Karen Huff Klein Bullying Video: Students Apologize; Punishment To Come Before July 4

 @LauraMatt
on June 22 2012 12:04 PM

Three of four students implicated in bullying bus monitor Karen Huff Klein earlier this week and uploading the video to YouTube have apologized, and all will face punishment before the July 4 holiday break.

The students from Athena Middle School in Greece, N.Y., asked police to issue the statement on their behalf, Greece Police Department Capt. Steve Chatterton said on Friday.

The students and their families would have liked to issue the apologies in person or on television but are in fear of their safety since they have received so many threats, Chatterton said. He didn't list the students' last names in order to protect their identities.

The students were among a group of four who teased and ridiculed Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother, about her weight and her looks. They told her that she had no family because they all committed suicide because of her. The students called her names such as fat a-- and troll and threatened to egg her house or urinate on her door. They also used foul language to her face and threatened to break into her house and steal everything inside it. They also told her she would die of diabetes.

How about I bring my knife and f-king cut you, one student said.

It would probably go through all that flab, another responded.

If I stabbed you in the stomach my knife would go through you like butter, a student can be heard saying.

As Klein began to cry, the teasing didn't stop. It only got worse.

'Wish I Had Never Done Those Things'

One student named Wesley was particularly saddened when he thought of his mother or grandmother being in Klein's shoes.

I feel really bad about what I did, Wesley's statement read. I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at the people who did that to them.

Middle school student Josh got a reality check after watching the video and saw that his actions were not so cool after all.

I am so sorry for the way I treated you, he wrote. When I saw the video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I am sorry for being so mean and I will never treat anyone this way again.

The YouTube video, which has garnered more than 3.9 million views, drew national and international outrage. Some viewers blamed the students' parents for their actions.

Children are? a product of the upbringing, I would like to hear from the parents, a comment wrote on YouTube. They need to make a statement. And be held accountable for the action of their kids.

Some of the students' parents have spoken out and offered their apologies to Klein.

Wesley's mother wrote to Klein acknowledging that her son mistreated you on the bus.

I woke up Wednesday morning to find out about the video from multiple phone calls. I was shocked and disgusted when I saw it. It made me cry to see how cruel my son and the other boys were being to you, Wesley's mother's statement read. I feel so horrible about what they did to you.  I cannot even tell you how badly I feel. I am deeply sorry for what my son did.

The mother said she wished there was some way she could make things up to Klein and said she would like for Wesley to do some work for Klein.

I'm sure that you don't want him anywhere near you or your property and I don't blame you, the mother said. I am embarrassed, angry and sad about the awful way he treated you. I am truly sorry.

The father of student Luis also apologized on his son's behalf and added that he doesn't wish this kind of experience on anyone.

Like Luis said, if your friend says to bully somebody, please don't do it, the father wrote. A couple of people have already died because of this. We apologize to Ms. Klein. We're deeply sorry.

Bullyingstatistics.org said the issue is a problem that isn't going away any time soon. By that site's estimate, some 160,000 children miss school daily because of their fear of being bullied.

Scared Straight

Klein told police that she won't be pressing charges against the students, who ridiculed her for more than 10 minutes.

Chatterton said Klein is happy with how the school district is handling the incident and that with all the threats and publicity from the video the boys have been scared straight. The police captain said family members of the boys received threatening messages, emails and texts because of the incident.

They are getting threats from all over the world, Chatterton said. They are terrified. They are 13 and someone you don't know is threatening you. I hope they realize the consequences of their actions. They all seem apologetic and are waiting for their punishment.

Suspension

Greece Central School District is taking the bullying incident seriously and is working to find a punishment solution before the holiday break.

Laurel Heiden, the district's community relations manager, said a hearing date hasn't been scheduled yet because they are trying to get letters out to the families of the students involved. Those letters could be sent out Friday or Monday.

Once the principal sends the letters, there is a five-day window in which a hearing must be held. This means a hearing could take place some time next week.

Heiden said the students could be suspended anywhere between five days to a year. She added, however, that for a student to be suspended for up to a year, there must be proof of physical harm or injury.

There were some threatening things said, but there was no physical contact, Heiden said, noting that the suspension will likely exceed five days. The students acknowledge they had no weapons.

A Disgrace For Athena

The 10-minute YouTube video has also disgraced the high school, which caught the attention of the nation in 2010 when an autistic senior student named Jason McElwain got to experience his basketball dreams.

With four minutes to go in a critical basketball game, McElwain was put into the game, and he scored six three pointers - one after the other -- giving him a total of 20 points in about three minutes.

Heiden said bullying isn't something that the school wants to be known for.

This incident does not define that school and the students who attend there, she said, adding that a bullying prevention program will continue.

As for Klein, nearly $500,000 has been raised online by people worldwide to send her on a vacation and show her that there are still kind people in the world.

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