I read a news article yesterday that had a huge impact on my entire day. A group of middle schoolers in Greece, New York verbally harassed their 68-year-old bus monitor so harshly and continually that she eventually broke down in tears. Some kid got a video of it on his cell phone and it went viral, which caused awareness of this incident to spread widely over the past couple of days. (Article found here.)
Hearing about this situation, especially that it happened in a town where many of my friends grew up (one of my best friends actually rode that same bus when he was younger) and very close to where I went to college, was so disheartening. I can’t imagine what would bring these kids to do something so repulsive.
I tried to remember being thirteen. For as much as I generally liked school growing up, you couldn’t pay me to go back to middle school. It was like an awful explosion of awkwardness, confusion, and insecurity.
I’m sure these kids are at relatively difficult points in their lives. This situation most likely wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t all around to egg each other on. I would bet there was at least one person present who wanted to object, but was afraid that the taunting would be redirected at them.
Reading the anger and outrage of everyone on the internet towards those kids actually made my own subside. As terrible as their behavior was, I don’t think responding with hate is the right way to react to the children involved. Karen Klein, the bus monitor involved, responding by saying that she hopes this incident might bring about something good, and prevent other people from being put through the same situation.
One proactive and compassionate person set up a fundraising campaign to make sure Karen is never put through the same situation again either. Originally, the creator’s plan was to raise enough money to send Karen on a vacation, but the campaign has received so much attention that it might be able to fund her retirement if she so chooses!
The campaign page, “Let’s Give Karen a Vacation,” has raised over $160,000 in support of Karen Klein (as a reference of how quickly news spreads on the internet, the count was at $25,000 when I first signed on less than 24 hours ago!). I think that even more than the money itself, these donations show that there are countless people who are behind Karen, and appreciate her for doing a thankless job.
I wouldn’t suggest watching the video. I got through about fifteen seconds before I had to close it. You can get the whole effect by reading the summary (warning, there is strong language involved) and by realizing that the video goes on for over ten minutes. That’s really all you need to know.
Anyway, hearing about this incident really put me in a funk yesterday afternoon. It just made me so sad. Hearing about the fundraising campaign that some kind soul put together, and reading the comments from strangers in support of Karen, made me feel somewhat better about people in general.
And I don’t know if the timing is intentionally related to this event or not, but I woke up this morning to see this link in my newsfeed: 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity. Check it out. It will give your heart the warm fuzzies.
I think that’s a good note to end on: a man with a basket of kittens on his head .
Had you heard about this incident? Any thoughts? Any other lovely stories to restore faith in humanity?