ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A school bus monitor in New York state who was verbally assaulted by four middle schoolers, an attack that generated 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 outraged response to the video spread beyond the United States, with a Toronto man reportedly responsible for a fundrasing campaign to give the woman a holiday.
The taunting and verbal abuse of the bus monitor was captured in a 10-minute cellphone video recorded by one of the students and posted to YouTube. It shows 68-year-old Karen Klein trying her best to ignore the stream of profanity, insults and outright threats directed at her. At one point in the video, she breaks down in tears.
Klein told police she is happy with the swift and strong community response against the verbal attack aboard a Greece Central School District bus, authorities said Thursday.
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.
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 co-operating fully and say their children will be punished, Chatterton said.
By Thursday morning, the video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube.
Klein's treatment on the bus led to an outpouring of support. The international crowd funding site Indiegogo.com had raised more than $250,000 by Thursday afternoon to send the grandmother of eight on a vacation.
Media reports attribute the fundraising effort to Max Sidorov, a Toronto-based nutritionist and York University graduate spurred to action after spotting the troubling footage online
Klein told NBC's "Today" show Thursday that it took "a lot of willpower" not to respond to Monday's jeers from at least four seventh- and eighth-grade boys riding the bus operated by the Greece Central School District, a suburban Rochester district that's the ninth largest in the state.
"I'm not usually that calm. Just ask my kids," Klein 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."
She expressed gratitude over the show of public support for her, however.
"I'm so amazed," she said.
"I've got these nice letters, emails, Facebook messages," Klein said. "It's like, wow, there's a whole world out there that I didn't know. It's really awesome."
The support for Klein follows a recent surge in awareness of bullying in the United States and Canada.
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. President Barack 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 Canada, Ontario this month passed anti-bullying legislation aimed at schools, despite opposition by Catholic educators and church leaders who took issue with provisions allowing students to call anti-homophobia clubs gay-straight alliances.
Some of Canada's leading experts on bullying expressed support for the new law and called for a national strategy to address what they consider an "epidemic.''
Klein didn't 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 activated its bullying and violence prevention response team to investigate 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.
--With files from The Canadian Press