Bullying, Forgiveness, Grace, Karen Klein, Max Sidorov, Parenting, Strong Women

How Strong is Karen Kline?

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.  

Let’s hope. 

Chingonas, Dignity, Grace, Kardisians, Rielle Hunter, Robin Roberts, Strength, Strong Women, Suze Orman, Wisdom

4 Qualities of a Strong Woman

Last week I posted on the subjective topic of ‘strong women.” It has nothing to do with physical strength or the exterior. It’s an inside job. No one gets to be called a strong woman without  facing and overcoming a few falls, detours, and obstacles in their path. 

And that’s not all it takes. 

After stumbling, learning, and getting up to face another day, a strong woman is willing to share her wisdom. She does this without bragging, drama, or asking for anything in return. 

Grace was the first quality I suggested as evidence of a strong woman. I mentioned Robin Roberts’s current health battle and MDS story as an example, which reflects a woman who exudes grace.

Some other qualities attributed to strong women are:

v  Women who inspire and support

v  Women who respect themselves

v  Women who carry themselves with dignity

There are several other qualities but let’s stick to these and see which women- who’ve made the news this past week- illustrate these qualities. 

If I posted a few photos of ‘celebrity’ women, I’m sure most people could pick out the strong women amongst them. Under whose photo would you check the box “Strong Woman”? 

Easy one, I know, but it’s just to make a point. 

I’d also like to point out that it wasn’t easy to find a strong woman that was in the news for the past week. There were plenty of examples of who is not a SW. But I guess those are the ones, in our media culture, who get the attention. 

The lack of ‘celebrity’ status for strong women is a bad situation for our girls.

The more focus we put on selfish, wanton, gossipy, (name that negative) girls and women the harder it is for our girls to develop the internal strength to become strong women. It is up to us as mothers, sisters, aunts, godmothers, grandmothers, and others to model SW behavior and qualities. 

We can begin modeling SW behavior to our toddlers and children and it’s never too late for teens. So give it some thought. 

How can you inspire others to be strong women? 

Chingonas, Female Offenders, Grace, Health, MDS, Robin Roberts, Strong Women

How To Be A Strong Woman

A phrase that has resonated with me for many years is the term “Strong Woman.” I first heard these words used to describe my mother when I was 10 years old “…she’s a strong woman.” I knew the person wasn’t talking about my barely five foot mother’s physical strength. 

Another time I came across the term was when I worked on a new project for the California Department of Corrections. The objective was to develop a “treatment mall,” akin to the counseling areas in some newer mental health facilities: offenders from different living units meet in one area to attend counseling and living skills sessions in a cooperative, female responsive environment.
The task was to develop this treatment area without building anything new and using the existing prison facilities. The process is too long to describe here, but part of the planning involved selecting correctional staff and some female offenders to develop objectives.

One of the best parts of this project was the naming of our treatment mall. We invited all of the young women to participate by giving the building a name and a motto. Prizes were photographs and pizza. This may not sound like a lot, but in a prison, pizza and pictures are gold. (I won’t mention the illegal stuff that’s also gold).

After much fanfare and anonymous ballots, we had a winner. The name of the building: The Sunshine Mall.

Its motto:  Strong Women Grow Here

This blew my staff and me away. I think it resonated so deeply because we felt they understood what real rehabilitation was supposed to be about. It meant some correctional counselors and team got it right with these particular women and that these women were listening.

Since that time, I’ve carried this motto and it’s concept with me. It finds it way into my fiction writing and I seek out books where characters are ‘strong women.’ It’s also made me think about what makes a strong woman.

A strong woman demonstrates several qualities. I could enumerate them but I also want to show examples of contemporary women who exemplify these traits. On the top of my list is:

Grace:The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts broke some bad news to viewers on Monday, announcing she has been diagnosed with MDS or myelodsyplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disorder.
In 2007, Roberts revealed she had breast cancer and underwent a successful surgery to treat it. Though she has been in remission since then, she revealed her new diagnosis is linked to her earlier health battle.
“When I faced breast cancer, your prayers and good wishes sustained me, gave me such hope and played a major role in my recovery,” she wrote. “In facing this new challenge, I ask humbly for more of your prayers…My doctors tell me I’m going to beat this — and I know it’s true,” she wrote in an open letter posted online after she announced her diagnosis on the show.

Here is grace in action:

Grace is not only possessing poise, it’s also an attitude of thankfulness and dignity. Everything, from Robin Roberts voice, body language, and words exude grace. Amid this health challenge she says she is blessed. Her sister is a perfect match for her bone marrow transplant. 

Roberts demonstrates her grace by telling her viewers that she is: 

“… focusing on the fight not the fright.” 

“I’m like everyone who faces some life alternating situations, whether it’s your health, finances, or whatnot. It’s getting off the mat and fighting…”

“…This too shall pass…” 

 I’ll be continuing this “Strong Women,” topic for the next month and I’d love to know what qualities you believe describe a strong woman.