The Dignity Of The Bus Monitor: Teaching Our Children To Respect Others

July 2, 2012

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[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"71156","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"330","width":"540","style":""}}]]You have probably seen or heard the story on YouTube about Ms. Klein, a 62-year-old school bus monitor. And if not, the video is posted above, but be warned that the content is highly disturbing and graphic.

What Was Wrong:
The disrespect for her role on the bus is terribly wrong. A group of males ganging up verbally on a solitary woman violates all sense of human decency. The predatory aspect of singling out a vulnerable person and poking at her is disturbing. The subsequent posting on YouTube that followed almost suggests a celebration of the student’s effort to humiliate her. I was upset for Ms. Klein but also worried and grieved for the young students who could be so callous.

Righting The Wrong:

When we talk about bullying we say there is a bully, a victim and the bystander(s). Here, the bystanders are not just students on the bus; we become bystanders when watching the video.

The Canadian gentleman who wanted to restore a sense of dignity to Ms. Klein invited us to show empathy and right the wrong. By doing so he created a community ethos! We had an opportunity to show our support and express our disagreement with the bullying actions – community ethos.

  • He recognized the damage from the bullying.
  • He initiated an action to address the fallout.
  • Furthermore, his action allowed, not just himself, but, the community, to move from by-standing to righting the wrong.

In every situation of bullying we need to look for creative ways to right the wrong and creative ways to encourage the community to eliminate bullying.

Courage, Smarts & Compassion:
Klein is courageous and smart when she says she would like a private meeting to ask the students “why did you do this?” Courageous because she is giving each individual the opportunity to apologize to her in person and look her in the eye. Smart because she sends the message that they will not shame her. Compassionate because she is trying to help each student confront their behavior. She gives them the opportunity to address the wrong they inflicted.

Restitution:
Parents should take back the reins of parenting. They should require that the students work for Ms. Klein, clean her bathroom, clean her house, clean her yard, listen to her talk. Parents need to give their children a way to make restitution, a way to show respect, a way to serve the person they wrong. Perhaps by acting kindly, the students will begin to understand kindness.

As the adults, we need to give the students opportunity to atone for their mistake and restore dignity to Ms. Klein. And, like we've discussed in a previous blog post, bullying requires you disconnect from the target.

Ms. Klein’s wish to meet provides the students with an opportunity to connect with her.

How do you think we can help kids learn to not behave like this? How would you address such behavior?

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