Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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70 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I got through about forty seconds of the video. What a pack of monsters. Stupid monsters, to film and post this graphic demonstration of the fact that not only were they raised by wolves, they also rejected the genteel social graces of their canine step-parents.

    The total is over $362K now. That’s about $100K in taxes. That’s not just I’m going to Europe first class thanks to all you unsocialized little bitches money. That’s approaching screw all you little shits and retire for real money.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      $425K now.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “What a pack of monsters. Stupid monsters, to film and post this graphic demonstration of the fact that not only were they raised by wolves, they also rejected the genteel social graces of their canine step-parents.”


      Nothing excuses what these kids did. But they’re just that… kids. And we know nothing about their parents. Children tend to rise or sink to the expectations set for them. When their missteps (and I doubt these are the first major missteps for any of these kids) are met with a reaction such as the one you offered here, it is often little wonder when they continue to demonstrate monstrous behavior.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        What I wonder is what the lady was even doing there. If kids can slag you off to your face and you’re legally constrained to just sit there and not react then why are you on that bus at all?Report

        • Avatar James K says:

          This is a good point, what exactly is a “bus monitor” actually for?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Few explanations:

          Duh, unions. (When in doubt, blame unions).

          A more talented individual might have known a way to react that would have been within the bounds of her role and responsibility or probably could have acted in such a way to avoid such a situation happening in the first place. No guarantees, but I’m sure there are a number of adults those kids would have known better than to pull that shit with.

          Teachers (and using that term as loosely as possible to include bus monitors) have been stripped of many of the types of tools they might use in such a strategy. Raise your voice above a gentle whisper and some parents will come after your head.

          In all seriousness, I’d put most of it on the middle offering. The kids went after this woman because they sensed a weakness. They knew she wouldn’t be able to handle them and might have known she might have cried. Kids are pretty astute in this way. I’m sure Will can weigh in on all the bullshit kids pull with subs. Or just remember which teachers you were a punk to and which you weren’t (assuming you were a punk to any of them).Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            According to my (schoolteacher) wife, the monitor basically exhausted all of her options.

            Anything else would have left her or the school or (likely) both open to lawsuits. Or got her fired.

            Plain fact of the matter is — a teacher’s authority in the classroom is just as tenuous as a policeman’s control over a mob. It depends ENTIRELY on the students believing the teacher/monitor/adult is an authority figure.

            Blaming the monitor is stupid. She did everything she was legally and contractually allowed. While it might be emotionally satisfying to consider her just smacking one of the little snots, she’d have ended up fired and probably charged with assault.Report

            • Avatar M.A. says:

              Far as I know in most districts the “bus monitors” are not even paid, they’re volunteers. And they have almost no authority other than to write the principal a note naming the kid and saying what went on, which the principal may or may not read.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                They’re generally there because it’s considered rather unsafe for the person driving the bus full of kids to try (1) drive and (2) monitoring the kids to keep them from running around, tossing crap out windows, and generally being kids on a bus.

                Way back in the day, when i was in school, I watched an idiot toss an entire pack of paper out the bus (opened!) into traffic when we were doing 45 or so. Hit a cop’s window, which made it doubly stupid.

                The cop was not pleased to find his windshield covered in paper while driving.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Man, that would have been good for 25 points where I grew up!Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              I didn’t intend to blame the monitor and the extent to which I seemed to, I apologize for.

              I think you hit the nail on the head here:
              “Plain fact of the matter is — a teacher’s authority in the classroom is just as tenuous as a policeman’s control over a mob. It depends ENTIRELY on the students believing the teacher/monitor/adult is an authority figure.”

              The issue then becomes how do we train bus monitors such that they can effectively present themselves as authority figures. I recognize that busses by their very nature (they’re moving; they’re necessary for some children simply to get to and from school) present a unique set of circumstances that might make that difficult, more difficult than it would be to accomplish the same feat in the classroom. Which is why, if MA is correct, using untrained volunteers is simply asking for these types of things to happen.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Who says she’s untrained? *shrug*. You’re asking to teach her voodoo magic here. Kids are notoriously short-term thinkers, especially that age. “i’m gonna write a note with your name on it and you’ll get detention” means nothing, no matter what tone of voice or body language you have to back it up, when the kid is caught in the moment and in peer pressure.

                *ALL* you can do once they get a little mob mentality like that is come down on them like a hammer after and hope to hell their parents do to.

