Friday, June 22, 2012

Wondering....

Marty has to get the credit for this one.  Like many people, I've been following the story of Karen Klein, the 68-year-old school bus monitor who was caught on video being severely and inhumanely bullied by a group of middle-schoolers.  And, like most people, I thought it was an outrage that these young menaces would do what they did to this sweet lady.  They were, indeed, beyond cruel.  Their behavior was reprehensible.  I was very happy, like I'm sure many of you were, that the action against these boys was swift, and it appears that it will be quite harsh...as well it should be.
Marty saw the whole thing differently.  He called me, full of alarm, to ask if I'd seen the story.  Well, of course I had.  Half the world has seen it by now.  Hell, Karen's getting a vacation out of the whole deal, paid for by "everyday Joes" from around the world to the tune of $427,000+ and counting!!!  That's going to be some vacation. 

What alarmed Marty was the fact that the authorities did, in fact, react as swiftly and definitively against these young tormentors; however, when it comes to the bullying that's done to their peers, everyone drags their heels.  Worse, they fall into a very predictable pattern of complete denial. ("Those boys are good as gold"...Kim Lockwood)  Once he pointed that out, they whole story about Karen Klein became a whole different story for me.

I'm wondering how "they" would respond to that.  We know all too well about the intense bullying that goes on both in the schools and on the school buses.  For those of us who have seen the movie, "Bully", we've seen it up close and personal.  Some of you have been bullied yourselves or have kids who have been.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.
What Karen Klein endured from these young tyrants, no one should have to endure.  That includes their peers and classmates!!  We have a culture where kids, straight and LGBT, are ending their lives because of the very same thing that Karen endured.  The world saw the affect their mindless meanness had on her, and the world reacted.  Swiftly.  Effectively.  Where is that response when the kids who suffer that same level of abuse day in and day out?  What is it about our culture that relegates that behavior to a "boys will be boys" mentality when it comes to the young people being bullied but runs to the aid of a Karen Klein who only suffered the same mindless attacks that the schoolboys and girls suffer everyday?  Understand that these are questions that beg to be explored and answered.  It's a mindset.  It's a mindset that costing lives needlessly.

The members of the facebook blog page hold my feet to the fire on everything I write, and I love it.  It keeps me on my toes.  That said, let me clarify that I have no problem whatsoever with the outpouring of love and support that Karen has received from around the globe.  I think it's heartwarming to see everyone respond like that.  She certainly should have never had to go through this in the first place.  My issue, and Marty's issue, is simple:  where is this response when we know that this is happening day-in-and-day-out to school kids on school buses, in schoolyards, and in classrooms every single day...in nearly every school across the country?  Where's the rush to action then?  Why are the authorities not responding to those incidences with the same fervor they responded to in Karen's ordeal?  These are questions that need to be scrutinized and answered before we can begin to see improvements.

It is my opinion that this case proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the ball is being dropped in the homes.  I'll come under attack for that statement.  But, allow me to state my case:  as the overwhelming majority of you fellow Baby Boomers will attest to, there was absolutely no way, when we were adolescents, that we would even dream of talking to our elders the way these boys talked to Karen.  NO WAY!!  Respect was instilled in us.  So, where was the ball dropped?  Isn't respect something that's supposed to be taught in the home?  How is it that these boys, and others like them, are so at ease with talking to an elderly adult in this manner?  See, if these boys have no respect for a 68-year-old grandmother, and clearly they didn't, there's no way in hell they can be expected to have any respect for their peers. 

The cold, hard truth is that we're not going to solve anything, insofar as bullying is concerned, by focusing solely on the youngsters.  It's becoming more and more clear by the day that the real work is needed from the top, down.  Look, these kids are being taught to be cruel, disrespectful, careless, and intolerant.  Whether the teaching is direct or indirect, the teacher(s) is the adults in their lives.

