I have been following this story like many people from all over the world. Unless you have just been rescued from a desert island, been living in a cave without Wi-Fi, or just immigrated from Mars, you have already heard about Karen Klein.
For the benefit of you island dwelling, cave squatting, Martians here is a recap. Karen is a 68-year old grandmother from Greece, New York. She is also a bus monitor for middle school kids. She was doing her job when several boys started to taunt her. One of the boys recorded a 10-minute video of the shameful event. It is tough to watch. The boys curse her, call her fat, and even physically threaten her. The worst part is when one boy says that all her family killed themselves to get away from her. In reality, her son did commit suicide 10-years ago.
Karen remains calm throughout the ordeal. She makes a few comments, but mostly tries to ignore it.
It is important to note that she is in the back of a full noisy bus. She is far from the driver.
She says she does not believe that these are bad boys. She says that one-on-one they are not like this. It happens when they get together. She opted to let it go.
Then why does the world know all about it? Because one of the boys uploaded the video to You Tube. It immediately went viral and in a flash it was all over the news. The comments are plentiful and varied. Some call out Karen herself for, what is called by some, a passive reaction. The parents are vilified. The school is inundated with calls and emails.
Karen is trust into the spotlight and one person starts a donation website. He asks people to give so that Karen can go on a dream vacation. He hopes for $5,000 in a month. Friday afternoon the donations are at $545,000. That is SOME vacation. Southwest Airlines offered Karen and nine of her family a free trip to Disney World. She has gotten cards, flowers, letters, and gifts from all over the world.
The school and the police vow punishment. I do want to see severe consequences for these boys. Karen thinks that all the boys should be banned from the bus and all sporting events. I think that is not enough. There needs to be more.
I will say, the fact that Karen will likely be a millionaire by Sunday is a SMASHING lesson to these little snots.
But here is what I really HATE about this story. At least one of the boys, and probably all of them, received thousands of death threats. I will NEVER understand this kind of response. It makes no sense to me. Bullying a bully never accomplishes anything. Aside from that, what happened to "let the punishment fit the crime"? What happened to teaching children why something was wrong? What happened to second chances? What happened to "two wrongs don't make a right"? When did the death penalty get assigned to everything? (Including having an opinion. A few weeks ago a Sports Illustrated model tweeted a negative opinion about Chris Brown and was immediately flamed with threats ranging from insults to menacing comment like, "I hope that you and your family are all raped and murdered.")
The boys and the parents all wrote apologies.
“I am so sorry for the way I treated you, when I saw the video, I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I am sorry for being so mean and I will never treat anyone this way again.”
A second boy wrote,
“I feel really bad about what I did,” wrote Wesley. “I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at them.”
These boys did a terrible and dumb thing. One boy, the You Tube one, did TWO. But, they are thirteen. There is time for them to learn, grow, and repent. They have been humiliated. They will be punished. Is it too much to hope that this lesson will cause a dramatic shift in the course of their lives that leads them to become better humans?
Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
It is my expectation and desire that these boys learn from this. I hope that they take this event through their lives and use it to change, not only themselves, but others.