Emotional reactions pour in for bullied bus monitor

The story of 68-year-old bus monitor Karen Klein’s bullying as she sat on bus 784 in Greece, New York, has created an outpouring of love around the world and a renewed focus on bullying and elder abuse.

As she sat at the back of the bus on Monday afternoon surrounded by the boys, they filmed themselves hurling insults at her for the duration of the bus ride.

The video, which went viral this week after one of the students put it on YouTube, is a 10-minute long cringe fest in which four middle school boys taunt the woman about everything from her weight and hearing aid to her family, and they make graphic and violent threats as she hid tears behind her sunglasses.

Shortly after the video began spreading around the internet, a Toronto man who was once himself a victim of bullying saw it and decided to take action. He started a donation page on IndieGoGo with the intention of sending Klein on a nice vacation. His goal of reaching $5,000 was quickly met, and as the media attention grew, the donations spiraled and currently sit at an incredible $550,890 – enough to ensure she never has to work as a bus monitor again.

The controversy has grown to such a level that both sides are taking heat. Police have been sent to Klein’s home as well as all four of the students’ homes, as all involved have been receiving threats.

The children involved have received an influx of hate and threats, ever since the anonymous hacktivist internet message board 4Chan publicly posted the boys’ Facebook pages as well as those of their parents, along with contact information.

While the outpouring of support for Klein is unlike anything ever seen in a bullying situation, some are trying to lay blame on her for not stopping the children from this terrible behavior, which some say is what she was being paid to do.

Regardless it is clear from that video that these students are doing everything in their power to break Klein and make her snap, but she has the wisdom to engage in a kind of self-restraint many children suffering the same abuse most certainly do not have.

The visceral reaction many are feeling towards this particular situation comes because it was caught so plainly – we can see this woman and put ourselves in her shoes. We can all imagine how devastating this would be if it were our mother or grandmother suffering through this. For many of us, we’ve been there and we can relate to the pain.

Since the incident, at least three of the boys have issued apologies to Klein, and one of the student’s fathers came to her house to apologize for his son’s behavior.

Klein does not wish to see the boys face criminal charges, and wishes the threats against them and their families would stop.

Kids now grow up in a world where taking videos of people in humiliating situations have become the norm, with everyone wanting to be a YouTube sensation, and many now have access to cameras at any time on their phone. The one upside to this is that now it is easy to catch a bully in the act, which could help protect others from this kind of abuse in the future.

As much as bullying is the issue here, a big reason for the outpouring has came because we are not used to seeing our elderly abused like this. The issue of elder abuse is a big one, but most people mistake it for something that happens privately between family members or at nursing homes. That it could so flagrantly happen in a public place, and that no one stood up for this woman, truly astounded the world. The idea that children no longer respect their elders comes in full force when watching such a video, and it calls for a renewed look at the way we parent and what we teach our children.

Watch below as Klein speaks to The Today Show about the incident:

Watch her on Anderson Cooper as he announces SouthWest Airlines is sending her and her family to Disneyland for an all inclusive vacation.

Sources: The Star, Huffington Post, Storify, CNN

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