Karen Klein, I'm sorry you had to endure such insensitivity from these boys.  I hope you have a wonderful and memorable vacation.  As for Marty, well...what can I say?:  that's my boy!  As for everyone else, teach love.  Teach respect.  Teach acceptance.  It's the only way out of this mess.

UPDATE:
As I was writing this, the story was released that two of the tormentors have since offered what seemed to be heartfelt apologies for their behavior.  That's good!  When interviewed by Anderson Cooper, one said:
"I feel really bad about what I did," Wesley, one of the boys in the video, said in a statement issued to the show by police. "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 the people who did that to them."
while the other youngster stated:
"I am so sorry for the way I treated you," Josh, another one of the boys, said in a statement. "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."
See, they aren't born to act that way!!  That repulsive, and dangerous!, behavior is taught.  Directly or indirectly, the lesson is still taught and learned.  I'm wondering what would happen if every case of bullying went viral like the Karen Klein incident did?  Forced to actually see their actions as the video goes viral, and sentenced to hearing the world respond to their spiteful, nasty behavior, I'm wondering if we'd start seeing some of these young bullies begin to turn away from their negative and cruel behavior?  One can always hope.
 


16 comments:

  1. I don't, for one second, believe the little deviants 'remorse' I believe they are little delenquent sociopaths, and believe they will grow up to populate our already over-crowded prison systems, you can't treat someone like this, for over 10 minutes, bring an elderly woman to tears, and convince me that that you won't go on to commit even worse atrocities against society... SMDH Teens today have no respect or morals, it makes me sick

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    1. Making generalizations about "teens today" is completely unhelpful to the situation...

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    2. I think I have to disagree. It's always easier to remember the mindless little cruelties that others inflict on us, but much harder to remember the grip of social pressure forcing our own actions. Everyone has the capacity to lose themselves in this kind of horrible behavior. Seeing video of themselves doing such horrible things forces them to remember what they almost surely would have put from their minds, as almost all of us have with similar (though perhaps less severe) actions from our past. I think their remorse is genuine, because everyone who engages in mob mentality and social pressure has at least the capacity to feel shame afterward, especially when presented with clear evidence rather than biased recollection.

      The difference here is that they're not being told it's okay, or being allowed to get away with it. They felt inclined to do it, and they felt ashamed afterward, and they're being told that one of those is Correct and the other is Incorrect. That's how children learn. We're only now teaching them appropriately.

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    3. I don't agree that everyone has the capacity to lose themselves in this kind of horrible behaviour. "Mob mentality" and "social pressure" has the capacity to bring out faulty character in those already in possession of faulty character by giving them permission of a sort to behave deplorably. I believe there are many people who do not feel shame afterward, whether or not presented with clear evidence. There simply are some very nasty people out there. Furthermore, these were not young children, 2 or 3 years old. Teenagers are still developing, but to be as hurtful as they were for the amount of time that they were hurtful, seeing this lady being brought to tears, and continuing on......please! They knew exactly what they were doing without having to be told that their actions were incorrect, and the supposed "shame" they felt is indicative of the trouble they're in from parents, school officials, etc. and wanting to be in as little trouble as possible. They clearly did not realize how far-reaching this video would be.

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  2. The world in general would be a better place if we were all forced to see our own actions in a mirror every day.

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  3. Sorry, but those blank apologies do not mean a thing. If they were "sorry", they would not have done it in the first place.

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    1. By that logic, no apology is genuine. You can't be sorry for something you didn't do.

