Rude Children and Real Humans – Meet Karen the Bus Monitor

karen huff kleinLet me just share with you what would have happened if I had ever told an adult that they had “an ugly, fat ass” when I was a kid.

First: I probably would have woken up a week later with a sore ass and serious headache after having the daylights beat out and sense beat into me by one, or possibly both, parents.

Secondly: I would have been grounded. The term might have ranged from the duration of summer vacation to eternity. You can’t argue with the executive (and relatively arbitrary) decision making powers of parental units.

Finally: I never (ever) would have done it again. I remember an incident where I called my mom a bitch and that’s not one I’m likely to ever forget OR repeat (even 22 years later).

Why is this important?

Because yesterday afternoon, I stumbled on a story on Huffington Post that ripped my heart out. It goes something like this:

Karen Huff Klein is a 68-year-old widow who works as a bus monitor in Greece, New York for a paltry $15,000 per year. A student captured some other students verbally assaulting her on his camera phone, recording the whole thing and posting it on YouTube. Here’s where I interject that my mom’s name is Karen and she used to drive a school bus. Possibly neither here not there, but when I see the woman in the video cry, I think about my mom and what I would do to any shitty little misbehaving miscreant who would dare say anything to her that would make her cry.

Well, here’s the power of an equation that includes an elderly bus monitor and rude children: it ferrets out the real humans in our world.

Someone decided to setup an IndieGoGo campaign to raise a little money so Karen the Bus Monitor could take a vacation away from these pathetic and unappreciative pre-adult specimens. They figured $5,000 would do the trick.

When I contributed last night, the campaign had already raised $60,000. This morning (as of this writing), the campaign is up to over $170,000. You can learn about the campaign and make a contribution here.

I think Karen is done being a bus monitor.

So here’s where I wrap this up with a few thoughts:

  • If you’re able to watch that entire video without getting sick, your Humanity Meter needs recalibration.
  • If you’re a parent, schools aren’t foster parents or daycare centers. Start raising your fucking kids. Stop being their FRIEND and start setting limits.
  • If you’re a school administrator or teacher, bus driver, teacher’s aide…stop taking shit from kids. Stop it. Just fucking stop it. You’re not responsible for raising these kids, but you can demand the respect you deserve for doing one of the most admirable jobs in the world.
  • Let’s think about when we started letting kids act like little assholes and when they stopped being told the importance of respecting their elders. I’m not yet blessed with being a parent, but here’s what I know will happen when that day comes. I will love that child, for better and worse. I will do my best to teach him right from wrong — praising when right and dispensing discipline when the wrongs warrant. I’ll try to not sweat the small stuff, but if he fucks up royally, he’ll know it and never have to wonder. And I will raise him to show the grace of Karen Huff Klein when faced with the evils that our fellow humans can dish out. I will remind him often that everyone deserves respect and that the greatest gift he’ll ever give himself is to be humble and learn from those who have walked this world longer than he has. Most importantly, he will never doubt who his mother is, that I love him, and when life warrants, I will still beat his ass when he’s is 57 if he acts like an asshole.
Real people rise to worthy causes. And yeah, this isn’t a tech startup, but it’s a story that can change the way children are expected to behave towards elders. It’s a lesson for any business that demonstrates that ideas aren’t enough to make things happen — people have to act to affect change. And when a story — like this one — hits home, there’s no end to the human goodness that will gather behind the story to propel it into the limelight so that other people can lend their support as well.



