Kids can say the cruelest things. This, as with bullying, is nothing new. But the age of social networking has brought the ugly, nasty kids are capable of to all of our Internet browsers. It's one of the latest challenges facing student transporters.
This topic has weighed large on my mind these past couple of months, especially in the last few weeks as the STN editorial staff was completing the July magazine edition. Inside, readers will find an article on the social media phenomenon as it is playing out on school buses. We have most noticeably seen this with the influx of videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and the like of bullying incidents or fights on the bus. But one specific viral incident not only gave me pause but frankly made this reporter irate.
Karen Klein is a 68-year-old school bus monitor for Greece Central School District in upstate New York. WARNING: The following YouTube video contains explicit, disturbing language and is graphic in nature. Viewer discretion is advised. Some miscreant who shall remain nameless shot a 10-minute video of Klein sitting on the bus during a route while several students baraged her with some of the worst things you could say to a person not to mention an adult authority figure. It gets so bad Klein is reduced to tears. Otherwise, somehow she keeps her composure as these little idiot spew forth their vitriol.
At one point, Klein is heard saying: "Oh boy, am I glad this year is over" and "I'll make sure I don't get you guys again."
As this blog was being prepared, Klein apparently was preparing to be interviewed by the likes of CNN's Anderson Cooper and by ABC's Goodmorning America. The story has already gone national via the Huffington Post, which reports that Greece CSD and its police department are investigating the incident. Another media outlet reports that the students involved face disciplinary action.
I would certainly hope so.
So many people are outraged by this video, even an online fund for Klein has been started in an effort to collect enough money to allow the 20-year veteran to retire and to take a vacation. The goal was $5,000, but as of this writing people donated nearly $65,000. Update: Since posting this blog, donations exceeded $500,000.
The donation site says that Klein makes $15,506 a year as a bus monitor. If you ask me, and countless others, the lack of pay for school bus drivers, monitors and other transportation staff is the biggest cause of shortages nationwide. With all that these employees are expected to do, the pay is never comensurate with the job. But seeing a video like this, it's simply not worth it. Unfortunately this abuse is nothing new.
But it's still just as disgusting to see.