                FWIW, my wife mentioned that something like that would likely have had every kid involved spend a solid week in in-school suspension, followed by stripping them of any access to extracuricular activities for at least six weeks, as well as an absolute zero tolerance policy the rest of the year.

                But none of that would have stopped it THEN. It was pretty obvious the monitor was written off as an authority figure well before.Report

              • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

                Perhaps they should have issued her a gun. Or, at the very least a tazer.

                “You’re a fucking fat-ass!”


              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                “Hey, Jamie called you a fatass too!”

                “No, I didn’t! I said you were pretty! Billy called you a fatass four times! You need to taze him four times!”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “But none of that would have stopped it THEN. It was pretty obvious the monitor was written off as an authority figure well before.”

                Indeed. And it is my hunch that this isn’t the first time a child spoke rudely to her. And it is also my hunch that she didn’t handle it swiftly and firmly as you outlined above, which might have prevented it from happening at all because they would have realized this was not a lady to fuck with.

                Bus monitoring is a tough-as-balls job. It is very hard to be successful. I don’t mean to criticize the woman, who is clearly a victim, but based on what she showed in that video (which is admittedly a very small sample size), I wonder if she was the appropriate person to have doing that job. That’s all. If she was properly trained and otherwise effective and this situation simply got so out of hand that nothing could be done… well, nothing can be done. And I hope, regardless, that the kids were dealt with appropriately after.Report

              • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

                If you read the stories about the video, it turns out that the woman was partially deaf, and didn’t even hear most of the insults. She didn’t realize how rudely she had been treated until she saw the YouTube video.

                Even so, once children, understand that a non-authority authority figure has no recourse, only the most extraordinarily socially-skilled person would be able to handle them. The school district might as well have painted a target on her back.

                I was just kidding about the taser, but perhaps if the school district allowed her to amputate fingers…Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Which is why she should have recourse. In the moment, that is limited. But after-the-fact, make an example of the ringleaders. To the extent that I offered criticism to the monitor, it was really aimed at the district for failing to position her for success.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Districts generally don’t plan with an eye towards “Bus will become fool of Lord of the Flies kids” because it doesn’t happen that often.

                If it weren’t for the video, what would have happened is the ringleaders would have ended up suffering a great deal of unpleasantness at school that may or may not have taught them a lesson, and their parents would have been notified.

                Which is all that’s going to happen WITH the video, except the kids get the added sting of being the laughingstock of YouTube and the subject of general scorn, which to kids that age is pretty unpleasant.

                After all, probably 80% of them were responding to peer pressure in the first place. Being labeled “jerks” and “assholes” by the world at large is fairly significant slap. (Especially when people backed it up with 300 grand).

                One of the women my wife works with taught me when I was a kid — middle school. It was her first year, and I feel *awful* to this day about how shitty a brat I was in her class. I mean I literally feel guilty, decades later, just being around her.

                She finds it funny, because while I look back and see “Holy shit, i was an asshole!” she viewed me as only sticking out because she didn’t have to worry about my performance scholastically, I’d do fine. I thought I was an asshole, she thought I was just one of the 7th graders who would do the work in the end, even if I goofed off with everyone else at times.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Who knew that the old eunuch Varys knew something about child rearing?Report

          • Avatar Miss Mary says:

            “assuming you were a punk to any of them”

            You’re assuming I wasn’t a punk to all of them.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        We know something about some of their parents. Not all of their parents, but some.

        This does not occur spontaneously.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I don’t know if we know enough to say they were raised by wolves. Especially based on what we know about kids and group mentality and peer pressure and adolescence. My mom would not be happy if she was evaluated as a parent based on my worst moments and I’m sure the parents amongst us here would not want to be evaluated based on their own children’s worst moments.

          It is entirely possible that some or all of their parents are “wolves” if not worse. I’m just not comfortable going to that place based on the admittedly cruel and asinine actions of these children on a 10-minute tape.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          This does not occur spontaneously.

          I’m sorry, but I really do beg to differ on this. I firmly believe that children are cruel until they are taught not to be. Teaching them not to be takes a long, long time, and often it never happens at all.

          And yes, I’m going to tell my own daughter this, too. Her peers are going to be evil to her, and there is no sense denying it. That’s what children do.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          As the parent of a middle-schooler I can testify that parenting only goes so far. Our kids have been raised pretty well IMO. The oldest has turned out to be a great kid. Jury is still out on the second one, although her judgement and the company she keeps is increasingly giving us concerns. The only difference is the schools they went to. So I guess what I am saying is that once kids hit about 13 their peer group is what forms most of their personality for the next 10+ years.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            There is also what is inherent to the child. I believe the answer to the whole “nature-nurture” debate is both/and. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes, no matter what you do as a parent or what school you put your kids in or what kids you surround them with, they’re going to take certain turns in life.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          Sorry, that came off backwards.

