By now, you have likely heard of the 10-minute nightmare Karen Klein, an elderly New York school bus monitor, endured. She was bullied by four seventh-graders who called her horrible names bringing her to tears.
If you haven’t yet seen the video, I will warn you that these miniature monsters use terrible language and you might not be able to stomach the entire clip.
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Dear Parents of the Greece School District,
I know none of us ever look at our beautiful children and think, “I bet this one will yell obscenities at an old woman on a school bus someday.”
When that baby is placed in our arms, our minds only go to all of the wonderful thoughts and hopes. Unfortunately, hope never raised a child.
I am sure that your son is perfectly delightful at home. Perhaps he asks if he can take out the trash or spend the weekend with his grandmother. I am certain that your son got caught up in the moment and followed the suite of his obnoxious friends. Boys will just be boys after all, right?
Your child, regardless of the role played on that bus – whether he yelled hurtful words, flicked Ms. Klein’s head, videotaped it on his phone, sat seven rows back or was driving the bus – took part in this brutal attack. For not a single person to step up and defend this woman is reprehensible.
Where do children learn this behavior?
Let me guess, you are taking away all of that horrible music and the terrible video games that have surely infiltrated his young, impressionable mind. Go ahead; it’s mostly crud anyway. But once you’re done, you might want to look in the mirror.
I’m not suggesting that you go around berating little old ladies. Perhaps it’s the way you yell at someone who cuts you off, or the way you talk about your jerk-face boss at the dinner table. Maybe you are perfectly delightful to people. But one too many times, your child has seen you follow or refuse to stick up for someone.
I’m sure you are ashamed, embarrassed and furious. Who wouldn’t be if it was there child?
Feelings have their place, but they don’t show children how to behave. Your job as a parent is to teach children how to behave regardless of their feelings. Unfortunately the only example of action despite feelings was from Ms. Klein who kept her cool, when nearly every feeling was telling her to beat your brats until they called for you.
Now it is up to you. What will your next step be? You’ll likely issue a public apology to Ms. Klein, once again missing the opportunity to teach your child accountability.
When I was a kid, my father would have dragged me by my ear to her home for me to make a sincere apology in person. Never would he think to apologize on my behalf. Don’t be the parent who tries to make everything okay for their child. That’s likely part of what got us here in the first place.
What punishment do you hand out in the hopes your child learns that to treat another living thing with such disdain and cruelty is unacceptable.
You teach them by being the type of person who loudly condemns those who belittle others. You show them as often as possible by standing up for those who are been trampled on. They may not listen to a word you say, but I promise, they see everything you do.
Cat Koehler is married with two children. She works full time. Read her Mondays on momaha.com