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The Bus Incident

The Bus Incident video has been going around on Rochester Facebooks today. It is HUGE right now, as far as local stories go. I have no idea how far it's reached, or if it's reached outside the city. But I feel like it will be national soon. I hope it will, disgusting as it is to watch.

The Bus Incident is this: a hand-full of teenage boys verbally torment an old woman, Karen Klein, who is the school bus monitor. They made fun of her weight, they made fun of her for crying, and they said she was so ugly that her kids should kill themselves. And her son did kill himself, ten years back, adding that extra sting. The video was shot by one of the kids and put up on YouTube.

Here is the first article of The Bus Incident:
Greece Police Reviewing Bus Monitor Bullying Video
Further reports say this is an isolated incident, while other videos of this woman's torments have popped up, proving that it is NOT as isolated as they thought. The school has said they're waiting til September to decide what they'll do about it (if anything) because it would be pointless to expel them at the last week of school. What pissed me off most, though, is that there are no comments (or even mention) from the parents.

The article has a blurred version of the video, but here is another, straight from YouTube. It's ten minutes long, and I couldn't even get through one minute.

Look at her. She looks like both my grandmothers. She looks like so many grandmothers I've seen. I'll bet she looks like their grandmothers, and I'll bet they'd never talk to their own grannys that way. This video infuriated so many people that someone started a fundraiser to send Karen, the elderly monitor who gets paid under 15k a year to deal with this torment every day, on a well-deserved vacation. In only a few hours, the 5k goal was reached, and right now, the funds raised is almost 100k (and it's still only day one)!!!

The reactions from this video have been pretty mixed, from intelligent discussion, to intelligent attempts, to ridiculous threats to go beat up the kids and harass them by phone (the kids' addresses and phone numbers are posted around the internet, by their own outraged peers).

One comment I've seen that annoyed me was that these kids should be treated like children, because their minds aren't developed enough to fully understand the impact of their actions and words, and treating the kids like criminals in an isolated incident doesn't solve school bullying. REALLY? They are 13 - 15 years old! They're not children, they're teenagers, and need to be reeled in by the law as juviniles. Their minds may be immature, but they are fully fucking aware of how cruel they are, and there's never going to be one incident brought to justice that cures school bullying - I think the array of school shootings has taught us that.

Schools were never trained on how to handle verbal and emotional bullying. The job of a monitor is to grab the ears of the kids starting physical shit and making sure they keep mostly seated. When I was a kid, the bus driver himself stopped the bus and came back to yell at rowdy kids. But no one touched the bullies. My sister and I were tormented by an older kid and no one did anything, so one day, my sister hooked the guy's arms back and I played punching bag with his nuts, and WE got in trouble (worth it, though, because that kid and his buddies never harassed us again). Because sometimes, sadly, the bully needs a real understanding that people are hurt by them, and their victims can stand up to them. Killing them with kindness only gets you called a fag and bullied twice as much. I like the Ender's Game approach: Ender beats the shit out of Stilson, his main bully. And he looks at Stilson's little gang and says, "You might be having some idea of ganging up on me. You could probably beat me up pretty bad. But just remember what I do to people who try to hurt me. From then on, you'd be wondering when I'd get you, and how bad it would be. It wouldn't be this bad. It would be worse." (of course, spoiler alert, this beating actually killed the kid, so best not to go to that extreme.

But it's seeing this shit, this video, and remembering what it was like to be bullied as a kid, that make me feel like I should remain child-free - not because I'm afraid my kids will end up like this, but because they might have to face these kids. I can't understand how kids end up this way - no, I know there are a hundred reasons, but this? You can tell this is just shit-ass parenting; most likely, the parents are the type who don't pay attention to the kids they hang out with, don't bother punishing them (or even scolding them) for misbehaving, let them do whatever they want, and pamper the ever-loving fuck out of them, thinking they could never do anything wrong.

This, in my opinion, is what happens when a nation decides spanking their kids is a form of child abuse. This is what happens when scolding your kids is seen as 'bullying them back'. I won't even discuss grounding a kid to th confines of their tricked-out bedrooms. Nobody's allowed to lay down a good, stern punishment without society shunning them for it, and so kids no longer see their folks (or any adults) as the authority figures, but equals. You treat your kids like equals when they deserve it. Not when they're being brats. You're not their friend, you're their parent!

Bullying is one of the most ancient of troubles, and we are just now trying to raise awareness. We can only hope we'll be able to significantly diminish the problem by the time our kids are old enough for school.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Not only are parents not allowed to punish their child, the teachers aren't allowed to do it either. Way-back-when, if a kid misbehaved or showed disrespect, the teacher was well within his or her rights to slap the kid across the hands or bottom with a ruler. Their parents never blamed the teacher, because they knew if the teacher hit their child the child DESERVED IT and was being punished in his parent's place. Nowadays parents not only treat their children like little kings and queens (c'mon, does a 10 year old really need a cell phone???), their little angels can do no wrong, grade or behavior wise, and the teachers are harassed by the parents for "mistreating" the kids! Melissa's brother and sister are a prime example. Her mother and father are too busy trying to please them and be their friend, so they have absolutely no manners and do pretty much whatever they want, including drugs. And even if you have a child and raise him decent, the other kids will either turn him horrible or will turn him into the target instead.

Fuck the world.
Jun. 21st, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
And sorry my last comment came through as anonymous, don't know if it posted or not
Jun. 21st, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
fact check?
Lots of thoughts to this blog entry, but my first is, have you fact-checked? "13-15 years old"?? In Middle school? Most middle school kids (especially in a wealthy suburban district) are 10-13 years old. The news has reported they were 12-13. Age does not excuse bad behavior, but it's important to keep it in context.

As a result of global outcry, teachers from the school completely unrelated to the incident have been getting vile, vicious emails from around the world. Others are now being harassed and bullied by other adults. Perspective. Kids bullied a woman on the bus. This happens in buses, schools and rec centers EVERYWHERE and constantly. My full-time job used to be coordinating anti-bullying training sessions in the city school district, and I heard the horror stories. This is a systematic problem. Trying to determine appropriate consequences and trashing kids who are one small part of a larger problem won't solve anything. Embarrassing them won't help. Advocating more inclusive training for staff to appropriately stop behaviors before they get to this extent would be more helpful. Training IS effective. Bullying in return is not.

- Courtney
Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Re: fact check?
Right, the first article I read had an older crowd, so TEN to fifteen year olds (on the whole bus, I guess, not just the kids in question- if it is like many other districts, the middle and high school kids share the same bus).
OF COURSE THIS HAPPENS EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. That's what makes this infuriating, not shocking. No one is shocked that this happened. But this one's documented. This one can be proved with more than just a verbal complaint with nothing to back it up.
And, sorry, but I cannot stand the term "bullying back". Bullying is uncalled-for, unprovoked teasing, taunting, tormenting (etc) to someone who does not deserve it. "Bullying back"? That's defending yourself. If you can spout out one crippling comment that will stun your enemy (and if you are being bullied, your bully is your enemy, no matter how you want to sugar coat it), then you should use it!
I'm not trashing the kids involved. They ARE brats. I doubt anyone's going to ask me to fact check that. And yes, they are one small part, but if you want to change the world, you gotta start locally. Embarrassing them may help. It may ensure they won't do it again, because now that they've been caught, now that the world's against them, they won't dare put another foot out of line. They've become an example, which is how kids learn, remember?
There is no such thing as bullying in return, only retaliation. If someone actually is bullying a bully, they are doing it for fun and for no reason, and are no better than the bully.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )