The outpouring of emotion and cash in the case of bullied bus monitor Karen Klein may be peaking. Nearly half a million dollars have been raised for her “vacation” fund, she’s appeared on “Anderson Cooper,” and some U.S. Marines have created a video to show their support.
The video from Marines at Fort Meade in Maryland declares the corps’ intolerance for hazing and bullying and gives the 68-year-old grandmother, the recent target of abuse by students in upstate New York, a heartfelt “Oorah!”
The video of Klein being taunted on a schoolbus went viral, drawing millions of views.
The social-media fundraising effort for Klein, which rolled out on the Indiegogo website, has 29 days left in which to accept contributions. The fund had reached $491,186 as of 8:15 a.m. Friday. The goal of $5,000 was left in the dust soon after the campaign was launched.
The students who made the comments have been heaped with scorn -- on social media, among celebrities (Ryan Seacrest tweeted “no one should have to endure something like this”) and in mainstream media.
The New York Daily News referred to statements of apology from two of the children, released through police, as “lukewarm.”
Here are the apologies from two of the four kids:
“I am so sorry for the way I treated you. When I saw that video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that.”
“I feel really bad about what I did. I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at the people who did that to them.”
Some on social media have been tempered in their comments; others are demanding immediate punishment, castigating the kids’ parents as well as the school district.
Athena Middle School in Greece, N.Y., has responded with a statement saying, essentially, that angry parties cannot ride the kids out of town on a rail.
“Discipline for public school students in New York state is handled under specific procedures set forth in the New York education law. In the event that a district is seeking a suspension of more than five days, the district must prove the student’s violation of its code of conduct in a due process hearing before a hearing officer. If the student is found guilty, the hearing officer makes a recommendation for an appropriate period of suspension to the superintendent of schools. Each case is determined based upon the actions engaged in by the student as well as consideration of a student’s prior disciplinary record.”
One parenting expert told the Los Angeles Times that punishing the kids would not be the best approach.
Jane Nelson, co-author of two dozen parenting books including the “Positive Discipline” series, said that yelling, shaming, hitting, grounding and other forms of punishment would be counterproductive.
“I think to go after these kids in a punitive way, it just doesn’t help,” she said.
Many would disagree. But Klein, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, said she didn’t believe the kids were bad “deep down.” She did say she’d like them suspended from riding the school bus and from sports for at least a year.
Klein was skeptical about whether she’d ever actually receive the huge pot of money from the current fundraiser. She said it just seemed “too good to be true.”
Finally, Cooper popped the surprise that Southwest Airlines was going to pay for her and nine of her family or friends to go to Disneyland for three nights.
[For the record, 10:21 a.m. June 22: An earlier version of this post referred to “booyah.” The Marine battle cry “oorah” has been substituted. Thanks to tweeter Erica Smith for pointing this out.]