A shocking Youtube video of a 68-year-old school bus monitor New York who was bullied by a group of middle school students has received more than $475,000 in online donations.
Karen Klein, 68, is seen in a 10-minute viral video attempting to ignore the verbal attacks by students on a bus operated by the Greece Central School District, near Rochester, N.Y. Children on the bus hurl repeated insults and threats at the grandmother, calling her fat and at one point suggesting that her children commit suicide.
But donations have since poured in for the grandmother in hopes that she'll take a "vacation of a lifetime," according to fundraising site indiegogo.com. As of early Thursday, a total of $156,979 [As of Friday, the time of posting this, a total of $482,310] had been received for Klein and the video had been viewed on YouTube more than 1.5 million times.
Klein's daughter, Michelle, said her mother has worked in the school system for more than 20 years as a bus driver and now a bus monitor. Klein, meanwhile, has said she wants to return to her job, but on a different bus route and with an apology from the students, MyFoxBoston.com reports.
Klein did not report the bullying, but school officials notified Town of Greece police when they learned of it. Police have questioned the students involved, but none have been charged.
The school district, meanwhile, is investigating the incident. At least two other videos showing Klein being taunted by students aboard a bus are known to have been posted online.
"We have discovered other similar videos on YouTube and are working to identify all of the students involved," according to a statement posted on the district's website.
The outpouring of support for Klein follows a recent surge in awareness of bullying that has brought the issue from the classroom to the stage and screen to the White House.
In April, the documentary film "Bully" examined the problem by following five kids over the course of a school year. Months later, after 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of suburban Buffalo killed himself in September after complaining about being bullied about his sexuality, pop singer Lady Gaga decried the loss of another life to bullying, tweeting to millions of followers that she'd take her concerns to President Barack Obama.
Also this year, the White House held a conference on bullying prevention, estimating that it affects 13 million students, or about a third of those attending school. Obama said he hoped to "dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It's not