Hundreds of thousands of dollars had been donated by Friday to the New York bus monitor viciously taunted by seventh-graders from a middle school in the Rochester suburb of Greece aboard a bus operated by the Greece Central School District.
The incident sparked outrage after a video recording was posted online. Sympathizers worldwide have donated nearly $600,000 by late Friday through an international crowd-funding site, Indiegogo.com.
The effort was launched to send Karen Klein on vacation after the disturbing 10-minute video showing the verbal attack on the 68-year-old woman surfaced.
According Indiegogo's Max Sidorov who initiated the effort, "I had no idea I was going to raise anywhere near this amount. I thought maybe a few thousand. Maybe to send her somewhere nice. But this is enough for her to retire."
Digital Journal reports the video shows at least four male students harassing Klein with profane language intended to ridicule her physical appearance. One of the youths said: "They (Klein's family) all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you." The statement upset Klein because her eldest son took his life 10 years ago, CNN reports.
One of the students giggled at the abusive comments, jabbed Klein's arm with a book and made fun of her weight.
As the abuse continued, she tried to disregard them. She kept looking out of the window in an effort to avoid the boys. She said: "It was one of those things, I didn't know what to do... It made me feel really terrible, but I will get over it. I've gotten over everything else."
The action of the boys has been eliciting public comments and questions are being asked about what can lead boys that young to become so cruel. My Northwest reports that 97.3 KIRO FM's Dori Monson, said: "It is unimaginable, it is so disturbing. Any kid that's capable of this level of cruelty has some horrible parenting."
David Bose 770 KTTH host said: "It's clear that this is not the first time these kids have been cruel in this way. It's clear that they feel confident that they can do it, get away with it, and encourage younger students to participate. Back in my day, my bus driver, with his heavy German/Dutch accent, would have stopped the bus, grabbed the oldest two offenders by the ear, and tossed their arses off the bus. They may even have been gripped harshly by the neck if resisted. Now, that bus driver would be arrested or sued. A TV investigation would take place. Society would wring their hands over the harshness of the driver. So we end up with this. This woman is a BUS MONITOR! If SHE is allowed to be treated this way, how do you think other kids might be treated?"
My Northwest reports that 97.3 KIRO FM's Dave Ross, comments that the incident would have long-term impact on the boys because they will have to grow up knowing "the video exists somewhere in cyberspace."
WPTV.com reports that Dr. Chuck Williams, an educational psychologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, commented on the video recorded by a fellow student who witnessed the act: "Videotaping is as popular as hide-and-seek and jump rope for this generation. Recording violent acts and posting them online exaggerates the effect of bullying. It provides a wider audience of bystanders, giving the bullies more power and leading the victim to feel worse because so many people have witnessed his or her humiliation."
But the intention apparently backfired with the worldwide outpouring of rage at the shameful behaviour of the youngsters.
According to WPTV.com, Greee Police Capt. Steve Chatterton, said on Thursday: "I've gotten e-mails from the United Kingdom (and) from all over the United States saying prosecute, prosecute. I feel it. I feel it. But we have to follow the law. We can't tailor the law to meet this case because of public outrage."
Chatterton said the four students involved have been identified and they have spoken to the police, but Klein does not want to file charges against them. Chatterton said, however, said that investigations continue and should Klein change her mind she could still file charges against them.
While Klein said she wants the boys punished, she said she does not want criminal charges brought against them. She said she does not believe that the boys are bad boys, "Not deep down. But when they get together, things happen." Klein was particularly insightful in her comments on the character of the youngsters and the implications of their actions. She said she was sorry for the parents who are finding out their children behaved that way outside home. She said it was unlikely that they act like that at home. She said: "You never know what they're going to do out of the house. They should have been taught to respect their elders, no matter who it is."
She suggested possible disciplinary actions against the boys, such as ban from bus and athletic activities or community service, but she is particularly concerned to make sure it does not happen again. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper: "I want to make sure that they never do this again, to anybody."
CNN's Anderson 360 received statements from two of the accused boys and the father of a third student apologizing for their behavior. One of the boys, Josh, said: "When I saw the video, I was disgusted and could not believe I did that." Another, Wesley, said he regretted his action and that he would be angry if someone had done the same to his family member. The Father of Luis said: "If your friend says to bully somebody, please don't do it."
Chatterton said the four students spoke to the police voluntarily without lawyers. He said: "As one father put it, his son is sitting back, waiting for his punishment... No one has denied accountability and they've taken responsibility for their actions."
The school district said its bullying team and the local police are investigating the incident. CNN reports the school district said: "We have discovered other similar videos on YouTube and are working to identify all of the students involved." School officials say all the videos identified were apparently posted by the same user.
CNN reports that the students and their family members have received death threats. Chatterton said, "We have custody of one of their cell phones, and he had over 1,000 missed calls and 1,000 text messages threatening him. And he is a 13-year-old.That must stop."
Klein has responded to the outpouring of support and donations, saying: "I don't feel like I've done anything. It's awesome."
Max Siderov receives donations
A twist to the incident developed with the report by the New York Daily News that an Indiegogo user Case Prince, has set up a donation campaign for Max Sidorov, the man who set up the Indiegogo donation campaign for Karen Klein. The news has been received with mixed feelings, but Prince defended his action, saying: "Max started the campaign that turned into a landslide of support for Karen Huff Klein and against bullying. I feel Max deserves a small reward himself." Prince argued that Sidorov deserved to be compensated “mostly for dealing with all the media attention, phone calls, and putting in extra hours to provide updates here and on Reddit, answer questions, and legitimize the whole thing.”
But many disagree with Prince. The New York Daily News reports that a user said: “The point of a good deed is to do it without expecting recognition. Don’t donate to this guy. He’s obsessed with himself now, claiming the whole world knows who he is.” Some have suggested that Sidorov is collecting donations for himself by proxy.
The Huffington Post reports that the fund has collected more than $4,000.
According to the New York Daily News, Sidorov, in an update, thanked people who donated and directed them to his Amazon page where they can purchase a nutrition book he wrote.