity and arrogance of that kid.
There have been numerous comments ranging from blaming the boys’ parents, the school they attend, the bus driver (for not stopping the bus) and some twisted comments that it’s Ms. Kline’s fault for tolerating the abuse and not smacking them (the boys) until doomsday.
Some of the boys’ parents visited Ms. Klein and profusely apologized. That’s fine, but what about the boys? They haven’t as of yet, and that may be a good thing as Ms. Klein is not ready to see these boys yet. The boys and their families have now received nasty phone calls and threats to their safety. Which bothers Ms. Klein. “I didn’t like that.”
Ms. Klein does not want the boys to face criminal charges. “Community service…” would be a better idea.
She said she is happy with the swift and strong community response against the verbal attack aboard an Upper New York School District bus.
A 25 year old Toronto man, Max Sidorov set up a webpage titled “Let’s Give Karen the Bus Monitor a Vacation,” which is all slightly confusing to her. Mr. Sidorov himself was bullied after immigrating from the Ukraine at age nine.
“I think we can do something positive and spread light on this issue of bullying around the world,” he said.
Given Karen’s character, she’ll probably give away some of the money from the fund. I wouldn’t doubt that she will help others before she takes that vacation-if she ever does. Hopefully, she’ll use these funds towards retirement, so she doesn’t have to work anymore.
With YouTube views of over 2 million hits, appearances on the talk show circuit, media attention and the dignified responses of Ms. Klein that message will spread.