***I wrote a letter to the school principal — you can read it here.

54 comments
Danny
Danny

hello red update on kids consequences...all were suspended for 1 year not enough but meh! all are banned from bus service forever this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable by children and yet it continues to go on and on...i am sad and scared of the world we are creating with raising children like this i have 4 and they know the hand of GOD (read daddy) will strike them down in an instant if they ever treat other people like what these kids did...i will put up with bad moods occasionally and deal with tiffs amongst each other but if they ever insulted or berated an adult like these kids...their short lives would be fodder for a really sad greek tragedy to be written by me thanks for the link, i have heard the story but not followed it, i gave some $ to the fund i am so elated that they are up to almost $1,000,000 for her  we sure love to help we still have a chance to save the world danny

Caitlin Flint
Caitlin Flint

Heck yes.  I finally got around to reading this blog today (it's been in my inbox for a week while I was out of the office) and it was worth the wait.  I agree with the other comments about not liking kids, and this is one of the reasons why.  Too many people today are afraid to discipline their children, always using some excuse or another.  "I don't want to be too harsh, he/she is just a child, she's just acting out but she'll grow out of it, he's just expressing himself," etc.  And when poor behavior IS acknowledged the reprimand is so mild and ineffectual that the kid is back to the bad behavior in less than five seconds.  There's nothing more irritating than being in a restaurant listening to a mother tell her screaming child "No, Johnny, that's not nice.  Please use your inside voice.  You don't want to disturb anyone else."  You don't need to reason with your kid--provide a straight action/consequence ultimatum.  "Stop doing x, or y will happen."  And then follow through.  If you never follow through, the lesson is never learned.  All that's learned is that the kid can get away with murder (figuratively speaking, of course)...or with making a poor woman cry while doing her job. So I say HECK YES to this post.  Maybe with more people standing up and saying "RAISE YOUR KIDS PROPERLY" we'll finally see some change.

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

Insane. How can parents let their kids do that to someone. Raise your fucking kids indeed.  But this, this goes beyond raising your kids IMO... there is something deeper at work if the kids think this is OK.

Rachel Duhon
Rachel Duhon

Wow Erika! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing post! I'm a teacher and I was appalled at what I saw. This is common behavior in schools but never on my watch. I feel for educators who aren't as aggressive but why should they have to be? I would be completely ashamed to be the donors of those pieces of shit kids. They know how to behave. They just choose not to. It's funny because no one really talks about adults in the school getting bullied as well as the kids. I'm really glad that people have raised for this woman because she deserves a break. Your letter was great. Keep up the awesome work. I'm reading your book soon! 

annoyed-teen
annoyed-teen

Today teens and even elementary and middle school kids are getting to be more and more disrespectful toward the authoritative figures. This happens because those people with authority act more like friends than anything else to the kids. I know that i have been raised the right way and my mother would never tolerate if I did that. But these things really need to stop, and the only way that we as a society can do that is by standing up for those who are bullied and speaking out when it is most necessary. 

Christina Pappas
Christina Pappas

This is so gross! I dont know how she kept her cool and I heard on the news last night that she isnt taking action. I get it. Your post and watching this video made me recall one day in junior high. A couple girls in my class thought it would be funny to tape pieces of paper to their nose ad say they were me with my big nose (which I have now grown into). I didnt know what to do. I was trapped in class and couldnt leave. And the more I cried, the more I was encouraging them. They didnt care. Didnt have a thought in the world about how it felt to be on the other side. My brother has a son who is 2. My mom likes to say he is still young so he is allowed to be wild but Im worried (and so is my grandmother). He is wild beyond anything I have ever seen. He takes what he wants and breaks it if he wants. He yells at me that he doesnt like me when I did nothing. On his birthday, he hurled his friend down the slide and laughed about it, then got mad because everyone was paying attention to his friend to see if he was ok. I grew up in a very strict household and I had my fair share of acting up but man o man if I pulled a move like this - well, I wont even go there because I wouldnt dare!

Judy
Judy

One of the boys father was quoted on tv as thinking his son had been punished enough by having his face on YouTube. Baloney. If he was mine his face would be unrecognizable after I finished punishment. Sound harsh? Maybe I wouldn't have hit his face but his ass would be in terrible shape. Solitary confinement next for life. His father is a real problem in our society. Thank u for your story. I saw the video and cried.

arpedkedarki
arpedkedarki

That the bus driver didn't stop the bus and call a halt to the action makes me wonder if this isn't a hoax/scam.  (You're a wicked smart redhead, so I'm assuming you sussed it out before suggesting that your readers donate.  I'm about to do just that, so I'm hoping that my assumption doesn't, you know...) Either way, kids ARE poorly behaved, especially in group formation.  I, for one, believe it has a great deal to do with what they're eating, along with insufficient parenting.  I was at my local farmers market yesterday and noticed that the kids there not only looked well (thin, bright eyes, shiny faces), but they were all calm and well-mannered.  It's all connected, fo shiz.  I've received your newsletter for some time now - it's one of the very few from which I have unsubscribed.  You da bomb.

