Over just the past few days, the mistreatment of an upstate New York bus monitor has become common knowledge across the country, and she has become an instant celebrity. This incident also tells another story about the state of the American home.
Karen Klein, a 68-year-old widowed grandmother, was viciously insulted and taunted by 12- and 13-year-old students recently while serving at her post as a school bus monitor for Greece, New York’s Athena Middle School. Three videos taken of the incident that have now gone viral on YouTube document 14 minutes of profanity-laced insults and taunts all directed toward this victimized lady. Other physical bullying, including jabs to her side and disturbing of her hair, is also shown. The unprintable insults hurled at Ms. Klein can only be described as disgusting, although that word does not seem to do them justice. While the whole incident was very hurtful to her, she told a local television reporter that one insult was particularly hurtful when a student said, “You’re so ugly, your kid should kill themselves.” Ms. Klein revealed that her son committed suicide 10 years ago.
After seeing the videos, local school officials reported the incident to local police, and the students believed to have been involved in the incident have been questioned by police and school officials who are deciding whether to bring any formal charges to the students. Even after all the hardships, including this one, that this woman has had to endure throughout her lifetime, she seemed satisfied with the local reaction to the incident, and local police said that Ms. Klein doesn’t want the students to be prosecuted. She stated that community service might be a more fitting punishment for them. Last Thursday, she told Matt Lauer on TODAY: “It made me feel really terrible, but I will get over it. I’ve gotten over everything else.” She had been a school bus driver for 20 years and has now worked as a bus monitor for the last three years. She heard some of the insults for the first time only after watching the videos, as she is hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids.
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In another quote from Ms. Klein, directed toward the parents of the children, she said: “I’m sure they don’t act that way at home, but you never know what they’re going to do when they’re out of the house. They should’ve been taught to respect their elders no matter who it is.” This statement is very true and brings us to the heart of the matter. As parents, we really can’t know for a certainty what our children will do or say when they leave our sight, but if we at least teach them how they should talk or act, we can feel a little more confident about their public behavior. A father of one of the boys involved in this incident extended a seemingly heart-felt apology to Mrs. Klein. Apparently, a couple of other seemingly token apologies have been extended to her, but she explained that she doubted their sincerity. Even without the knowledge of which kids were among the guilty or whose parents gave what apology, this point also seems to reveal a great deal. I would speculate that the kid of the parent who extended the real apology was most likely influenced to join in on the attack with the kids who started it all. It seems likely that the token apologies came from the parents of the students who led the attack on Ms. Klein. What we teach our children, and what sort of example we set for them, does matter. This incident is evidence of that fact.
Some might say that these sorts of incidents are the fault of the failures of our nation’s public school systems, the most significant of which would be their almost universal removal of the Bible, prayer, or any mention of God in their instruction, activities, and even student freedoms. This statement would personally be considered correct. The root of the problem, though, runs even deeper. Had the majority of American families not first removed God from their homes, the schools would not have removed Him either. The list of examples goes on and on from this incident, back to school shootings such as the one at Columbine High School. Ms. Klein was also reported to have stated that in the past, as children, we feared our elders. This was a healthy and reverent fear that resulted in most kids’ visible respect and obedience toward adults. These days though, in public schools and even in many households, children have nothing to fear. Responsible corporal punishment is largely viewed as a thing of the past, removed from our schools and homes and labeled as child abuse,alongside the actions of those who truly abuse children. The Holy Bible tells us that “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chaseneth him betimes.” A traditional American proverb based on this passage tells us: “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” If we should question whether this sort of thinking and action is still credible, we should look back to a time in this country when God was still welcome in our society, schools, and homes. Were incidents involving violence by children and disrespect toward elders rarer in those days? Was the adult crime rate lower in America? The answers are yes and yes. Parents are raising the future of America and will greatly determine whether it will be a positive or negative one.
The absence of a moral compass established by traditional principles of God and faith can be seen everywhere these days. It can be seen in the ever-thinning attendance in churches across our country, especially that of young people. If you want to see what the total absence of this moral compass looks like, just stroll through the internet to the first atheist website or Facebook webpage you find, or even the statements found in the comments section of the Huffington Post website’s articles on any given day! You’ll see this absence; I promise.
Those who hate the history of America’s founding, especially that it was founded upon the Bible and Godly principles, will be the first to spout the contrived American principle of “separation of church and state.” This platform is taken not from our Constitution, but from a single line from a letter once sent by Thomas Jefferson that referred to America’s actual constitutional precept that disallowed the establishment of a single state religion that would dictate all the actions and freedoms of the U.S. government by the authority of a church. The Constitution was never intended to and does not prohibit any reference or reverence to God. Quite the contrary is true. Traditionally, God has frequently been mentioned and included in decisions made by our governing officials. Consecutively, many of our early presidents and elected officials were Christians and ordained ministers. President Calvin Coolidge even stated that “The foundations of society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” Well, it seems that we are now beginning to see the height of this difficulty in modern American society and government.
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The disrespecting of elders, such as in the example discussed here, is just one more of the many signs of the times predicted by the Holy Bible. As for many of the liberal thinkers in our country today, even if they were to believe in the Biblical historical accuracy of the gospel message of God the Father’s sacrifice of his only Son, it would probably just be seen as an instance of child abuse, instead of as a free, personal, and undeserving gift. It’s now more popular to believe that we deserve the whole world, and woe be to those who stand in our way. That is a very dangerous position. In America, we have made many strides forward in our accomplishments, and these accomplishments have always been based on freedom with Judeo-Christian legal limitations. At the same time though, we have fallen away from positions that were once honorable. Sometimes, in order to move forward, we must first look back.
Photo credit: Gerry Dincher (Creative Commons)
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