I'm really sick of bullies and they seem to be everywhere. You see them on television shows, in movies, posting comments on the Internet and even in our own lives. Anytime someone feels compelled to ridicule, berate, tease or undermine someone else's appearance, abilities or disabilities, thoughts, political preferences, religious persuasion, sexual orientation or race, in my mind that's bullying. And that's wrong.
Thursday morning, I was watching my usual morning news programs when a story came on about a school bus monitor in New York state that was bullied by a group of vicious middle school students. The 68-year-old grandmother, a former school bus driver, had been riding the school bus for about three years for a very nominal pay rate, apparently. Her job was to make sure that the students on the bus were safe and secure on the trips to and from school. I'll bet she never thought that she would have to be protected from those same students.
Someone apparently forgot to tell these unappreciative, mean young boys that it's not appropriate to tease and curse and poke fingers at their elders. In a fairly graphic YouTube video that's now gone viral, these smart-mouthed kids call her fat, ugly, a troll and many other disrespectful taunts. The videos - three in total - run about 15 minutes in length. At one point, Karen Klein - that's the bullied woman - begins to cry. That only seems to egg the little brats on. ?I wonder how they would have felt if someone did that to their own grandmother or grandfather?
The interesting thing is, no matter what these children said or did, Klein didn't respond in kind. She held her tongue and didn't lash out at these bullies. As an employee of the school district, she would have been soundly reprimanded, I'm sure, if she had responded. A district official did say that the students would be disciplined.
My question is why did the students think this behavior would be tolerated? Where did they learn that it's OK to harass their elders or their classmates? This is not simply a case of kids being kids. These actions point to something that is lacking in the way they were brought up. What ever happened to civility and respect? Not just for our elders, but for everyone.
The morning news show pundits tossed around some of those questions and they basically came back to the parents. As parents, it's our responsibility to show our children by example and in lessons that harassment, bullying and disrespect cannot be tolerated or overlooked. The "Oh, my child would never do that" excuse is invalid in this case, because video evidence exists. Parents need to teach their children how to speak respectfully to everyone they encounter in their daily lives.
Maybe those children had been bullied themselves or maybe they had bullied other children.?One social worker on the news program said that this kind of behavior could lead to future incidents that could be more severe and more violent.
On a positive note, a man from Toronto established a website to collect donations to send Klein on a much deserved exotic vacation. At this writing, nearly $400,000 had been raised.
So in the words of the immortal Crosby, Stills and Nash, "Teach your children well..."