John Trader
John Trader

I don't have anything to say even remotely as intelligent of some of the people on this comment string. All I can say is that this is the generation that is slated to take care of me and the rest of my brethren when I am old, frail, and unable to take care of myself. Erika, I think your community has covered all of the bases on how some parents just flat out suck and don't give a rat's ass about their children. What I am left wondering is what can we do beyond a monetary contribution? How can someone like me, with no kids but a vested interest in the good of our society make a difference in the lives of these kids? Is it too late to save them at this age? I'm so confused and distraught about all of this.   

Sevakandi
Sevakandi

Indeed, Erika. But what do you want to bet that instead of demanding that parents step up and take responsibility for teaching their kids manners, the local/state/federal authorities will want to create still another law to mandate behavior that used to be taken for granted among civilized folk? This sounds like still another opportunity for some politician to seize the camera and bloviate about what he/she intends to do to put a stop to this. I too, remember what would have happened to us if my parents had ever caught us treating people so disrespectfully.

kate
kate

Mom comment:  I taught my kids that it is not only horrible and cowardly to bully, they should never stand by and watch it either.  Due to this radical teaching, my son's principal tried to suspend him.  His crime: He shoved a much larger kid off of a disabled kid, took a punch and then returned said punch.  The disabled kid had been knocked out of his wheel chair and had the larger kid's foot on his chest when the entire altercation began.  The disabled kid was also on a respirator.  None of the details of this were in dispute, but the principal maintained that my son should have told a teacher rather than intervene.  My point was that, clearly, there was no teacher watching these kids on the playground or this wouldn't have happened.  In the end, I threatened to raise holy hell and go to the local news (the child who was attacked could not talk and tell his own story), and the principal agreed to let my son off the hook.   My point:  WHY do schools suspend the bully AND the child defending him/herself or another child???  This policy is STUPID!  A bully SHOULD take a punch when they deserve it!  There is always someone bigger or braver than you.  That's a lesson that should be learned.  I was very proud that my son took on a much larger boy to defend someone who could defend himself.  And, P.S., I'm a teacher.

M'ris
M'ris

I can't even follow this story, because the whole damn thing is deeply triggering. I just hope that the school system is using this as a teaching opportunity (for the parents, for the staff, for the kids) about bullying, and not just disciplining the kids from the video. Don't get me wrong, I agree that there's a fundamental "when did we start letting kids do whatever the fuck they want" issue somewhere at hand here, but bullying doesn't just go away without intervention and education. I really hope there's room for learning and growth in all of this. =/

courtneyorourke
courtneyorourke

This deeply saddens me.  Thank you for sharing this. Where are the parents in all of this mess?  My mother wasn't very big on rules, but the most simple of all that's missing in today's youth is, as Karen Huff Klein said:  If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say it at all. If me, or my siblings ever muttered anything pissy about someone, her response was always: "Well they always speak so highly of YOU" Simple manners cannot be modernized. I am not a parent, and will never know the challenges with raising a human, yet there is no excuse for instilling even the most simple of manners, and common decency. 

faithchoyce
faithchoyce

A friend of mine always says "raising kids" is different than "not letting them die". Those fuckers need to be raised. +1 for human beings on the IndieGoGo thing though, that's pretty amazing.

Cofader1
Cofader1

As the mother of a 23 yr old on her second Masters (free from DU btw on fellowship), and an 11 year old who recently told the nurse giving him pain meds so they could reset his shattered arm "thank you, I'm really grateful"... WHO ARE THESE PARENTS?  Thank you for writing the letter to the principal, wish you could have signed it on behalf of all of us with children who know better. 

