Thoughts on Karen Klein

When I started this blog, it was out of frustration for what my son had endured at school because of a boy who had been mean to him on and off since their days in preschool. This was about my frustration with schools in general turning a blind eye to bullying and the constant excuses of parents who like to just say that bullying will “toughen up” a sensitive child or “it’s just boys being boys.”

I did not know that a few months down the road I would be addressing a bullying incident a few miles away in Greece, another large Rochester suburb. I am sure by now you all have hear of Karen Klein, the 68 year old bus monitor for the Greece Central School District. Whether you want to call this bullying or elder abuse, this incident is clearly reprehensible and was done by CHILDREN without a moral compass.

I am not an expert on elder abuse by any stretch, but what Karen Klein endured would fall into the elder abuse criteria according to the New York State Office of Children & Family Services website:

Under the Emotional Abuse heading, they describe it as “Willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, intimidation or other abusive conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, isolating or frightening an adult.”

“Flicking” this woman’s head, as evident in the video, would be a form of physical abuse, I would say.

It is just sickening to hear and see what these SEVENTH grade students did to this bus monitor. I do not think anyone with a sense of compassion can watch without having a range of emotions from shock to sadness to anger and disbelief filling their hearts.

Here is the video, which has made headlines all over the world. As I type this, more than 1.6 million viewers have seen this:

I have to say that I am amazed at the courage and restraint that Karen Klein had when she rode the bus with these “children” on Monday afternoon. I do not know if you or I could have listened to such hurtful things without lashing out as a way to cope with our hurt and anger.

I have said it before and I will say it again–this goes back to the way children are raised.

Respect must be instilled early on. Lead by example. If your children hear you speaking with contempt or with disrespect for your spouse, you are telling them it is OK to speak that way to others.  If you are hostile toward your children and call them names or make them feel worthless, you have NO ONE to blame but yourself for bringing them up this way.

I remember that along with “please” and “thank you”, respect and compassion were ingrained in me as far back as I can remember. I went to school respecting my teachers and being kind to my peers because I was taught that it was the right thing to do.  I remember being a child at the Palmyra Elementary School walking by the Principal’s Office. Just walking by the office made you have this fear that you never wanted to be the “bad” kid sitting across from Mr. Caringi because he just commanded respect and kindness.

How the Greece Central School District handles this is crucial.  They have a choice to make and how they deal with this will send a message (positive or negative) across the globe.

Karen Klein has stated that she does not want to press charges against these children.  I would think she would be well within her right to do so.  Maybe if more people were held accountable for their actions (or their parents) other bullies might be discouraged from further acts of violence and intimidation.

People around the world, though, are wrapping their arms around Karen Klein virtually. More than 12,000 people have donated money since yesterday on the fundraising website, Indiegogo. Started by Max Sidorov, a Toronto nutritionist, as a way to raise $5000 for Karen to have a dream vacation, people around the globe have chipped in. As I type, the total is $260,181! Maybe Mrs. Klein can have that dream vacation and add the rest to her retirement so she never has to work another day.

I want to say to Karen Klein that I am so sorry that people were so cruel to you.  You are loved and cared about by millions around the globe.  No one should ever have to endure the abuse you took. You showed grace and integrity–a lesson so many can learn from.

What are your thoughts on this incident? I’d love to know.