When the video of educational employee, Karen Klein, went viral on YouTube people were shocked and appalled at the vile and verbal abuse that was directed at this 68-year-old bus monitor for the Athena Middle School in Greece, New York. The video taken by another student on his cell phone and posted on YouTube shows the total disrespect and disregard of a human being, let alone an elderly woman, by seventh graders. It caused such an outrage by people around the world who viewed the video (more than 8 million and counting) that one Canadian man set up a fund to raise money to send Mrs. Klein on vacation. To date about $600,000 was raised.
Following the incident, Deborah Hoeft, assistant superintendent for student services in Greece, NY, said: “Certainly the behavior of the students on the video is a clear violation of our district’s code of conduct and will not be tolerated. Disciplinary action to the fullest extent appropriate under New York education law will be taken against all involved.”
On June 29th, it was then announced that the three students who bullied and verbally savaged Mrs. Klein have been suspended for one year and will be sent to the Greece, New York School District’s Reengagement Center. Each boy will also be required to complete 50 hours of community service with senior citizens and must take part in a formal bullying prevention program.
This horrific incident highlights the challenges educational institutions have throughout the country when it comes to bullying. As we previously discussed in our blog, bullying extends beyond student-on-student harassment to attacks on teachers, principals, and now as we have witnessed to bus monitors. In fact, although the video shocked all of us, many educators and school staff members say that what happened to Karen Klein is not a surprise – that it’s a regular aspect of their daily lives.
Yet still today there are some educators that say bullying incidents aren’t taken seriously by administrators. Some educators might even be discouraged from reporting bullying because it could hurt the image of the school, or make them appear ineffective in their jobs, teachers said.
Those educational institutions that are proactive about bullying encourage teachers to be diligent about documentation and communication with parents and children and within school buildings so that everybody is on the same page. This way when those lines are crossed educators can respond appropriately and swiftly. Thousands of schools are implementing programs like Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, which works to improve learning environments and reward positive behavior. While the program may not be perfect as it only focuses on student-on-student bullying and there is a lack of negative consequences, it does help shape a curriculum that highlights respect, effort, attitude, cooperation and honesty, according to educators.
MGA Caitlin-Morgan provides insurance programs to many types of educational facilities including higher education facilities like universities, public schools, private & charter schools and schools for special needs.