The last story I wrote yesterday was about the bus monitor, the kids who were mean to her, and the Internet community that rallied to her aid. I was hoping that would be the last story I wrote on the subject, but I think we've all maybe lost our minds and are now turning on the kids in a way that's just as bad as what they did to this poor woman.
Kids occasionally act in cruel ways and the video of bus riders abusing a bus monitor is the purest, cleanest form of adolescent vitriol you're likely to see in suburban America.
It would be absolutely shocking if we all didn't know it happened every day. If we all haven't witnessed such an act of cruelty in our lives or, honestly, hadn't participated in something terrible at one point and just had the good fortune of doing it before every kid was carrying around a video camera connected to a global network in their pocket.
The kids who were mean to bus monitor Karen Klein — and they are kids — deserve stern punishment and serious censure, but they also deserve the kind of compassion that they were unable to muster.
What they did to Klein is reprehensible, but also apparently completely random. There is no reason why it happened that we know of beyond kids all at once deciding to turn on someone they see as weak in a sort of "Lord of the Flies" natural instinct. Maybe it was hot. Maybe a kid got picked on earlier. We don't know for sure, but it doesn't appear to be premeditated.
Our angry response to these kids is premeditated. It isn't random. Whether it's pure empathy for this woman or people remembering how it felt to get picked on, we're choosing to attack these kids for a reason.
And attack we have.
The police have had to guard the homes of the students involved out of fear of retribution.
Klein herself has been fairly calm considering all that happened. Far calmer than people who weren't themselves the victim, asking only for an apology and saying she'll go back to monitoring "Because all kids aren't bad."
I'd actually say these kids aren't bad, they're just behaving badly. Are we really going to write off an entire group of children because they acted like little jerks at the age of ten? What if one of these kids had been one of your own?
Our natural response to help Klein is wonderful. So far the net has raised $147,000 for the woman and counting. Fantastic. Good job us.
Our other natural response isn't so wonderful. The one that sees someone unable to protect themselves, sees something wrong with them, and attacks with fury. Let's all be bigger than these kids and seek not revenge but compassion.
Photo Credit: Helder Almeida, Shutterstock.com