June 28th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

"Fat A ---- ", "Oh my God you're so fat!", "Dude put those glasses back on, I can't stand looking at your face!", "You don't have family because they all killed themselves", "If I stabbed you in the stomach, my knife would ---- go through like butter, because it's all lard."

This rot, and much more, was captured on a video, posted on Facebook and YouTube, showing a group of middle school monsters taunting, mocking, cursing and abusing a school bus monitor over the course of a 10-minute period. If you search for this video online, be prepared for extremely profane content.

Karen Klein, a bus monitor for the last three years and a driver for 20 years before that, is a 68-year-old grandmother of eight who has been all over television explaining the regular abuse from these children, who obviously have no fear of discipline and no capacity to act in a civil manner on their own.

The video seen by more than 2 million viewers shows Klein wiping away tears, recoiling from pokes from a student riding behind her, and clinging to her purse as she places her back to the window to increase her line of sight.

According to interviews with Klein, this captured 10-minute occurrence was not her first instance of enduring verbal abuse by a group of boys at Athena Middle School just outside of Rochester, NY.

While volumes of literature focus on the victims of bullying and abuse, scrutiny must be directed to those who bully and choose to offset their own shortcomings with abuse.

In the journal Pediatrics, a 2005 study identified a "red flag" that a "child has not learned to control his or her aggression" and hasn't developed the capacity to empathize or show sensitivity to others.

The publication American Family Physicians noted in its medical writings that "children who bully are at risk for school failure and dropout" and have a tendency "for committing criminal acts later in life."

The Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, the 18th Edition, went on to observe that children who engage in bullying are "more likely to use drugs than those who do not bully."

Bullying and abusive behavior is not the responsibility of teachers to address. Parents, stop being your kids' "friends," stop defending their unacceptable behavior when you're called to school, stop bullying your own children who are mimicking your disgusting habits. Teach respect by demonstrating it. Demand respect. Be a parent.

Teachers and those in schools have their hands tied, as noted in Klein's comments in interviews after her abuse. She stated, "I probably would have been fired, actually," if she had responded to the boys' taunts.

The call of "SOS" is a Morse code signal of distress that calls to mind the phrase "save our ship!" Our cultural ship is sinking. No government program, no feel-good initiative will come to our aid.

The hard work of setting standards of right versus wrong, disciplining wrong-doing and rewarding the right, and having a community-wide expectation of respect is the beginning of the rescue effort.