Friday, June 22, 2012


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 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 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.

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.