Americans have not only opened their hearts, but also their wallets, to a 68-year-old school bus monitor in New York caught on video being mercilessly verbally abused by four middle-school students.
Nearly half a million dollars have poured in to an Internet-based fund-raising appeal for Karen Klein, whose tears during the abuse are even mocked by the students.
The outpouring for her is awfully kind, and not to be discouraged.
But it’s not enough. Not nearly so.
The students brutalized Klein with acid tongues, the likes of which most of us have never imagined, much less endured. In the video, students from the Greece Central School District, near Rochester, N.Y., repeatedly call her fat and hurl other insults, vulgarities and even threats at her.
“The 10-minute video plays like a reality TV version of Lord of the Flies, writes the Los Angeles Times.
As unpleasant as it is to even read, you need to know what these kids said, in order to understand the depth of their depravity.
As recounted by the Times, “The gray-haired Klein sits mostly silent on the Grace Central School District bus in North Greece, N.Y., as she’s mocked by foul-mouthed 12- and-13-year-olds who repeatedly pelt her with f-bombs, call her fat, poke at her hearing aid and comment about how much she’s sweating.
“As the harassment increases, the boys call her a troll, ask for her address so they can urinate and defecate on her doorstep, and say that if they used a knife to cut her open” ...
Well, we just can’t bring ourselves to type what they said.
In addition, at one point a student tells her, “you don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you.”
Klein did, indeed, suffer through the suicide of a son 10 years ago.
Lord of the Flies indeed.
The Times calls the fund for Klein “a financial indicator of the public’s outrage over the boys’ bullying behavior and a way to collectively apologize to Klein.” And we’re all for it.
But, again, it’s not enough.
First, the boys should be punished as severely as the law allows. The school district was considering whether to suspend them for the entire coming school year. It should.
Second, the parents of those students ought to update the 12 labors of Hercules for their little darlings to perform.
Most important, this incident should spark a new national discussion on civility and parenting.
With the emphasis on the parenting. If there are monumental problems with kids today, it’s more the parents’ fault than the kids’, in many cases. There are large packs of youths who appear to have been raised by wolves – or, worse, by cable television.
There needs to be a renewed emphasis on holding parents accountable for the antisocial actions of their offspring.
Maybe as a society we need to stop rewarding, encouraging and even subsidizing rampant illegitimate procreation, often via multiple and anonymous sperm donors.
Is it even possible to get back to the time when an observant adult could correct an absent parent’s child in public? When did adults stop having one another’s backs? Could we ever bring back the notion of shame?
Let’s not just throw money at this problem.
Let’s put our hearts and souls into fixing this.
Join a parents’ organization – one that supports and spreads good parenting principles, and fights for decency and civility. There are plenty on the Internet. Or start one yourself with your friends.
Demand civility from your schools, your politicians and those around you. Don’t reward degenerate entertainment with either your dollars or your time. Recognize trash and don’t buy it. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Help out at the Boys and Girls Club. Be a mentor in the neighborhood and in the schools.
You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. Be a leader in the movement to restore civility to this society.
You want to do something for Karen Klein and everyone like her? Step up.
That’s as good as gold.