Jenni
Jenni

This post is awesome.  I am not a parent, but I recently have had two wonderful girls brought into my life and home by my boyfriend. I find myself angry and amazed by how some of their friends behave. Even in sports they sugar coat things. They do not play by all the rules. They let the kids stand nearly out of the batters box during softball  because they swing too early rather than teach them proper timing. Why? They wouldn't want to hurt the kid's feeling by correcting her. The part that may bug me the most is while his ex wife and her husband and we try to raise the girls right, they learn this abhorrent behavior from their friends (and the Disney Channel...and Nickelodeon).

Kathy Moore
Kathy Moore

This happened in a suburb of Rochester, NY, where I live, and I'm appalled to think that there are kids like this in my city.  I hope they are in the minority.  But I know that peer pressure among adolescent boys can really bring out the worst in them. What would you have done if you were Karen?  She was probably instructed not to respond to kids with anger or retaliate in any way to provocation because the administration feared lawsuits.   I have to admit that I couldn't watch the whole thing.  But I did see at one point that she pulled out a tiny pen knife and sort of flashed it at those boys.  Part of me (the really primal part that's well-controlled in real life, thank god) hoped that at the end of the video Karen pulled out a handgun and blew them all away.  Did I just say that?  I'm non-violent!!  But this is the kind of thing that really pushes my buttons. I'll look forward to hearing what the Greece school district decides to do about these boys -- who I dearly hope are absolutely mortified to see themselves in this video (but they're probably not, they probably think it's cool to be "famous").

dsobkowiak
dsobkowiak

I'm just blow away by that video. Disgusted is only scratching the surface. Growing up I never would have had the gall to act that way toward an adult, at least if I expected to live to see the next day.

Bldtraveler
Bldtraveler

Couldn't even get past the first minute of the video!  The contibutions are over $286,000.  Just amazing!   Thank you for sharing Erika!

Alexa
Alexa

So last year my son entered kindergarten. I had my concerns because of the "neighborhood." I had a need to call the school today and the principal picked up the phone. We chatted. And I got all teary-eyed when I thanked him for exceeding my expectations. You see the kids at this school are a mixed bag. My kid's not perfect, but I feared he'd fall under the wrong influences. But you know what? That school and that principal doesn't tolerate $%^#. The school motto. BE SAFE, RESPECTFUL and RESPONSIBLE. This school tested above the national average in the district and country. You'd look at the hood and go huh? It's been the proof I needed in what giving children boundaries can do (AND THAT STARTS AT HOME). What calling them out can do. And by doing so there are far-reaching effects. They are succeeding, excelling. My kid knows there are boundaries, just as any self-respecting business or teacher or bus monitor should know there are boundaries. Actually, I've been watching back episodes of The Dog Whisperer. So many of the same techniques can be applied to kids and adults, ha! But I diverge. I called my mom something foul on mothers day when I was 3 (didn't even know what it meant) and my mom's roommate hauled me off to the bathroom and in went the soap. I remember it to this day, but I think I turned out okay.

Jf
Jf

Woohoo! You go girl. Let's take up the cry 'BE A PARENT' ~ we are not meant to be friends with our kids, not until they turn into adults. We are here to guide them and sometimes that's being unpopular with them. Love this Erika and am sharing.

Bradley
Bradley

" If you’re a school administrator or teacher, bus driver, teacher’s aide…stop taking shit from kids. Stop it. Just fucking stop it. You’re not responsible for raising these kids, but you can demand the respect you deserve for doing one of the most admirable jobs in the world." This isn't always as easy as it seems. At least not from a teacher's perspective in small town SC. My brother is/was a teacher at a local middle school. If your administration doesn't back you up, you will never get respect because discipline can never be dished out. He couldn't even make them sit in the corner or any of that kind of stuff because you can't single out kids anymore, at least not around here. Some PC bullshit or another. I don't remember the exact explanation my brother gave. The principal/vice principal/any other administrator wouldn't deal with them for what ever reason. And went as far as to say it was my brother's fault that the kids acted out inappropriately on at least one occasion. The shitty parents sure as hell wouldn't do anything. If they did show up for a parent/teacher conference, they only pointed their fingers at him. Never at their shit head little brat/juvenile fucking delinquent. The only option left was to quit. And he did.  I think my brother is a good teacher. I think the school is worse for having lost him, but I think he is worthy of respect or at least closed mouths and toleration during class time. As are all teachers.  Thanks for shedding light on this. We as a nation need to get behind reinforcing our school officials instead of tearing them down. I hate that this lady had to tolerate the verbal abuse, and I hope she enjoys her vacation and the kids are dealt with appropriately.

