Bullied bus monitor Karen Klein looks forward to retirement, helping her family, and paying it forward

When 68-year-old school bus monitor Karen Klein was savagely bullied and taunted by a group of teenage boys last month, the YouTube video of that event went viral. (See earlier blog post, with link to the video, here.) A good Samaritan set up an online fund in hopes of raising $5,000 to give the upstate New Yorker a vacation from her work situation; to date, it has raised over $680,000.

In a followup story for Yahoo News, Jason Sickles reports that the money will allow Klein, who earned $15,000 a year as a bus monitor and has experienced some serious hardships in her life (including the suicide of a son), to retire. She’ll also use the money to help family members who have been dealing with disability and unemployment.

Paying it forward

But this is not only the story of 31,000 people making donations to a fund for someone who before was unknown to most of them. It’s also the story of a woman who has experienced some real hardships in her life (including the suicide of a son) wanting to give back. As Sickles further reports:

In retirement, she said she hopes to get involved in causes to prevent bullying and suicide. She’d also like to help special-needs children.

“I’m not a great speaker … but I would like to try to do something,” Klein said. “Kids write to me and tell me that they’ve been bullied. The kids that get bullied … I hate it.”

In addition, an Associated Press piece (here, via Washington Post) reports that Max Sidorov, the 25-year-old who started the online fund for Klein, has been inspired to do more around the scourge of bullying:

Sidorov said he will soon launch a new drive with a goal of $7 million to combat bullying with counseling, a television series and a nonprofit social media website.

The meaning of the public response

I’m not prepared to call this a “feel good” story, if only because that YouTube video remains such a painful thing to watch. But the public response, suggests the founder of the online fundraising site that collected the donations, shows that people are “fed up with bullies.”

If that’s the case, then it means we’re at a tipping point in our attitudes toward the kind of abuse directed at Karen Klein. We can draw some hope from the aftermath of her ordeal.

2 responses

  1. I’m perfectly okay calling it a “feel-good” story, because people saw others doing something horrible to someone and did something about it. They were willing to part with a little something of their own to try to make a bad thing better for a good lady. Those of us who are sick to death of bullies and violence will take any good feelings we can get that suggest that tipping point you mention.

    In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shooting early this morning, I’ll take any sliver of hope. (Geeks are MY PEOPLE. Geekdom is not without its faults, trust me, but it tended to be safer than a lot of environments…until several hours ago, anyway. Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.)

  2. One thing that seems missed in the whole story is that there was a girl’s voice on the tape. She doesn’t show her face or say anything obviously cruel, but she was part of the bantering. Did she manipulate what was happening? Were the boys trying to impress her? How did the girl escape scrutiny? Should she have?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: