How The Internet Rallied To Help A Verbally Abused Bus Monitor

Illustration for article titled How The Internet Rallied To Help A Verbally Abused Bus Monitor

Video of a bus monitor in Greece, New York being berated by a bunch of students landed on the Internet yesterday. In just a few minutes this group of kids manages to muster all the insecure cruelty that usually lurks beneath the surface of most preteens and propel it directly at this sad woman.

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The monitor, Karen Klein, starts crying as the kids refuse to stop bullying her. It's a terrible moment, but the response by Reddit users and other members of the Internet community was quite the opposite.

So far they've raised $28,000 in seven hours to help send Klein on a vacation and the local media and school board have been alerted. Here's how it all happened.

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There used to be a Storify embed here, but Storify doesn’t exist anymore.

This cynic in us knows this is only an isolated event of people helping in a cruel world where kids are constantly picked on because of their beliefs, income, race, sexual preference, and type of backpack. Still, in a world full of disappointing human behavior it's nice to highlight some positive actions.

Now let's muster all this energy to help out the people of Syria.

Storify by BenDoernberg

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DISCUSSION

I'm sorry to hear that those kids were so incredibly cruel to a woman kind enough to work the job that she did; it's not like she does this for money. I'm also extremely glad to hear that the internet was, for once in my lifetime, well and truly used for a spontaneous act of kindness and humanity by raising money to send her on a nice vacation. On the other hand, I'm somewhat disappointed to hear that as soon as the internet did that, it went on ruin it by promoting revenge on the students involved.

I well and truly respect the incredibly gracious intentions of everyone involved in this, from reddit users to 4Chan users. But just because others did something cruel, inappropriate, and illegal doesn't mean that everyone else should, too. Write a post insulting and berating the kids all you want. Write a post lecturing them. Write a post that express your disgust for their very genetic strains and the oxygen that they waste. I approve of all of the above. But revealing the names, addresses, and personal information of these kids is crossing the line.

Remember, folks, these are kids, after all.

While kids, particularly in this age range, can be particularly brutal little shits, they're still kids. We were all kids at one point, and we all did some stupid things. I can tell you all kinds of stories of the mean things that I did to others as a kid, right down to stealing LEGO pieces from a kid in Kindergarten to use on my own little LEGO project on a rainy day in the class room. In retrospect, none of what I did wasn't as bad as what these kids did, but I'm still ashamed of myself for having done those things. I don't ask for automatic forgiveness, and I don't think these kids are simply entitled to be automatically forgiven either. But sometimes, the worst retribution for the wrongs that we make isn't any form of human or divine punishment, but rather, simply, time. The time to grow up, mature, understand just how fucked up your actions were, and understand that there is nothing you can do to change your actions; you simply have to live with that knowledge of who you are and what you did. I know that for me, that's a pretty harsh form of punishment that has taught me, and humbled me, far more than any time spent in detention ever did.

Tell me honestly- how many of you are different? How many of you were perfect, intelligent, moral, and perfectly well-behaved kids?

If we well and truly want these kids to experience justice, then we need to give them the time to understand the particular brutality and cruelty of their actions. That may not happen overnight. It may even take a few years. In all likelihood, though, it will happen. But there's nothing that we can do about the time it's going to take. In the meantime, however, we can focus our energy on being kind to the victim, just as many people have here, and that's exactly how our energy should be expended. I'm proud of the people that helped, and grateful for their kindness.

Let's leave it at that, shall we?

We can be kind to the victim without wasting our energy on being unnecessarily cruel to the perpetrators, especially when that cruelty likely won't accomplish what needs to be accomplished. If we want these kids to not only comprehend the egregiousness of their behavior, but also learn something from it, then they need to have someone to learn from. They need to have someone demonstrate an example of behavior that they can use as a template to emulate. And that duty falls upon us. If you want these kids to grow up, then show them an appropriate example of how to grow up, act like an adult, and be a positive contributor to the world.

Showing kindness and empathy to those who are less fortunate is a good way to do that. Exploiting others and encouraging vigilante justices is not a good way to do that. But, now that the internet has provided both examples of behavior to emulate, we can only hope that with a little encouragement from us, they can grow into accepting the former example and rejecting the latter example.

Karen Klein- God bless you. I'm sorry that you had to be subjected to such a terrible side of humanity, and I admire how strong you were in the face of it during your interview. Thank you for be willing to be a bus monitor and make a positive contribution to society, even though society rarely seems to appreciate it much.

To the anonymous people that stepped in to support Karen Klein in the aftermath of this incident- Thank you. I always try to believe that there are good people in the world, but sometimes that's hard to do. Thanks for proving my occasional cynicism wrong (again), and providing me with another positive example to try to live up to.