A recently discovered YouTube video of 68-year-old hearing-impaired school bus monitor Karen Klein being harassed and abused by middle school age boys recently went viral. When watching the ten-minute profanity-ridden video, any sane, compassionate person would despair — we had to turn it off after less than one minute.
Klein, whose job it is to make sure that children don’t fight or endanger themselves on their bus to and from their school in Greece, NY, sits quietly as students call her fat, accuse her of pedophilia, tell her she’s poor, and tell her that her son, who committed suicide ten years ago, killed himself because he didn’t want to be near her. A giggling boy jabs her in the arm with a book as he ridicules her weight.
It is, to put it mildly, devastating.
The school issued a statement, assuring the media that they’d identified Klein and the children in the video and were investigating the incident.
“Based on our internal investigation, and the interviews
conducted by members of the Greece Police Department, we have identified
four Athena Middle School students as participants in the incident.
Certainly the behavior of the students on the video is a clear violation
of our district’s Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated.
Disciplinary action to the fullest extent appropriate under New York
Education Law will be taken against all involved. However, as we stated
yesterday, it is not appropriate for the district to discuss the
specific disciplinary consequences that will result for any individual
student,” reads a statement on the official website.
There is some concern for the safety of the very young students involved in the abuse. “People are outraged by what has happened and they feel the students
should be punished. While we agree that discipline is warranted, we
cannot condone the kind of vigilante justice some people are calling
for. This is just another form of bullying and cannot be tolerated,” reads the statement. “We
all need to take a step back and look at how we treat each other. It is
our job as educators and parents to teach children and lead by example.
We encourage parents to use this as a springboard to begin a dialogue
with their children about bullying, respect and consequences.”
In a surprising and heartwarming display of compassion, strangers who viewed the video on YouTube set a goal to raise $5,000 to send Klein on a much-deserved vacation. The internet rose up — and by 2 p.m. PST on Thursday, a fundraiser started by Reddit user Max Sidorov had raised over $315,000.
Not only will Klein be able to go on the vacation of a lifetime with her family, but she’ll be able to retire if she so chooses — though she tells the media that she will continue to work at the school because she loves the children there.
Klein will appear on “AC360” on CNN on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST to talk about the incident and the resulting media firestorm with Anderson Cooper.