It was another case of video gone viral, this time a group on junior high kids shamelessly harassing a school bus monitor calling her ugly, fat, according to some reports threatening to cut open her stomach, students even going so far as to make her cry by taunting her about her family committing suicide not to be around her. The outpouring was swift and beyond measure for the woman a charity set up for her raised many times the amount of money to send her on vacation, enough for her to now retire should she choose to while reactions called it sick, vile, wrong, blaming the parents, blaming the school system, the media, culture, society that will not hold parents accountable, will not let parents parent by spanking, a society where no one respects each other. Over and over again solutions voiced by commenters included kicking their ass, beating their ass (their phrases for spanking) what would have happened in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s if they had ever spoken to an adult that way, the downgrade in American society, comparisons of our society to Asian and other cultures in how it treats it’s elders. However aside from the idea that stopping abusive behavior requires using another form of abusive behavior, beating/spanking the kids until they can’t sit down for a week, calling them sociopaths, wanting to take them to a maximum security prison to be yelled at by inmates scared straight, sent to an alternative school to encounter truly tough violent kids; there are, as always, larger issues to be examined than just the kids’ behavior, the quality of parenting, the quality of society.
To begin with the poster of the video thought they were doing a good thing by using said cellphone video to showcase the horrid behavior of their fellow bus riders; unfortunately while they brought attention to the problem, they also gave both the kids and this woman 15 minutes of fame. Likely all the students will care about is that they are now on YouTube, days, months or years from now they may try to spin it into a comment on obesity in America; at the same time, this woman is for, no matter how short a time, a household name, has had one of her most humiliating moments viewed by a significant portion of the world, has now been put on all 3 major network morning shows talking about the incident, something she may not have wanted. On the other side of the issue one of the parents was appalled by his son’s behavior, punished him accordingly but now lives in fear of multiple death threats he and his family received after what happened was publicized; worse, his address and phone number were placed online further making them targets. Sadly such actions are wholeheartedly supported by the public as it will out the kids as sociopaths and the parents as scumbags, possible bullies themselves. Regrettably by alerting everyone to the nastiness perpetrated by these kids we may well be feeding more instances like it. How people can justify the right, the justice, in sending death threats, yet perceive themselves as better than the kids themselves is a mystery; we already suspect there is something wrong with the kids what’s wrong with the adults reacting to this situation? And to clarify the father of one bully who spoke out said he was paying for what he had done, was being punished, nowhere did he say publicizing the story was punishment enough, neither did he or any other parent state or imply that an apology was the end of the matter; his comments only referred the death threats being over the top, unnecessary, completely disproportionate to what his child had done.
Both the school and local police are investigating to determine the punishment from the school’s perspective and what, if any legal action the students could face. So far blame has been placed on the kids, the lack of good parenting, television shows teaching bad behavior, and the schools in general whose administrators won’t stand up to parents who are no better than their bullying kids, who defend their kids relentlessly, who won’t punish children severely enough because of mentioned parental outcry, schools that won’t teach manners and civility since kids aren’t getting it at home, yet the school is far more culpable in another way; they hired at least one bus monitor logically presumed because they were having a problem, at minimum, on that bus and they hired someone who is admittedly hard of hearing, the personification of sweet old lady expecting her presence to deter, control unruly behavior which is absolute wishful thinking. Next when a commenter pointed this out astutely, saying directly she looked like easy pickings they were vilified as just as bad as the kids, multiple people accused them of blaming the victim. But again there is more to the comment and more to the conversation; one how can she do her job well if she can’t hear at 100%; she may see something and inaccurately report what happened based on the fact she didn’t hear the beginning insult a student leveled at another thus making the latter retaliate with words or by hitting, latter person getting in additional trouble. Two her demeanor and personality from both video and interview display a bright eyed, obviously cognizant person but who is demure, soft spoken; she was woefully unprepared for the job, probably naively thought she could treat these kids like she would her eight grandkids. Bringing us to the next reasonable question for the school, where was the training for a new employee about here’s how you handle X if it happens, a warning description of why she’s there in the first place, the kinds of behavior attributed to the students causing them to need a bus monitor; if they were going to hire someone exhibiting that particular personality, where was the basic training in assertive and authoritative techniques that would allow her to succeed in her job, where were the suggestions about how to approach the job? Instead it appears the school sent her in there a social lamb to the slaughter; it’s not about blaming the victim, it’s about they put the wrong person in the job. The school could have eliminated the problem all together by installing cameras on all busses or at least those having problems, not hiring bus monitors, cheaper in the long run not having to pay salaries for years on end. Also it gives administrators more power to play the video, see who did what, who said what, who stated, instigated what, play it for parents and say this is why your child is being suspended, expelled, prevented from riding the bus such a long time, banned permanently.