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  4. i think that the school should video in the hall.
    and the school buss then there would have proof that this is going on in the halls and the buss.
    i know that if some one from the school was on the buss the kids would be good i know i have driven school bus for 7 yr and some thing like this.
    happen on my bus and what would get me is when a
    7 to 10 yr old would tell there parent to go F!#
    them self and all the parent would say is now that was not nice so its know wounder that yhe kids are so ness up

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  5. First thing is actions are louder than words those kids will bully again. I have no doubt. I am not being a pessimist but a realist. Second thing is I know what it feels like to be bullied day in and day out at school because I was bullied from kindergarden until my sophomore year and high school where finally i got fed up snapped and choked one of the bullies. People respected me after that. I regret choking her because it was not the right way to go about things but the bullying stopped so that made me happy. The main reason why I was bullied was because I was respectful and teachers loved me. TIMES ARE DIFFERENT! Kids will do anything to be respected by their peers and seemingly respecting adults is not one of the ways to be accepted by their peers. Lastly this is a generation of kids that realize respect is a two way street. Parents need to respect the kids give them a little freedom and then the kids will respect the parents. Thats it. As i said times are different and that is not going to change. Bullying is cool according to the upcoming generation. That is a cold hard fact. Teachers do not do anything about it because they really cannot do anything. Parents do not do anything because guess what... if they do the bullies crank up the heat on the kid they were bullying. In other words the intensity increases. Plus going back to teachers... the same happens. So the kid being bullied is trapped and cannot talk to anyone. Hence the suicide. Bullying is torture and it is worse if there is nobody to talk to which is currently true 15 years and counting. Sorry for the long comment.

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  6. I was subjected to worse treatment than the bus monitor daily as a child back in the 70's. We had no monitor and the bus driver rarely said anything. I was spat upon, not allowed to sit anywhere despite the bus driver yelling at me to sit down. In order to get a seat I was forced to say thing like "I'm here to seduce you." Boys exposed themselves to me and urinated on me. This continued from kindergarten through high school until I was old enough to drive myself. I wasn't even out as bi until I was an adult. I can only imagine how much worse that would have been.

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  7. what is wrong with you people money for vacation when shes to old to be working anyway and them poor kids mier childern getting death threts over it dont you all think that this has been taken to far i was teased by kids the whole time i was in school but we move on i think its time this women grew upso they teased her a little bit get over it.

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  8. Post above me,
    The woman in the video did not ask for a vacation fund nor post the video. None of what the public has done to support her has been done because she asked.
    "Them poor kids" behaved horribly. "Them poor kids" demonstrate very dangerous behavior. "Them poor kids" will have consequences.

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  9. I'm all for video cameras anywhere and everywhere bullying might take place--buses, lunch room, hallways, playgrounds-- but with the awareness that bullying can be a whispered word in passing, a look, a gesture, a prank call, a text message...all of which would be unseen. I recommend the book "Bullying: Death on the Playground." It clarifies the problem and has a lot of good info on causes and what schools and individuals might do to help without making things worse, which is what telling an adult may do.

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  10. I'm not sure I'd be so willing to forgive them for their behaviour. I wouldn't sue their asses, but I wouldn't just let it fly. Bullying is totally unaccaptable behaviour.

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  11. I remember a time when all school busses HAD cameras, what happened to them? sure they were big, bulky and ugly looking things, but they kept everyone the bullies at bay. They need to bring back cameras on school buses and record audio as well. I agree that society jumps to it's feet when an adult is being bullied by kids, but we let our own offspring deal with it day in and day out and call it "character Building". It's not right.

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  12. I definitely understand the boys being punished for their unbelievable behavior. and i do feel sorry for the woman that was bullied by the boys, but hired as a bus monitor her responsiblity is the safety of the children and if she cant protect herself, how would she be able to protect the kids on the bus. my son was bullied so badly on his school bus and in school that he was terrified to get on the bus and to go to school. the school district definitely did not do their job to protect my son. instead of the bullies getting the help they needed, i had to get help for my son so he can deal with the bullies. i had to send him to a special program and had he had to be put on meds to deal with the horrible situations he had to go thru. my son was one of the lucky ones. we are a very supportive family and would not give up, unfortunately there are so many poor children out there that have no one to turn too, or dont have a family that knows what to do, so these poor children commit suicide. We are so lucky we had a very happy ending to the bullying situation. my son graduated from high school last week, and is a strong, happy, friendly and funny young man. and hes NEVER ALONE

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