Video of Senior Citizen Being Relentlessly Bullied Goes Viral

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Video of Senior Citizen Being Relentlessly Bullied Goes Viral

I’ve spent a lot of time on my blog discussing the epidemic that is cyberbullying and the exponential rise in childhood cruelty, but I have seldom explored how bullying is affecting adults as well – mostly because we don’t come across these headlines nearly as much.

But this morning, something jarring stood out to me when I was searching Google News. The headline read “School bus monitor bullied by students” and the text of the story was painfully hard to digest.

On Tuesday, a 10-minute video hit YouTube depicting some of the most inhumane verbal treatment of an individual that I have ever seen or heard. For 10 minutes, a group of middle school students from Athena Middle School in upstate New York disparage, ridicule and torment Karen Huff Klein, a 68-year-old woman who has worked as a school bus monitor for over 20 years.  And all the while, some pitiless kid sits there with his cell phone recording the whole thing.

The kids not only poke fun of Karen’s weight, appearance and socioeconomic status, but also threaten, mock and physically jab her. Some of the most horrific comments include a group of boys telling her that they will come to her house to do harm and that Karen’s children should commit suicide; they also make sure to spew off several lewd, suggestive comments. The video has quickly amassed well over 1.5 million views and, as one would surmise, viewers have been outraged by the video, as evidenced by the stream of comments.

To be honest, I hesitate even sharing his video clip, as it is truly gut-wrenching and the public should not have been privy to Karen’s pain. But on the other hand, this YouTube clip will hopefully serve as a strong wakeup call to kids and adults everywhere that animalistic behavior like this has to stop. And that’s simply what this behavior is – barbaric.

If you can make it through this clip (and to be honest I had to stop after four minutes), you will see how truly cruel kids today can be. We might be well aware of the instances of teen cyberbullying and anguish happening in the school halls and in everyday life, but what about adults who are being targeted by kids? Bullying truly knows no limitations as both the young and the old can become its victims.

At least one group out there is channeling its outrage over the YouTube clip into good as a campaign has launched called “Let’s Give Karen a Vacation.” The site asks individuals to donate money until Friday, July 20, to help Karen retire. So far the site has raised more than $174,000 and that number increases every minute. It also lists the school principal’s email address, staff emails and the school’s website. I have little doubt that the school will be inundated with emails and phone calls the next few days.

According to multiple news reports, the school has stated that extreme disciplinary action will be taken and the kids’ names have already been turned over to the authorities. The school district said its bullying team and the local police are conducting an investigation.

"We have discovered other similar videos on YouTube and are working to identify all of the students involved," the district said in a statement.

Karen told reporters at WHAM that she doesn't know if bullies can be charged, but "they should have some form of punishment." She refers to the teens as "regular, normal kids" who one on one are “OK."

"Just don't get a bunch of them together. That's when the trouble starts," she said.

As put by Karen, as the torment unfolded, she tried her best to shake it off and she did not hear everything that was said as she is hearing impaired. After watching the clip back she said that the hazing deeply hurt her. 

Simply put, there is no excuse for these kids’ callous behavior. You cannot even chalk it up to their youth because this behavior is so deliberate and so planned that it could have been avoided. A lot of people are blaming the parents for raising kids who could be so cold. I agree only somewhat. At the end of the day, parents can do the best they can but even the most involved, loving parents, can see their kids take a wrong turn or succumb to peer pressure. And at age 12-13, these kids know right from wrong.

Here’s hoping the school district and police do more than just slap these kids’ wrists. I have written countless stories about bullying but this instance without a doubt rises to the top as one of the most harrowing. And here’s hoping that Karen remains strong during this and gets peace of mind soon.



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