Simultaneously, as a person, projecting an air of authority and assertiveness will prevent you from being bullied by those underage, of age or in your age group. It’s not about blaming the victim it’s about keeping people from becoming victims, not painting a target on your back in situations ripe for becoming a victim. From day one she should have projected a calm authoritative manner requesting to be called Ms. or Mrs. Klein, when addressed Ms. Karen if she was comfortable with that, giving the kids the message they needed to treat her the same way they would a teacher, administrator on school grounds rather than what you hear the one kid doing saying hey Karen then a derogatory comment. Similarly commanding respect rather than demanding respect by balancing the teacher like authority with the concept of you call me Ms. Klein, you don’t give me or your fellow riders any nonsense and I can be your friend within limits, I can fulfill a mentor type role, listen to you, be a positive in your life on the way to school. Conversely it seems she began with the latter, trying to be their friend rather than projecting authority akin to a parent. Also brought out by the few objective comments regarding the situation, she not only failed to stand up for herself, refusing to tolerate the behavior by letting them know it would be reported, asking the driver to stop the bus, she failed to adequately fulfill her job as bus monitor by keeping control of the people on the bus, curling in on herself, showing a reaction to what they were doing, and she did have the authority to demand they stop remind them of the school punishments they could receive. Does that mean what happened is her fault; of course not. It means she is the wrong person for the job, creating a perfect storm of exactly what happened. Also to be dispelled are these public perceptions of the school bus monitor as a helpless little old lady with a typical grandma persona; she may be a grandmother but she’s not helpless, this didn’t take place in an alleyway. Again she was there to do a job; if she couldn’t do that job, she needed to quit. If she’s that helpless she needs to collect social security not be on a bus monitor, and not for rowdy junior high kids. It begs the question how was she able to parent if she can’t handle unruly kid behavior; how does she handle her 8 grandkids? Next there is some basis for the skepticism to be had regarding our reaction to donate money to this woman first in the hopes of giving her a well-deserved vacation, then many hoping she would take the funds and retire, never having to be in such an environment ever again, money still coming in for a woman who has said she currently has no intention of quitting her job, who refused to press charges against the kids, leaving it to the school to dole out punishment. Why are we compelled to give money to someone who was so incompetent on the job?