thetravelchica
thetravelchica

Wow!  This story points out some serious flaws in society, but luckily it also shows there is still a chance to save it.

Angela Mondor
Angela Mondor

I agree 100%! I am proud of my children and I am grateful that we raised them to respect everyone and not just their elders. I was bullied as a  child and I have shared those experiences with my children and I have taught them how to "not be a bystander" I am also proud that my youngest daughter's school has taken a huge stand on the issue and they have a don't be a bystander program. My daughter has used the program to stop cyber bullying that was occurring in the school, and she and her friends made a video for a class project that will be used in the campaigns as well. It is so important that parents teach children how to behave (unfortunately those that were bullies when we were kids are probably raising the bullies that not only us but our children are dealing with.) It is also important that our principals and other administrators take a stand against it and help to empower those who are choosing to rise up and stand up to the bullies. Our principal is also on twitter @principalmead:twitter I congratulate him for all the work he is doing with our children and I hope more principals follow his lead!

LeahGG
LeahGG

OMG, I think if I were the parents, I'd be so mortified, I'd probably send my kids to one of those military camps for the summer just so that I wouldn't have to look at them for the summer... by the end of the summer, I might be able to think of something reasonable to say or do to my kid that was legal.

Ed Mahoney
Ed Mahoney

I don't find parenting all that hard really.  But at the end of the day, kids follow their parent's example of how they treat other adults, not just how their parents treat them.  The same way bad dogs are more a result of their owners than their breed.  Clearly I agree and like your post.  Parents need to be better for us to have better kids.

Joanna Saunders
Joanna Saunders

Great article Erika,  I am a Mum who was not friends with her kids.  (They are now 40, 37 and 32)  We got along, had fun but they knew I was their mother not their friend.  My oldest son has raised his daughters differently.  They have been spoiled from day one and both ranaway at 14 because they didn't get what they wanted.  They are irresponsible, thankless brats.  My other kids are raising their kids as they were raised. They are great kids.  Kind, caring, responsible. My oldest son commented the other day..."I gave them everything because I didn't have everything and I had to work for things, I quess I was wrong."  A perfect example of what happens when parents stop being parents and try to be friends.

beckyblanton
beckyblanton

Unfortunately ANY action any adult takes against a kid, other than Jerry Sandusky of course, will get them fired. In a society that no longer values God, morals and family, we're just going to see more and more of this - or worse. I think the bus driver should have stopped the bus and called the parents and told them (1) they could come pick up their child there, or (2) they could pick them up at the police department, juvie division where older teens are more likely to force them into unnatural sex acts before the parents actually arrive or (3) they could approve the driver just leaving their sorry butt's right there on the curb to figure transportation out for themselves.... You can't instill respect in a child if they get no respect at home. There has to be consistency.

n.c.
n.c.

omg, i couldn't even finish that video, i am a school bus driver, and i personally think that that bus driver was in the wrong for not STOPPING that bus...calling admit and having the police come and take those little bastards off that bus, that was harrasment in the most cruel way, first, she's an adult, second, she's a senior citizen. If those were my kids...no, i have to take that back, because i would NEVER ALLOW that to even start on my bus. I really hope these kids get something besides...kicked out of school, they should put them in juvy for a while and have some BIGGER kids teach them...WATZ UP!!! sincerely, n.c.bus driver.

