After a video of middle school students attacking 68-year-old bus monitor went viral, a Reddit user started a campaign to raise money to send her on a "vacation of a lifetime." In only two days, the campaign is approaching $200,000.
This isn't the first time that outrage over a relatively unknown event has snowballed into a major philanthropic campaign on Reddit. Since the site's launch in 2004, Redditors have contributed more than $1.7 million to multiple causes, often involving an injustice or bullying.
Karen Klein has worked as a bus driver and bus monitor (she sits in the back of the bus with the students to make sure they behave) for the Athena Middle School in Greece, N.Y. for 23 years.
Based on the video, it appears that the students began their attack after she asked one of the kids if she could look at a yearbook. They surrounded her and spent the next 10 minutes taunting and verbally assaulting her; at one point a kid grabbed her.
"If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," Klein told the kids. "How 'bout you shut the fuck up?" one kid replied.
"She's going to pick out which kid she's going to rape next," said another at one point. They went on and on, picking on everything from her appearance to her social class, while she tried to ignore them and occasionally defend herself.
How did these kids maintain this assault for so long? Why didn't they get bored? She gave them almost nothing in response, and they just kept at it. After two minutes of abuse, someone plaintively, quietly urges one of the kids to "shut up." It didn't work.
It's hard to believe this really happened, but you can watch it for yourself. Warning: the language is explicit.
The crowdfunding site has been amazed by the response. "Everyone at Indiegogo was so proud this morning to see Karen Klein on television talking so bravely about her experience," says Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin.
The original fundraising goal was $5,000; by the end of the day, it had reached $49,000. As of Thursday morning, it was approaching $190,000. Maybe Klein is interested in a ticket on Virgin Galactic.
On Thursday, Klein spoke out about the incident on the Today show with Matt Lauer. She opened up about the kinds of struggles she's been through, showing that she can handle things much worse than these snotty little kids.