In the interest of fairness and giving the whole truth, the whole picture we see 10-20 minutes of what these kids did to the bus monitor; there is no evidence as to what led up to their taunting. Did she that day, or on another occasion, do something, at least from their point of view, that wronged, slighted or humiliated them? Unlikely though it may be in this case, did she bully them prior to that day, before the kid took out their phone and started filming; did she subject them to nastiness then breakdown when she was bullied? Because bullying is not just a problem for kids; the latest trend involving teachers and authority is they are the bullies. Following the benefit of the doubt logic that maybe they thought they had been wronged by her suddenly makes this not some random, cruel act, certainly not right but something explainable and understanding is the first step to preventing it. It’s similar to the beating of a girl posted on YouTube turns out the teen perpetrators sought to humiliate her as they thought she had humiliated them only inflicting much more harm than they realized. Another case the third grade students who horrified people when they brought supplies to school to attack a teacher, assigned tasks to each other like closing curtains as not to get caught; we suddenly began blaming violent, cunning adult video games, TV shows. Come to find out the 8-9 year old girl brought the supplies to school so they could throw a pie in her face, big threat; however all we heard was the headline, missing, tuning out the subsequent details. In this case for example the kids stated she was so ugly her family probably killed themselves not to be around her, clearly said in a tone that demonstrates they meant it as a joke; on the news it was portrayed as especially sick because her son did commit suicide 10 years before. While they should never have said it; none of them knew that, that still didn’t stop the news outlets from making it seem like they did. Speaking of threats, to be challenged is the interpretation comments about cutting her open were threats, that they constitute everything from a hate crime, to terrorism, to a felony, when what is actually seen is an age appropriate curiosity about anatomy very inappropriately expressed; they didn’t want to cut her open to harm her they wanted to see what was under her fat. Morbid yes but also a part of their normal development; kids this age have the same curiosity about animals and other things. Further there was no brandishing of a weapon, no attempt at violence, no indication the treats were anything but a joke to them, no indication that Ms. Klein was in fear of her life, her safety, that she took them seriously. Translation, these kids behaved meanly and cruelly; the “threats” do not however mean they are evil, devils spawn, psycho or sociopathic.
Unfortunately very few constructive opinions on what actually should happen to these offenders exist among the public; as alluded to before, beating their ass till they can’t sit down for a week while threatening them that if they ever do anything like this again won’t solve the problem, prevent it. In fact it will do one of the following, cause them to take out their anger over that type of punishment on others, beating up smaller, weaker students, currently or later in life taking a baseball bat or other object to people who look like either their parents or the adult they got in trouble for bullying. Considering some of the humiliation and creepy aspects attached to how parents who do employ spanking, spank today, incorporating standing naked in corners, being swatted with wet dishtowels, forced to remove underwear for spanking, spanking done by hand by an opposite sex parent; it’s the last thing we want people doing, fostering a hatred for authority, hatred of women, an inferiority complex causing them to strike out, anger issues at being mistreated. Ironically violence begets violence and we wonder why the spanking generation produced so many violent, bully-like kids who grew up to have offspring who are the same; online the comments range from throwing them in jail to killing them with guns, machetes, beatings, enacting crueler punishments than anything they did to this woman, even taking into account the psychological damage, ranging from removal to testicles, tar and feathering, poking out eyeballs with various objects, things they would definitely go to jail for but these children deserve extreme punishments from rot in hell to the death penalty. Perhaps it’s this cultural attitude not a lack of respect for elders, humanity, decency that caused them to think it was ok to do what they did. Astoundingly the people suggesting extreme punishments are the ones so viciously bashing the parents before they have had a chance to punish their children, calling them bad parents, who talk about spanking, beating their own kids, leading one to wonder what kind of parents would they be; what kind of consequences would society be subjected to if they really did raise their kids as they claim they would? These are the people who cultivated the concept spanking/hitting equal teaching kids respect to where even parents who refuse to spank because they grew up in a household like that and want different, better for their kids, lack the communication skills, the ability to turn common situations into teachable lessons about how to handle things that occur in life.
