ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A New York school bus monitor who was verbally assaulted by four middle schoolers, an attack that generated international outrage and an outpouring of support for the woman when a video of the taunts went viral, has told police she does not want the boys to face criminal charges.
The monitor, 68-year-old Karen Klein, told police she is happy with the swift and strong community response against the verbal attack aboard a Greece Central School District bus, which was captured in a 10-minute video, authorities said Thursday.
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Criminally charging the boys, all seventh-graders, would require their conduct to rise to the level of a crime, Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said. So far, it has not been found to reach that level.
The YouTube video was viewed more than 1.5 million times by Thursday morning. An online crowd-funding site raised more than $225,000 by midday to help send Klein on vacation.
Klein said she hoped the boys' parents would view the video of the attack and talk to their children about being "a little more respectful." Parents of all four boys are cooperating fully and say their children will be punished, Chatterton said.
A student recorded the video. In it, Klein is seen trying her best to ignore a stream of profanity, insults and outright threats directed at her. At one point, she breaks down in tears.
Klein told NBC's "Today" show Thursday that it took "a lot of willpower" not to respond to Monday's jeers from the boys riding the bus.
"I'm not usually that calm. Just ask my kids," Klein, a grandmother of eight, said during the interview. "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."
Klein said she was "amazed" at the support she received.
"I've got these nice letters, emails, Facebook messages," she said. "It's like, wow, there's a whole world out there that I didn't know. It's really awesome."
The publicity over Klein's case — an adult apparently being bullied by youths — adds a twist to a recent surge in awareness that has brought the problem of bullying from the classroom to the stage and screen to the White House.
In September, after 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, not far from Rochester, killed himself after complaining about being bullied about his sexuality, pop singer Lady Gaga decried the loss of another life to bullying. She tweeted to millions of followers that she would take her concerns to President Barack Obama.
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."
In April, the documentary film "Bully" examined the problem by following five kids over the course of a school year.
In Klein's case, she didn't report the bullying, but school officials notified police when they learned of it. The school may take disciplinary action. A school district bullying-and-violence-prevention response team is investigating.
The district in suburban Rochester is the ninth largest in the state. Other videos of the verbal assault have also been posted.
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