Adults can be victims too. Karen Klein, a 68 year-old school bus monitor from Greece, NY, was the victim of bullying at the hands of middle school students she’s responsible for. Ms. Klein appeared on the “Today” show this morning and discussed with Matt Lauer her experience of what happened.

The video shows several students mocking and publicly degrading her. I could only watch about 3 minutes of the 10 minute video. The language is sickening. Please be warned some may be offended by the language in the clip.

A few hours ago the Rochester Police Department and Greece Central School District held a press conference delineating the progress of the investigation. Ms. Klein has chosen not to press charges.

In the video, Ms. Klein presents as a kind woman actively suppressing the urge to lash out at the children. The children berate her with taunts, “You’re so fat!” “Where do you live so I can piss on your front door?” and other inappropriate sayings. As the video goes on, you almost forget Ms. Klein is the adult in charge of disciplining the boys on the bus and not another student. 

This raises the question: how far can adults discipline other people’s children when they bullying? When dealing with classroom management issues, I can share first hand that being assertive with young people when their behavior is unacceptable is challenging. I often speak with a student’s adviser, division head or in some cases heads of school when I have had to be exceptionally assertive. I trust that school officials will discipline and contact parents as necessary. What would you do if you found out your child did this?

In her interview on the “Today” show, Ms. Klein eluded that she has had some difficulty with the students in the past. I would hope that with this incident caught on tape, she and other employees will discuss incidents of adult bullying with their supervisors.

Dr. Grohol wrote an excellent post about the psychology of the incident, highlighting how a several different factors allowed for this to occur. It takes a system of ignorance, passivity and fear for bullying to exist. If we foster communities of empathy and encourage assertiveness against bullying by bystanders, then we are on the road towards change. 

School bus photo available from Shutterstock.