Friday, June 22, 2012

Coming Soon to a Campus Near You.

Karen Klein is probably not the first face that comes to mind when you think of a poster child for bullying.

Yet there she was, sitting in the back of Bus 784 as it rolled through the streets of Greece, New York, on Monday afternoon. Four middle school boys barraged her with verbal abuse, jabbing her about her weight, attacking her family and chuckling as they made violent and graphic threats. Except for a few even-keeled retorts, the 68-year-old bus monitor brushed sweat from her brow and remained quiet, peering up front and out her window, seemingly waiting for her hellish ride to end.

Her suffering may have gone unnoticed had not one of the young teenagers posted a 10-minute video of the harassment on YouTube.

FULL STORY.

29 comments:

  1. I'll take that bus monitor's place for a couple of days. Those kids would be sorry they'd ever been born.

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  2. I was stupid when I was 12, but when I did mean things, I knew it was wrong. I did it in secret and tried not to get caught, because even if I thought it was funny, I knew I would have been ashamed to have been known as the perpetrator by _any_ adults, even anonymous ones, but especially someone I knew I would encounter again. These kids not only openly do this shit to an adult, they then post it online. They walk in a different universe.

    On the one hand they are just dumb kids and I hope this doesn't have life-long repercussions for them. I have often wondered what shit I would have following me around if I had grown up with the internet. I hope their names aren't published, for example. It's actually a pity this went national. Local shaming would be enough. But on the other hand, I hope they are at least for a few days in a world of hurt and learn a BIG lesson from this about respect, dignity and ethics.

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    1. I'm guessing there may be one or two truly evil (and/or severely troubled) but charismatic ones in the bunch, and the rest got caught up in the moment. But I agree; this would be better handled *off* the internet (and it sounds like the parents are, for the most part, stepping up and doing their jobs).

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  3. Consequences to their actions should be swift and meaningful.

    A slap on the wrist will teach them NOTHING.

    The problem lies with their parents and the lack of teeth in school discipline.

    If these "students" get away with this event, they will continue down a path to worse behavior in the future.

    A threat to stab this woman should be taken very seriously.

    I would gladly ride that bus as a monitor.

    Respect, dignity, and ethics are missing from all segments of life and this video proves it.

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    1. They *do* need to experience consequences, but we also need to remember that they're 12 or 13 (and male, which means they're even less mature than girls of the same age). "Zero tolerance" policies of various sorts have not worked out well in our local school system. Decent, compassionate, respectful behavior needs to be modeled as well as enforced, and many zero-tolerance policies fail to do that.

      That said, yes, the moment physical violence was threatened, somebody (I vote for the bus driver) should have called the police. That doesn't necessarily mean that the kid who made the threat should end up charged/in court, but somebody needed to draw a very clear line at that point.

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  4. Consequences to their actions should be swift and meaningful.

    A slap on the wrist will teach them NOTHING.

    The problem lies with their parents and the lack of teeth in school discipline.

    If these "students" get away with this event, they will continue down a path to worse behavior in the future.

    A threat to stab this woman should be taken very seriously.

    I would gladly ride that bus as a monitor.

    Respect, dignity, and ethics are missing from all segments of life and this video proves it.

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  5. Flog all of the little cretins mercilessly.

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  6. And in 5 years or so these kids will be charged with "evaluating" their college professors, most of whom will be contingent and thus especially vulnerable. The danger of the gang mentality is one of the reasons I point out that evals are an individual activity, and stay in earshot (but, as required, out of the room) when my students are completing them. The two times I've ended up with dramatically low numbers, there was some very clear ganging up going on (once by a bunch of sorority sisters, once by a group of pre-meds that I had put into a discipline-based working group). And in both cases, the underlying issue was whether fully satisfactory work should receive a B or an A.

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  7. Alex DeLarge and his droogs--that was all I could think of when I first heard about this story.

    And I am not surprised that the only reason we know about it at all is that one of the little fuckers posted it on youtube for all to see how "cool" they are.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. My sentiments exactly. Clockwork Orange was set in 1995 (Officer Corbey has an "ER" on his hat), when Burgess and Kubrick foresaw teenagers like Alex ruining the lives of people who'd done them no wrong, not because of poverty or oppression, but only because they were bored, because of lack of parental supervision.

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  8. Do they get away with this crap at home?

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    1. In my opinion, yes they do.

      This is a prime example of a weak parents/non-committal parents/single parent home environment.

      The behavior exhibited by these wanna be thugs is a learned behavior.

      We live in a day and age where anything goes, parents are afraid to set rules and boundaries for their kids.

      Keep in mind, these kids are our "future"; obviously we are in serious trouble.

      If my kids had pulled a stunt like this, the consequences of their actions would have landed them in very hot water.

      Parents, teachers, and the kids and their peers need to be held accountable for what they do.

      Apologies for the rant, I cannot abide a bully.

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    2. And yes - I agree with Bob. They are probably horrible at home. There are things LITTLE kids do in public that they don't do at home because the circumstances are different. Like at home, my son isn't strapped to a seat 6 inches from my face and walked down aisles of Fruity Pebbles. So at home he doesn't shout "I had dat I had dat" and wiggle his fingers at boxes and then turn beet red and scream. But these kids are too old for that, and they aren't frustrated, they're mean.

      Bob and I aren't saying the exact same things - but you get the idea.

