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Lessons from the Bullying Video That Went Viral

The following is a guest post from Bill Hogan, a writer and editor on the AARP Media News team.


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

How many of us had to say that in "repeat-after-me" drills when we were growing up? I don't know about you, but I never really believed it. Words can hurt.

Millions of us could see that in the video-gone-viral of Karen Huff Klein, a 68-year-old school bus monitor in Greece, N.Y., struggling to ignore a virtually unfathomable onslaught of profanity and meanness at the hands of a small group of 12- and 13-year-old boys. But at one point she removes her glasses to wipe away tears - and then endures another barrage of insults over that.

There's a lot to admire in Klein. She didn't want the seventh-grade students prosecuted or even punished. She said that she hoped the boys' parents would see the video and talk to their children about being "a little more respectful." Klein added that while she appreciated the generosity of strangers who made contributions to give her the "vacation of a lifetime," there was one thing that would really make her happy: an apology from the bullying students.

"It made me feel really terrible, but I will get over it," Klein told Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show. "I've gotten over everything else."

I'm guessing that the rest of us won't get over this for a while, even now some of the students have apologized to Klein. But I felt a whole lot better after watching a video made by Wallace Kubler-Kramaley, a 15-year-old student in East Amherst, N.Y. (with his mom behind the camera):

"I like talking to older people because I can learn a lot from them," Wallace says in the video. (Well, he doesn't really say that, but you'll need to watch to see what I mean.) "They also have more time to talk."

Maybe Wallace's video will prompt you to make your own and add it to the growing volume of responses on YouTube.

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