          What I meant by that phrase is that it does not occur independently of parenting. I take some exception with Jason’s contention that children are cruel until they are taught not to be; children don’t have a concept of cruelty at younger ages, they’re mean because their universe is centered on themselves. Even Jack, who is spontaneously of as kind a heart as any kid I’ve seen, was much more “me-focused” than “other-focused” in kinder and first.

          These aren’t small children. They’re middle-schoolers. They’re perfectly capable of expanding their worldview a tad. This is not a discrete progression, and there is occasionally peer pressure to regress, sure. But mob behavior like this, there are (at least) three kids involved there that have severe discipline problems. They can be instigators and get the others involved (kids are prone to mob behavior, sure). One of them, maybe two of them, may be by nature rather than nurture extremely difficult. Not all three. There’s some shitty parenting going on there.

          And, I gotta be frank, in my opinion… if you have a child that requires a lot of discipline because by nature they’re difficult, that’s still on you to fix. You brought them into the world, it’s your job to assimilate your little alien critter to human society. You don’t get to say, “I can’t do it”.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            except we do, In America.
            and it’s good for the world, if not always for our servers.

            Ausbergers people cause many more problems (and hissy fits) in America than Japan or Germany, where they are much more forcibly brought into line with societal expectations (perhaps American expectations are more towards the Ausberger’s line of the spectrum, though).Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              This was not a school bus full of middle-school children suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. It was a school bus full of children who were behaving monstrously because they thought it was fun.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Nothing excuses what these kids did. But they’re just that… kids.

        Isn’t “But they’re just kids” an excuse? Isn’t that line of reasoning setting an expectation that the sort of behavior illustrated in that video is appropriate for kids of that age?

        Either what they are doing is worthy of condemnation and reproach, or it is not. I say it is worthy of condemnation and reproach and I am uncaring that the behavior was perpetrated by middle school children as opposed to adults. If they haven’t learned by middle school that this sort of behavior is unacceptable, then it’s high time they learned.

        Further, I’m inclined to believe that calling out bad behavior as bad will produce less bad behavior, based on my own experiences as a child — and that personalizing behavior in the person who exhibits that behavior is a powerful way to make that person take responsibility and ownership for it. Divorcing behavior from the person suggests that the person is somehow not responsible for their own behavior. When I misbehaved as a child, I found the moral condemnation of my parents to be decidedly uncomfortable. I thus learned (over time) to modify my behavior to elicit moral praise from them instead. I imagine most of people had similar sorts of experiences. So why would these kids be any different than you or I were?

        Do these delicate, unique snowflakes experience emotional distress at being called “monsters?” I suspect so. And maybe the woman they were taunting didn’t particularly enjoy being called “fat,” and this is an equivalent enough exercise to demonstrate the need for a little thing I call “empathy.”Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:


          When I say, “They’re just kids…” I do not mean it to excuse there behavior. At all. But it explains it, at least in part. Do you agree that we would look at the same incident involving adults differently?

          Something being understandable does not necessarily proceed to it being acceptable. There are aspects of being a child the age these children are that makes this sort of thing understandable. Nothing makes it acceptable.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      Evidently she doesn’t have to pay taxes on the donations.

      So she’ll get about $600,000 tax free.

      That’s definitely “go retire somewhere nice with a low cost of living” type money.Report

  2. Avatar Fnord says:

    While there’s certainly plenty wrong with the situation, and the kids involved ought to spend some afternoons cleaning sinks in detention…

    Can we have some persepective, please? The “monsters” are middle school students, and they aren’t even victimizing a vulnerable fellow student (at least at the moment), but an adult.

    And speaking of victimizing vulnerable fellow students instead of adults, I have very little doubt that the kids here have been at least this nasty to other children. In fact, I have a sinking suspicion that’s what emboldened them to post this video; they never got into serious trouble, much less became internet infamous, when their victims were other children.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    I got through about forty seconds of the video. What a pack of monsters.

    This is what children do. Children are boundlessly cruel.

    I just wish we could get past the Victorian affectation that sets up children as the pillars of innocence and morality. It’s one of the biggest lies ever told.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      The romanticization of children is a real problem.

