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Reaction to the video of the bullied bus monitor

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Yesterday's story about Karen Klein, the New York bus monitor who endured verbal abuse from teenage bullies on her bus, is the most viewed story on today. And today's follow-up on the online campaign to raise money for her is the second most viewed.

There are hundreds of comments on the stories, many placing blame on the students' behaviour on permissive parenting, lack of discipline in schools, the wane of spanking as punishment, Hollywood, television, the "Me" generation, or Klein herself.

Among these comments a few did stand out for us. Here are a couple of posts from teachers.

  • "I'm a high school teacher with 15 years experience who has being watching behaviour get worse with each passing year. When I was in school, if I dared to tell a teacher to "suck my d***", my father would have taught me about respect in a way that would have made Rocky Balboa's beatings look like spa treatments. But the kid who told me to do that got a five-day vacation. When all was said and done, I never even got an apology. My question is what is the school board doing about this incident? If the police aren't willing to charge these kids with harassment, then the school board should look at lengthy suspensions, if not expulsions. Otherwise, they send the message that this type of behaviour is acceptable," said darkestcanuck.

  • "I am under 30, a high school teacher and this generation scares me. Yes it is true that every generation thinks the younger generation's behaviour is worse than theirs. However, these young people are going through a very fast moving technological change. With cell phones and social media, bullying can be very silent. A student could be bullied in my class via cell phone and I would not know unless the student came forward. It is moving so quickly that we, the adults, can't keep up and social rules for the technology are not being developed. This should be taken as a reminder of the importance of teaching kids kindness and consideration," said wideopenspaces.

Commenters disagreed on the role of schools to teach these morals to young people.

  • "How do we teach intrinsic goodness? Do we need to start teaching a social skills class? We do it for our students with special needs. Maybe it is time for all students. Unfortunately, I don't think a one semester class would be enough," said millefleur.

  • "I do not think we should have religion in schools, but I do think we need to have some sort of morals class to replace the moral aspect of religion that was taken out with it. If we could just teach our kids to be more compassionate I think it would go a long way. Service learning experiences should be part of the curriculum from the youngest to oldest age. It would give kids the chance to connect with real people and actually develop their capacity for compassion, rather than us just telling them that they SHOULD feel compassion because we said so," said CaseyLeigh444.

  • "You can't leave it up to school teachers to teach everything. They're already trying to teach basic education to creeps like these. They don't have time or magic wands. Teaching good behaviour is the responsibility of parents and family. When parents can't handle their own children, you know there's going to be problems with the kid. The fact that they said those things about her family wanting to get away and killing themselves, means they knew of her family tragedy, and meant to hurt her deeply," said SilverSummit.

And CBC Community member Agitation Free called for compassion from all involved in the incident.

"Ms. Klein really deserves a mountain of credit for her reaction to this. Whereas a lot of people would be out for blood, she doesn't want the kids to get charged because she cares about their future and she's said that she only wants them to learn a lesson and be more respectful. I wouldn't have responded nearly as well and I'm sure that a lot of people here, if not most, can say the same.

"That said, people need to stop talking about how these kids should be left to the mercy of mob justice from the internet. Ms. Klein clearly doesn't want that to happen based on what she's said about them. Imagine how she'd react if one of those death threats turned out to be serious and someone ended up injured or worse over this. Do you think she'd be happy? I seriously doubt it.

"Anyway, I hope that Ms. Klein enjoys her well-deserved vacation and retirement! Nobody deserves to be dealing with buses full of middle schoolers every day at the age of 68 unless they damn well want to, and especially after an experience like that, I don't blame her at all for being done with the job."

A comment from  ISlater had a low rating (more thumbs down than up), but we think it has some interesting things to say about the way bullying is dealt with.

"What these kids did was terrible.

"I'm in my late 30's, and I would never have dreamt of speaking like that to an adult, especially one in a position of authority. I was taught that children respect adults.

"Were they disrespectful? Yes. Were they bullies? Yes. Did they act morally? No. Did they commit a criminal act? Not until they physically poked her.

"I'm probably one the minority that doesn't believe that verbal bullying should be dealt with by the justice system.

"Should bullying be tolerated? Of course not. Obviously verbal (including written/electronic) bullying is wrong. But I don't think it is criminal. Nor do I think it should be.

"Maybe I'm part of the minority... being a mixed minority who grew up in an area which was 95% white, but I was bullied as a child. Not only was I a minority, but I was awfully small for my age. What being bullied taught me, was not to tolerate it. I learned to stand up for myself, and for those that needed help. For that, I think I was respected by all the cliques

"What are we teaching our children by censoring their interactions with each other; by taking care of their social problems for them? Are we teaching them that they have freedom of speech just so long as nobody's feelings are hurt? Are we failing to teach them how to resolve their own problems?

"Maybe it's just me... but it seems this generation which seems so callous, also seems so sensitive.

"We need to teach our children how to behave as moral adults. They need to know that people are not always going to like them, nor have good things to say... and how to deal with that. We need to teach our children empathy, not make criminals of them."

Thank you, as always, for following our coverage. Please feel free to comment on or challenge any of these points and continue the conversation below.

Tags: Community, Community Reaction

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