Punishment should be as follows; they are individually forced to stand up in front of the entire school, administration, any in the community who want to attend and Ms. Klein vividly detailing their actions, individually forced to apologize, then are banned from the bus for no less than a semester, possibly a year. Once allowed back on the bus, their behavior is monitored any further problems a permanent ban for the rest of their school career, as long as they remain in the district; this is non-violent, does not include jail/juvenile detention where they can pick up worse behaviors, is proportionate to the offense and actually has the effect of teaching them what they need to learn. Additionally, each child would be required to undergo counseling and empathy training to find out what the real problem is and make sure they understand the impact of what they did. Are they insure, do they have low self-esteem, have they been bullied themselves, are their actual problems at home, besides the assumed lack of parenting, are they being beaten, are they being spanked and this is the result, have they been sexually abused, are their parents going through a divorce, are they facing homelessness, is there domestic violence in the home, are they bullying as an outlet for their troubles because of any of the above or more. Are there real emotional issues not just the amateur psychology tags individuals have seen fit to place on them but depression, suicidal thoughts, cutting; because, as shocked as we are by the video, we would probably be equally shocked by what goes on in these kids homes, not in lax, permissive, parents trying to be their kids friends, but the abuse, the ignoring, the cold, aloof nature of the parents, events in these kid’s pasts. Speaking of proportionate responses, to be addressed is this repeated public misconception Ms. Klein dealt with this all year, put up with tons of crap that culminated in the video we saw; wrong she told Anderson Cooper on CNN that nothing like this had ever happened before, part of what made it so shocking.
On a social level we need to seriously think about our views on respect, how we define in what it looks like when demonstrated, along with our very warped view of cultural history, how it used to be and our constant need to compare ourselves to other nationalities, cultures. We want our children not to be bullies, not to react violently then call the kids in the videos girls, weak explicit names for not picking on someone their own size; we want our kids to be respectful but from the moment they are born we find subtle and not so subtle ways to disrespect them, children where once meant to be seen and not heard, harshly spanked for disrespect, even if the adult they “disrespected” was in the wrong. Now from a very young age we don’t believe them even when they tell the truth because little kids make things up, they couldn’t possibly understand what concept X means, we take out our stress about work, relationships, life on them just for wanting our attention, we disrespect who they are by comparing them to siblings, ignoring their love for a school subject that is not our favorite, make implications about gender, sexuality when a boy joins the school play. As said above spanking parents humiliate their children’s bodies with the things accompanying the spanking then, with all that, we wonder why respect is not returned. To be challenged is the concept that everyone who is older than you is to be respected, honored venerated, solely based on how many years they have been alive; most kids today don’t respect adults because there is nothing to respect, not because of a failure of parents to teach it, media and other influences glorifying bad behavior, a denigration of society as a whole, rather a failure of a majority of adults to live up to what they teach. By the way mentioned phenomenon seems to get worse the older the “elder” happens to be. That being said we need to stop our nostalgic love affair with the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, deluded things were better, as near to perfect as you could get- we need to stop pinning for what we think other cultures achieve in reverence, respect and admiration for the aged and realize the 1950’s, the era everyone goes back to where everything was supposedly right about child rearing, discipline tactics was a decade of alcoholism as a way to cope with societal conformity. You are looking at 3 and 4 decades where being beaten, cruelly treated at home was just life, 3-4 decades of prolific sexual abuse that was never talked about, forget treated. For a decade of spanking as the norm, the proper way to handle kids, look what came out of 1950’s mentality, the counter culture of the ‘60’s; however, even in the 1970’s and 80’s spanking was in the majority of households, yet some of the most horrific, headline making serial killers come out of these decades Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, Jeffry Dahmer. But spanking needs to return to society, the resounding chorus should be I don’t think so. Compounding the issue is what other cultures do to gain the respect they receive Asian families disowning children who choose their own career path, humiliating, shaming and name calling them to make them do better, causing suicides when they fail, when they can no longer stand the pressure of being who their parents want them to be. Maybe we should follow Arabic Muslim countries, cultures who engage in honor killings when a young girl dresses too American, is in the company of a young man alone or fails to pay proper homage to their family.
