Bullied bus monitor receives more than US$400,000 in donations – thanks, internet!

22 Jun 2012

A YouTube video of 68-year-old school-bus monitor Karen Huff Klein being bullied by students resulted in an outpouring of sympathy from internet communities, who have since donated thousands so that Klein can take a well-deserved holiday.

YouTube user CapitalTrigga found the video, ‘Making The Bus Monitor Cry’ on Facebook and uploaded it to YouTube to name and shame the students who abused Klein.

The video went viral following a posting on social news website Reddit, and one Redditor, Max Sidirov, was inspired to reach out and show Klein some humanity.

A donation page was set up on Indiegogo to raise US$5,000 for Klein to take a break from work for a while and go on holiday, but with YouTube views reaching more than 3.7m and extensive media coverage, Klein’s vacation fund has far surpassed expectations, reaching more than US$400,000.

Fighting bullies with philanthropy

The 10-minute video is painful to watch and documents the incessant jeers, insults and provocation Klein received from a group of adolescent schoolchildren. The students call her fat, sweaty and poor, insult her clothes and glasses and threaten to egg her house. Juvenile? Yes. Hurtful? Absolutely.


Athena Middle School, in Greece, New York, has since released a statement saying, “The Greece Central School District has been touched by the outpouring of support for Karen and we share the country’s outrage over the behaviour displayed on the videos.”

The school has since conducted an investigation into the incident with the help of the local police department. The bullies have been identified and will duly punished. “Certainly the behaviour 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,” the statement read.

It seems suitable that the school has intervened as Klein herself decided not to even report the students as it was almost the last day of school.

Kindness for Karen

A Facebook page entitled ‘Kindness for Karen’ was also set up. Receiving 4,100 ‘Likes’ within 24 hours, the page focuses on messages of support, not vengeance, and features drawings, pictures and even videos from children who want to remind Klein how nice some kids can be.

Klein has yet to comment on the fundraising but her daughter reached out to the page’s creators and said they are overwhelmed with the support. With the money raised, she could likely quit her US$15,000-a-year job, but when asked in an interview if she would continue to work as a bus monitor, she said yes, “because all kids aren’t that bad.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.