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    3. Years ago, I heard a woman talking about the consequences of the parental/adult decision to present oneself to children as a friend and ally, rather than as an authority figure. In this model, children, she suggested, did not view traditional authority figures like teachers as their equals, but as their subordinates -- worthy of contempt.

      My sister references a Skittles commercial in which a security guard at a museum was labelled as a "loser" by the tween characters -- the stand-ins for the target audience. The commercial, by way of selling the product, endorses the position that children can and should pass judgement on the authority figures in their lives.

      And THAT is where evaluations come from.

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  9. Wonder what she'll do with her $$$$

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  10. I hope they all grow up and forget about this, have nice little families, send their kids to college and law school. I hope his becomes a famous case and in law school, when each of their kids discovers that their parents were the ones who said these things, they're so ashamed they shoot themselves.

    That's the meanest thing I've ever heard anyone say to anyone.

    Maybe I don't really hope their kids shoot themselves, but I do hope the words come back and haunt them every time they look at their own kids. I hope they lose sleep every single night from the moment they become parents to they day they drop dead. I hope every day is spent in dread. I hope when their kids are moody teenagers, that they come completely unglued.

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  11. You know what has me so upset about this story? It was the last day of school, and my autistic 5 year old's bus driver and bus monitor gave all the kids beach buckets and shovels and bubbles and hugs. They are the two sweetest kindest people ever and they are so patient and attentive with the kids on their route. The bus driver is actually kind of cute, but the monitor is very heavy. I always day dream that he'll fall in love with her and they'll get married because they're such wonderful people. But I digress... if she was on THAT bus, those kids could have been saying similar things to her. She's much younger, but I don't think she could have taken it any better. And the thought that people are that mean, to people like her, over being fat... What the hell?

    I add to my wishlist, I hope every one of those boys grows up to be morbidly obese. And I hope they all have bitchy teenage daughters who tell them not to get out of the car when they get dropped off in public.

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    1. "I hope every one of those boys grows up to be morbidly obese."

      You're criticizing these kids' fatphobic bullying by suggesting that fatness is a 'punishment' they should face? And using fatphobic language ("morbidly obese") as well? Um . . .

      Surely you understand that the problem here is not just that the kids said the things that they did, but that they believed that these were acceptable views to hold: that a fat person -- especially a fat woman -- should be stabbed and raped and defiled with bodily fluids (as they told her she should be, because she was "fat and ugly"). I wonder where they got the idea that fatness was a negative quality, and that fat people need to be policed and punished for existing? This isn't just about a few 'bad apples', it's about how socially condoned bigotry has real effects on real people, and how socialization perpetuates this sort of hatred.

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    2. I am not saying being fat is a punishment. I'm saying having their own children treat them the way they treated this woman for the same reason is a punishment. How can they be mistreated for the same reason they mistreated this woman if they are not also fat? I find it hard to believe a professor could read that and think "fat" was the part that was supposed to be the punishment. I find it very hard. I find it easy to believe that a fight-picker could do that. Not even that someone looking for a fight could think that, but that someone looking for a fight could PRETEND to think that. I can't make the troll accusation because you write well and have included coherent content. But I can't believe you can read how I feel about my own son's bus monitor - the heart sick I feel over this story - and then think "fat" was supposed to be the punishment. This story brought me to tears and your condescending response is hurtful and smug.

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    3. Hrm, I hesitate to curse anyone's children. Too Old Testament for me. Let us hope their children grow up to be happy, kind, decent people, despite the long odds.

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  12. It's a long shot, and I'm no pollyanna. I don't mean to excuse the kids (even though I haven't watched the video). But this reminds me of the case of Hazel Massery. Some people are still capable of genuine remorse, and that's what I hope for (some of) the kids on the bus.

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    1. @Rosencrantz Andor Guildenstern: Yes. Also, this reminds me of a couple of the photo analyses Errol Morris did several years ago.

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    3. Let's hope these kids do get to feel genuine remorse, enough to motivate them to leave good lives, after they've been given a punishment they'll never forget.

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  13. How did the video find its way on to the web? Was it one of the bullies who posted it?

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  14. Bob, can we lay off the bullshit about single parents here? I had one. I never cursed an adult in my whole childhood. I did, however, watch a 15-year-old with two parents in his upper-middle class home hop up onto the hood of my school bus and piss all over its windshield. I was 9. I have never forgotten that scene of cruelty and contempt.

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  15. F&T,

    Sure, we can lay off the single parent BS if ya wanna.

    My experience tells me that single parent homes generally produce marginal kids, just as two parent homes produce marginal kids.

    It has everything to do with what kind of example the parent/parents sets for their kids.

    Kids want/need rules and boundaries; a chaotic home translates into chaos at school which further translates into a troubling work-life or college experience.

    I was raised in an upper upper middle class family with two parents and everything we needed to succeed in life: my sisters and I excelled in our chosen careers and my little brother ended up dead in an alley behind a liquor store in Modesto.

    It's all about choices, Little Bro chose to drink and drug himself to death despite having all the advantages available to him.

    Those wanna be thugs made a choice to harass and bully an old women on a school bus. Are they the product of a broken home? I haven't a clue, I do know they have stepped onto a slippery slope and may not be able to recover. It is up to them and their parents to arrest the slide and become contributing members of society rather than a drain.

    OK, I'm done now!

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