Kids, teens and young adults have a very high hypocrite and B.S. meter, tolerating nothing that sounds like either. The reason why young people are prone to thinking anyone under 30 is behind the times or plain out of their mind is because too many are. Personally I’ve had repeated experiences with supposed elders who were working in places who couldn’t keep facts in their head, couldn’t get my order correct, couldn’t tell me aspects of products or programs I was inquiring about, had limited common knowledge and appeared generally stupid, gave vacant vacuum stares, a lady at a job placement agency gave me a bullet pointed resume that might have passed muster in 1975 rather than use a resume template in something as basic as Microsoft Word, but it was agency policy staff did resumes, preventing me from doing anything more than arguing with her over it. I have had multiple encounters with older people who tried to give me life advice telling me there were replacement parts for microwaves; when a family dispute broke out over landline phone usage, one older relative told the other it was only an extra $10 a month to add a line, actual cost nearly $30, they had to be reminded of the $75-150 installation fee. Comments about the installation included they would have to go under the house to install it; they did no such thing. Speaking of what used to be, it used to be elders knew something; elders were to be, and could be, respected for their knowledge, wisdom. Now too many older people use age to demand respect in terms of listen to me, heed my advice then say things like this, sounding altogether like toddlers when they do; too many use age to be grouchy, crotchety, profane, who are more likely to respond to a kind hello with an expletive than anything else, who if you try to help them across the street, be nice you will end up assaulted with a handbag. And when younger people try to state the real, factual truth, or drop subjects politely, respectfully it only makes the older person get more forceful, loud, belligerent. I had a downright creepy experience in a pharmacy where an elderly lady starts talking to a woman I had never met about something I should try, because she thought the latter woman was my mother based on our proximity standing at the same counter, despite the fact I have been of age for over a decade, casually mentioned having a college degree during the course of polite conversation. Not to mention do we really want our kids respecting some of the adults out there, people in their 40’s, 50’s doing things even teens know better than to, the woman who had her 11 year old blow in her car attached breathalyzer, the teen who called 911 after dad had too many to drink, the child molesters, the true crazies, most parents would say I don’t think so. Regrettably Ms. Klein is the victim of every other adult’s stupid behavior.
Lastly as this unfolds people go from the cynical viewpoint of there will be no apology, there will be no consequences, the parents won’t step up, to the apologies were fake, they are less valued because they were not delivered in person, despite the kids being in hiding due to the death threats generated by the very public making the aforementioned statements, the parents aren’t doing enough. We blame them for it happening to begin with, but by that logic what does it say about Ms. Klein’s parenting, her relationship with her grown son that he killed himself; now, if you find the appalling, ask yourself how that mentality is different from us blaming the parents of the kids who did this for something they handled once they had knowledge of it? It’s what they do going forward that matters. However if the apologies were sincere now we’ve handed over the message being genuine, trying to atone for a mistake is worthless, playing by the rules adults set gets you nothing, part of what lead to this in the first place. Not to mention we beg parents to parent then when they do we, the outsiders, aren’t satisfied; we beg parents to parent but then force them to work 10-12 hours days, multiple jobs to pay for the basics in a decent neighborhood, all while holding them to the task and standard of teaching manners, behavior exc. like in the 1950’s when women primarily kept house and men worked 8 hour jobs. We beg parents to parent but you aren’t a good, successful person unless you are working that many hours, forging a career not just a job, we beg parents to parent but most employers don’t even give women maternity leave, refuse ideas like flex time that allow parents to take care of their child and work, on site daycares exist but not nearly enough and affordable childcare is an oxymoron, causing parents to work more hours, the other parent to get a job solely to pay for 8 plus hours of child care while they hold a job. We look at this and say how horrible when it is our crusade against obesity that projects the concept obese individuals are contagious, a disease, are a problem instead of they have a problem, then wonder why children have no empathy, compassion, because it was never really taught. We are the ones who teach conformity above all else wondering why children, others possess a mob mentality. It is the previous generations who cultivated the social behavior of automatic respect based on age alone rather than knowledge, character, interaction, paradoxically disseminating the manta respect is earned, then are willing to do nothing to earn it themselves; it is older adults who have let themselves become out touch then wonder why younger people don’t bow down to them. Adults need to work on being respectable before they go about preaching to young people about respect, so that the Ms. Klein’s on the world don’t have to pay for any more of their mistakes.
Click here for the latest update on Karen Klein and the students who bullied her