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Karen Klein: Some Expert Opinions on Kids Bullying Elders

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Today, the Voice wrote about Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor in Greece, New York, who was viciously taunted by the kids in her care. One kid, who claims he did not participate in the bullying, took video of the incident. That video has since gone viral, prompting thousands to come out in support of Klein. One Good Samaritan wanted to raise $5,000 to send Klein on a vacation, but word of his plan took the web by storm: There’s now nearly $225,000 in that fund.

While bullying is commonly in the news, we typically hear about kids bullying other kids rather than their elders. So we hit up Dr. Joel Haber, an anti-bullying expert, with some questions.

For starters, does this happen a lot?

More than one thinks, Haber told us.

“It’s not talked about very much, but sometimes they bully teachers or sometimes they bully aides. It’s a big power thing for them. It’s not uncommon.”

How often, then?

Haber said there’s not a lot of studies on kids bullying educational aides, so numbers on that are unclear.

And even though Klein has decided not to take court action, Haber says that these students must be disciplined and made to understand what they did.

“She got so much support form people after that the video went viral..that was kind of enough [for her.] But, truly these kids should be spoken to. They have a responsibility to kind of understand that happening and deal with that in some kind of way.”

It’s key, he said, that they apologize to her, so that they understand what they did.

Haber also emphasized the need for extensive study of the situation to see whether the school district must reform its anti-bullying efforts and if so, how.

Another psychologist, John M. Grohol, PSYD and editor of PsychCentral, wrote today that this particular type of opportunistic incident is often not addressed in school anti-bullying programs.

A combination of factors such as Klein’s seeming vulnerability — because the driver didn’t notice, because Klein was basically the lone adult, and because she is a senior citizen — played off an environment long lamented for fostering mob mentalities, Grohol wrote.

Had the driver noticed, this likely would not have happened, Grohol argued.

Typically, he said, the presence of a disciplinary authority tends to serve as a deterrent in these types of situations.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

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