The least we can do is respect one another

Remember the story about Karen Klein of New York, who was verbally attacked and taunted by a group of seventh grade students on a school bus for which she was a monitor?

One of the boys used his cell phone to record the boys heckling Klein as she sat peacefully on the bus. In addition to poking fun at her hearing aid and calling her names, the boys were downright nasty to the then 68-year-old woman.

“Oh my God, you are so fat,” one of the boys is heard saying.

After about a minute of the abuse, Klein turns to the boys and says “unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The disgusting jabs continued.

When the boys ask her why she is sweating, Klein replies that she is crying.

“Yea, she probably misses her box of Twinkies,” another boy says.

Her weight continued to be a focal point of the hatred but the boys threw in a few other comments as well calling her a troll and going as far as saying that she didn’t have any family left because they all took their own lives because they did not want to be near her.

Klein’s oldest son in fact did take his own life 10 years earlier.

It is a disturbing, painful and disheartening video to watch. When the incident first happened last year I started to watch the video but stopped because it literally made me cry.

I cried for Klein and cried because it hurt me to see young children so filled with hate that they would do this to an innocent person who was causing no harm to anyone. She was just doing her job.

I watched it again as I wrote this and I still could not get through it.

Sticks and stones, right? WRONG!

For the life of me, I just don’t understand it.

A man by the name of Max Sidorov of Canada was so affected by the video that he started taking online collections to help send Klein on a vacation.

His efforts and those of the 32,000 others from 84 countries helped to raise over $700,000, an amount even Sidorov was astounded by.

For her part, Klein used a portion of the money to start the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation. She has traveled to different parts of the country to promote her foundation and raise awareness for the cause. Klein has partnered with the Moscow Ballet Company and WNBA as well.

Aside from the attention and mostly unwanted fame that this incident brought to her, Klein’s life has pretty much remained as it was before this all happened.

With some of the money going to her foundation and some going to help out family members, the rest remains under lock and key for her retirement, according to Klein.

Someday she may purchase a motor home or lay new carpet in her house or possibly by some new furniture. But she is not in a big hurry to do any of that.

As for the boys who harassed her in the video, Klein said that one boy and his parents physically came to her house to apologize while the other three sent typed notes to her, which were less sincere.

As a parent, my child would be going to her door, speak to her face to face and beg for forgiveness. I would bring along my child’s grandparents and ask them how they would feel if someone were doing what they did to them. I would not let my child get away with a cowardly note.

We have so many issues to deal with in our lives, our country and the world. It is too bad that we, as Americans, have not yet figured out how to treat each other, whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, weight, what we wear, how we talk, and the list goes on and on.

We don’t always have to agree with each other, but the least we can do is respect one another.

Submitted by Mark McGlothlen

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