      I know a lot of teachers who, upon seeing young children engaged in a dispute, will say, “Use your words,” and then become dismayed when the children choose words like, “Poopyhead”, “Stupid,” or the dreaded, “You can’t come to my birthday party.”

      “Why would they use such nasty words with each other?” they say.
      “Well, you told them to use words. They did. You didn’t tell them what words to use. And you can’t expect them to organically default to the type of language we want them to use. They default to whatever language they think will most effectively help them achieve their ends, regardless of the fallout. That tends to be negative, hurtful language,” I respond.
      “So what do I do?”
      “Teach them. Teach them the words. Over and over again. Teach them why those words are preferred and the harm done by the words they might be naturally inclined to use.”
      [Under breath] “Stupid poopyhead.”Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        +1 for a laugh at 6:30am.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        Children are tiny and innocent and cute.

        Right until the moment they realize they have the upper arm strength necessary to punch someone or throw things.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        They must be REALLY new teachers, because I’ve never met people quite as jaded about how wonderful kids are then, you know, teachers.

        Because you’d have to be pretty freakin’ green to the job to not realize that. 100+ kids a day, year in and year out? Yeah, you learn that kids can be nasty little monsters.

        On the bright side, assuming your degree is actually in education (or your state has a decent alternative certification course that handles it), all that childhood development stuff will at least explain why. Especially in the 5th through 8th grade years.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:


          I teach Pre-K. The good teachers understand the true nature of children, warts and all. It is the folks who got into early childhood because they think little kids are cute or just like playing with little kids who maintain this mindset far too long. They also tend to burn out and leave the field.

          I think my experience is also partly explained by a lot of teachers who assume that kids know exactly what they’re thinking and then are shocked when they act in a way that demonstrates otherwise. NEWSFLASH: Kids, especially young kids, have no idea what we’re thinking. To the extent that they will listen to us, they’ll often listen very specifically and won’t attempt to ascertain what you REALLY meant.

          A lot of teachers, far too many, truly are stupid. I’ll hold off on officially labeling them “poopy heads”.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Someone didn’t pay attention in their childhood development classes! (Or else went through one of those certification classes designed to get people with “real skills” into the classroom rather than fuddy-duddy old teachers with their useless degrees in ‘education’).

            Not that teacher burnout ain’t a real thing (it’s actually pretty bad) and I know a couple of people offhand who got in for the little angels and got out once they realized they weren’t….

            But seriously, what were you DOING in college if you don’t even grasp that? There are several classes that focus on how young brains work in any education degree! How to teach them, how to assess them, how they view things differently than adults…

            it’s the number one cause of shitty parenting — the belief that kids are minature adults. (You can, if you’re strict and harsh enough, make them act that way — but they’re just play-acting. They don’t think like adults. Mostly because the wiring isn’t fully done yet).Report

        • I’ve never met people quite as jaded about how wonderful kids are then, you know, teachers.


      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        > [Under breath] “Stupid poopyhead.”

        You meant that as a joke, but that’s what I’m talking about.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    At that age, peer pressure and peer approval are everything. If one or two of the kids with a lot of status starts it, the rest will join in. If the high-status kids say “Knock it off, that’s not cool”, the rest will stop, and whoever started it will get thrashed (verbally or physically.)Report

  5. I work with kids all day every day. Most of them are delightful, and the overlap between those kids and the ones with authoritative but loving parents is pretty uniform, but not perfect. Some kids are awesome and resilient and bright, despite parents who are ineffectual or indifferent. Some are… challenging, despite the best efforts of the attentive, decent people raising them. What accounts for the outliers is probably multifactorial (ie. “we don’t know), comprising innate temperament, peer influences, and the direction the wind was blowing when they were born.

    I have a pretty strict “no bullshit” policy in my office, which I stipulate in the sweetest and most unambiguous way possible when necessary. I would never, ever want to deal with children in packs above the age of, say, eight or nine. Middle schoolers? Forget it.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    You all might be interested in the statement of the school district about this, which seems to be about right.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I need to stress that we have a specific process that we must follow before imposing discipline on students. Discipline for public school students in New York State is handled under specific procedures set forth in the New York Education law. In the event that a district is seeking a suspension of more than five days, the district must prove the student’s violation of its Code of Conduct in a due process hearing before a hearing officer. If the student is found guilty, the hearing officer makes a recommendation for an appropriate period of suspension to the superintendent of schools. Each case is determined based upon the actions engaged in by the student as well as consideration of a student’s prior disciplinary record.

      They should be able to just expel the little bastards. Fishing unions!Report