“That’s what we have become,” I thought, after watching the video that went viral where a 68-year-old bus monitor named Karen Klein is verbally assaulted and by four middle school boys, one of whom even appears to poke at her arm and waist and call her “fatty.” The bus monitor has now received over $600,000 in donations from people who feel bad for her across the country. But we should feel worse for a society that has allowed children and bureaucrats to bully us all into submission. How and why have we done that? It’s a good question and one that will take more than a blog post to solve, but here are my thoughts.
My first question when I look at the video is that the bus is moving, so where is the bus driver? Why did Klein not do anything and ask the driver to stop the bus? Why did she simply cry — which is exactly what these juvenile delinquent-acting boys wanted? Why does no one stand up to these kids? Because no one is allowed to anymore. Bureaucrats who can’t make decisions have rendered many adults (and children) helpless. Bombarded with self-esteem programs to make kids feel good at any cost and adults told never to yell at a child lest they be charged with abuse, the bullies and miscreants rise to the top without consequences until they do something so awful that they encounter legal consequences.
Look around the web and you will see people who blame the parents: they raised the misbehaving monsters, some say. But parents and adults in general have had their authority usurped for the last 50 years by society and the “helping professions” and in turn, child protective agencies and law enforcement who might take your kid or charge you as a sex offender if you do what they perceive to be wrong and who knows what that is?
In response, parents often do nothing, or do not punish in ways they did in the past. Parents are always told “love is the answer” and scolded for being harsh. For example, here is what one “parenting expert” has to say about the bus monitor case:
Everyone else in America might be calling for harsh, swift justice to be meted out by both the Greece Central School District and the parents of the kids involved. But not Nelson.
Co-author of two dozen parenting books including the Positive Discipline series, Nelson says the traditional means of punishment — yelling, shaming, hitting, grounding, etc. — are counterproductive.
“I think to go after these kids in a punitive way, it just doesn’t help,” she said. Nelson knows that the vast majority of parents will scoff both at that notion — and at her belief that the young bullies are merely acting out due to their own “need for a sense of significance and belonging.”
Even so, she suggests that the parents of the bullies embark on a four-step process to set aside their anger, take the time to emotionally connect with the misbehaving kids, find the reason behind the misdeeds, and then help the kids learn and grow from their mistakes.
No, Ms. Nelson, these kids are doing what they are doing because they can and it’s not the first time. They “get off” on having this woman cry and it makes them feel good, not bad. If there are no consequences for their behavior, they will do it again and with even more enthusiasm.
But here is my fear: people get so angry and upset about bullying — this bus monitor case went further to the level of juvenile delinquency — and the same dumb bureaucrats and helping professions that made the problem worse to begin with will now go to the other extreme like they always do and make bullying against other kids “illegal.” Naturally, adults in kid’s lives have to go from one extreme to the other. Instead of setting boundaries and telling kids to cut it out from the beginning, now any act that a bureaucrat doesn’t like will become suspect and require punishment. Because they are too stupid or afraid to make any decisions, they will leave it to some “zero tolerance” anti-bullying law that makes no distinction between an expression of disagreement and true abuse.
Your kids are not safe in the public schools from these bureaucrats who will use the force of the state to make sure your child complies with being politically correct if more of these anti-bullying laws are enacted. If they say the wrong thing against a Democratic constituency group, they will be punished. That will be the effect of bullying laws. As Rush Limbaugh often says, “Don’t doubt me.”
Update: Commenter Chuck mentioned that the bus montior was not doing much of a job as she was not communicating with the bus driver about behavioral problems. This, of course, could be because the school admin. did not prepare her to do so. If you look up the job decription of a bus monitor, monitoring behavior should be one of the most important. For example, here are the duties on one site I looked at:
1) Knows the route and remains alert to monitor the welfare of passengers while enroute. Keeps order on the bus.
2) Communicates behavior problems and conditions of various stops with the driver.
I wonder how much Klein did when there were other problems on the bus? If she won’t help herself, was she helping the other kids who may have been bullied also? Maybe these kids were taunting her because of her reluctance to do anything on the bus. If true, that doesn’t make what they did right but it makes it a little more understandable.