Ellen Berg
Ellen Berg

I think the only rule we really need to have and enforce is Don't be a Douchebag.  As a teacher, I see more and more parents trying to excuse their child's bad behaviors and keep them from suffering the consequences of their actions, as if it will make their little snowflakes melt away.  However, what I know from my own experiences and the way I hold kids accountable in my classroom is that kids get stronger, smarter and tougher when they're held to a standard, whether it's for behavior or academics.  We do no favors by setting the bar lower. Oh, and I once called my mother a bitch too, and the result was the SMACK heard 'round the world.  Didn't need to learn that lesson twice.

Lou
Lou

Respect for your elders IMMEDIATELY came to mind.  What the FUCK made these kids think COULD speak to that woman like that in the first place.  I was twitching watching this.  If my son or daughter EVER treated someone like this you can bet it would be the last time they did. We've ended up in world where we're so worried about the "rights" assholes we've forgotten about the rights of decent people.  I could list the factors that would have made this story more than an viral video and one where major news organizations reported this and there were marches but I don't want to derail this. The children in this video are literally bad people.  They may change, the might get worse.  How did they get there though?  What horrendous pack mentality made these cowards think this was acceptable behavior?  What lapse in upbringing did not make them immediately come to this woman's rescue?  I know I'm probably "that dad" who brags about his kids too much, but my son would not have let this go on without screaming at the dirtbags taunting this woman.  Where is that kid on this bus (is the one videoing?)

red_pen_mama
red_pen_mama

I am really curious about what DID happen to these kids. Because when I first starting hearing about the story (and I have not watched the video, because I know it would upset me beyond reason), I IMMEDIATELY thought about the parents. You can bet that if these children are cruel, cruel enough to do this to another human being with no justification, you're not looking a parents who are much better. And I say this as a parent. My children will NEVER act like this is public in the first place (dear God, I hope and pray) because I will have taught them that regardless of looks, money, or profession, people (especially adults) deserve respect. Full stop.

Kathy
Kathy

 What's even scarier?  When you don't have parents that can teach you those things, you can't parent your own kids.  Many of these are second generation (or third) that don't know how to parent or what boundaries and expectations to set.  God help us in the future!

Doyle Albee
Doyle Albee

I was a volunteer hockey coach for years. I wouldn't trade that time for anything, but kids can be -- shall we say -- trying. Bottom line: this cannot be tolerated, and it needs to come from all levels. I was known to excuse kids from my bench during games for not listening, being rude to teammates, etc. After the incident, the coaches and I would calmly explain to the parent what happened and give a simply choice: assure us we have your backing that it won't be repeated, or we'll help you find a spot for your son on another team. Funny, no one left the team and we had precisely zero repeat offenders. We had one rule on our team: respect the game. If you do that, you simply cannot insult a teammate, yell at an official or argue with a coach. None of those things show respect. Just imagine if that rule was in place here. It should be in place everywhere.

JackieDotson
JackieDotson

"If you’re a parent, schools aren’t foster parents or daycare centers. Start raising your fucking kids. Stop being their FRIEND and start setting limits." AMEN sistah, a big fat AMEN (and I am a heathen!) People wonder why I dislike children. I flat out do not enjoy being around them, and this is a HUGE reason why (the other reason being, simply, they're just not my thing). If I ever did/said anything remotely close to what these kids said/did to this bus lady, I too, would have been, as my grandfather used to say, knocked into the middle of next week.  When did we stop teaching our kids to respect other humans? Certainly not when I was a kid, because I really think my parents would have killed me I did this.

Rob Dearmon
Rob Dearmon

Can I get an amen?  Thank you, Erika!   I was beginning to think I was the only one left that had parents who would never tolerate disrespect to adults.  I think that we started going downhill when: 1.  We started marginalizing the importance of fathers.  (I understand that there are some amazing single family homes 2.  Parents started treating children as equals. 3.  

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  1. […] of my favorite bloggers, Erika from Redhead Writing, just touched on similar topic, approaching it from parental/child rearing standpoint. Her post was […]

  2. […] for this on Karen the Bus Monitor  (as of this writing, over $600,000 […]