Bullies on the bus reveal deeper societal woes (VIDEO)

Response to the video of Karen Klein’s harassment has been strong. And revealing. Photo: Karen Klein, victim of the school bus bullies AP

CHICAGO, June 24, 2012 — Donations are pouring in and the media is abuzz with sympathy for bullied school bus monitor Karen Huff Klein. Reaction to the video of Ms. Klein being assaulted and threatened by a group of middle schoolers has largely been disgust and outrage, with a tremendous outpouring of support for Ms. Klein. Many of the comments posted under the video, however, leave just as much room for discussion as the video itself.

Consider these three recent comments posted under the video:

“BAD KIDS HAVE BAD PARENTS!”  ChrisVaughn85  

Sorry, ChrisVaughn85, but that’s a cop-out. While it is true that many children who are bullied, abused or neglected by their parents often become bullies, many do not. And people with loving homes can become bullies. Or drug users. Or shoplifters.

Bad parenting is difficult, sometimes impossible, to overcome. But there are children of alcoholics who never touch the stuff. There are children who were abused but who never raise a hand to their own kids. And there are children who were raised by loving parents, who had family dinners almost every night, whose homework was checked in the evening, and who ended up shooting heroin between their toes.

Are all of these children exceptions to society’s stereotypes? Could be. Parents are only human, though. No one comes out of childhood without scars, but we all come out of it with our own sense of right and wrong. Our parents helped define that sense, but we as individuals decide whether to accept or reject their definition.

While environment plays a strong role in whom we become as we grow, at some point every one of us is responsible for our own actions. And that point comes much earlier than we realize. These kids are in middle school. Thirteen-ish. Decisions like this they are making for themselves.

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Read also Karen Klein and the schoolbus bullies

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“Someone should slice the throats of these little ___stains, I won’t feel bad for their parents, they should’ve known better. Make them pay for raising little pieces of fecal matter so that if they decide to try again, they’ll get it right. Destroy garbage like them.”  Kindahuge  

Wow. Let’s just assume “Kindahuge” refers to anger issues. “Slice the throats…” “I won’t feel bad…” “Destroy garbage like them.” Threatened violence and an extreme lack of compassion. Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes. In the video.

Teenagers can be the victim or the bully

Bullying can be a tricky thing to identify. Many of the phrases thrown at Ms. Klein have been bandied about between siblings forever. When one irascible teenage sibling recently threw a “fatass” toward another, with a helping of “It’s no wonder you have no friends,” a nearby adult called him out for bullying. His response: “That’s not bullying.” Adult: “Then what is bullying?” Teen: “That’s not it.”

It’s extremely important for children and adults alike to avoid becoming the pot while calling the kettle black. (Incidentally, according to her mother, Sibling #2 above is developing a nice, non-stick surface.) Rather than defeating bullying, Kindahuge added to the problem and probably does not even recognize it. He/she did it anonymously rather than posting it to the world the way the bus bullies did, which is Kindawimpy. If you feel that strongly about something, Kindahuge, own it. If you don’t want your name attached to something, maybe you need to rethink it.

But back to the point. There are now more threats and less compassion in the world than there were before this comment was posted. In a quest to eliminate bullies, Kindahuge became one. There is no easy answer to ridding the world of bullying. But the first step may be learning to recognize it in ourselves.

“I’m almost crying with laughter. Nicely done!”   Sleepless4120

Sleepless does not identify himself or herself. There is no age given, no gender, no location. By now every person reading this has assigned Sleepless to some other town in some other part of the country. Maybe Seattle. Truthfully, though, Sleepless could be your neighbor. Or your daughter, your son, or one of their friends. Or one of those “other” kids at school.

Wherever they may be, Sleepless and Kindahuge and the school bus bullies are part of your world. But so are the countless others who have shown their outrage at this incident and their support for Karen Klein. It’s a world in which, whether ChrisVaughn85 likes it or not, we choose our actions, if not our emotions. The lessons brought to light from Ms. Klein’s ordeal don’t stop at Bullying is Mean. The discussion shouldn’t stop there, either.

(The following video contains strong language and adult content.)

Julia Goralka has been bullied, has witnessed and stood up to bullying, and has done her best to guide her children through their own ordeals. To contact her, see above.


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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