Online video of NY bullying stirs passion, anger - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Online video of NY bullying stirs passion, anger

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Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012 11:30 am

A video of four seventh-grade boys mercilessly taunting a 68-year-old bus monitor in New York state that went viral has turned the victim into an international fundraising juggernaut and opened her tormentors to an onslaught of threats and abuse.

From around the world, small donations for Karen Klein poured into the crowd-funding site, at one point crashing the site and pulling in a staggering $443,057 by early Friday.

At the same time, police in the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., were stepping up patrols around the houses of the middle-schoolers accused of taunting her. Police didn't name the boys but their purported identities leaked out on the Web.

Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton was compelled to warn against vigilante justice. One boy received more than a thousand death threats and commenters online were clear — and sometimes venomous — in their desire that the boys be severely punished.

"A threat for a threat does not make the situation better," Chatterton said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The verbal abuse was captured in a 10-minute cellphone video recorded Monday by a student of Athena Middle School and later posted to YouTube. The video shows Klein trying her best to ignore the stream of profanity, insults and outright threats. One student taunted: "You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you."

Klein's oldest son killed himself 10 years ago.

Eventually, she appears to break down in tears.



The swell of support for Klein follows a recent surge in awareness of bullying that has brought the issue from the classroom to the stage and screen to the White House. Bullying expert Stephen Birchak, a professor of counseling at Albany's College of Saint Rose, said the enormous flow of money for Klein is no surprise given the shame we feel as a society over the incident.

The stickier question is: How could the students be so cruel?

Birchak noted that the kids are growing up in a world of harsh political debates and reality TV shows in which berating people is part of the entertainment. Meanwhile, taking videos of people in humiliating situations and sharing the images has become all too normal among many adolescents, "Kids are growing up saying, 'OK, this is how you treat your fellow human being and it's OK to do those things,'" he said.

Police said Klein does not want the boys to face criminal charges, partly because of the storm of criticism leveled at them.

Klein told NBC's "Today" show Thursday that it took "a lot of willpower" not to respond to the jeers from the four boys riding the bus operated by the Greece Central School District. Klein said she was "amazed" at the support she received.

"I've got these nice letters, emails, Facebook messages," she said. "It's like, wow, there's a whole world out there that I didn't know. It's really awesome."

Klein did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The fundraiser flew past its goal of $5,000, initially designed to send the grandmother of eight on a "vacation of a lifetime." Some 20,875 people had donated by early Friday, many in denominations of $20 or less.

"You want to jump into that bus and you want to grab those kids and say 'Knock it off!' And you want to hold her," said Amy Weber, a 43-year-old independent filmmaker from the Detroit area who pledged $100.

"I think we hear about bullying every day and we become a little desensitized to it. This puts it in our face" said Weber, who is making a feature film about a bully.

Slava Rubin, Indiegogo's chief executive officer and co-founder, called the outpouring "an incredible campaign."

"We're seeing good Samaritans come together to support this brave woman, and we hope that this campaign contributes positively to the important national discussion about bullying," Rubin said in a prepared statement.

The boys had not yet apologized to Klein as of Thursday afternoon, though police said they regretted their acts. The district will pursue disciplinary actions against all four students.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • cococo posted at 11:24 am on Mon, Jun 25, 2012.

    cococo Posts: 144

    "CHSdad"......F U. If you feel that is just "obnoxious" behavior, you have your head so far up your backside it's pathetic. "Not my kids" probably comes out of your mouth every time somebody points at your rodents. WAKE UP.

  • CHSdad posted at 6:49 pm on Fri, Jun 22, 2012.

    CHSdad Posts: 369

    mister d, so true. Look at the behavior of adults now, stomping their feet and throwing hissy fits every time they don't get their way.

  • mister d posted at 5:22 pm on Fri, Jun 22, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Parents -- do your jobs ! The lack of decent parenting now a days is sad.

  • searcher posted at 2:06 pm on Fri, Jun 22, 2012.

    searcher Posts: 365

    It's nice that so many people were touched by the cruelty against Mrs. Klein, but wouldn't be nice if someone taught these miscreants manners and respect.

  • CHSdad posted at 12:50 pm on Fri, Jun 22, 2012.

    CHSdad Posts: 369

    A thousand death threats. Good grief. The kids were obnoxious, but there are a 1000 people with no sense of proportion. Even a bar of soap seems unnecessary after this lesson. I am happy to see though that there are plenty of people with enough compassion to try to help Mrs Klein, with in excess of $400,000 raised for her vacation. Now that's going to be some party time.

  • heatherfeather posted at 12:05 pm on Fri, Jun 22, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    A thousand death threats. Good. Hopefully the little rats can't sleep and night and wet their little selves every time a firecracker goes off.

    When the police patrols dissipate, and they will, it would be so nice if someone forced one of these little deviants to eat a bar of soap.

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