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Family of bullied bus monitor asks for threats against students to stop

By Sarah Aarthun, CNN
updated 2:14 AM EDT, Sat June 23, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "That's another form of bullying," Karen Klein's daughter says of threats made against kids
  • The father of one boy says his son is "depressed" and "in shock"
  • Karen Klein is weighing whether to return to her job
  • Donations have poured in since video of the bullying went viral

(CNN) -- The family of New York bus monitor Karen Klein -- who has gained sympathy worldwide after a video of seventh-graders brutally taunting her while on the job went viral this week -- is asking for the harassment of the children to stop.

"Between all of us, we don't feel that's right by any means," Klein's daughter, Amanda Romig, told CNN on Friday. "We would like people to stop harassing the family and the kids. That's another form of bullying."

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The video recorded by a fellow student sparked a storm of criticism against the boys, who attend middle school in the Rochester suburb of Greece.

The father of 13-year-old Wesley, one of the four boys involved in the incident, told CNN his son is "pretty depressed" and "somewhat in shock" by the level of attention the video has received and the vitriol directed at the students.

"I think the lesson's learned," he told Anderson Cooper. "This whole thing that we've been through is going to scar our family for life. This is life-changing. ... I don't see this ever happening again."

The family has received "numerous death threats," the father said, as well as people coming to their house and banging on the door after their phone number and address were posted on the Internet.

"It's gotten to the point where we don't want to leave the house," he said, describing the atmosphere as "very tense."

Greece police Capt. Steve Chatterton also called for the harassment to stop, even while acknowledging that police, too, "felt everyone's pain" in watching the video.

"There's not going to be a whole lot of remorse for the children," he said Thursday. "And people aren't going to feel real sorry for them. But they've received death threats. We've received 911 calls to their home saying someone was holding them hostage. That's not funny, that's a crime, that's a form of bullying."

Meanwhile, Klein continues to adjust to the attention and emotions spurred by the video's posting. Supporters worldwide have donated more than $575,000 online so far through the international crowd-funding site, Indiegogo.com. The site launched the effort to send Klein on vacation after the video surfaced. And Southwest Airlines announced this week that it would send her and nine others on an all-expense-paid trip to Disneyland.

Klein told CNN she's thinking about quitting her job and doing volunteer work after some supporters suggested the donations were enough for retirement.

"I thought, 'That's not a bad idea!' " she said.

She's also weighing donating some of the money to organizations benefiting autism and Down syndrome causes, said Romig, her daughter. Klein wants to raise awareness because of family members with autism and Down syndrome, who might also be victims of bullying, Romig said.

As for her own bullies, Wesley's father visited her on Thursday to express his apologies and his mother wrote a note "to say how sorry she was and how sick it made her to see that her son was involved in this," according to Romig.

"I think he was sincere," Klein said of the father's visit, but expressed doubt over the apologies she's gotten so far from some of the boys. "I don't really think they're sorry. Sorry they got caught, yes, that would be more like it."

Klein said one boy wanted to come to her home to speak with her, "But I said no, because I wasn't ready to look at his face."

But she added that may change after she's able to get away on the trip provided by Southwest: She's taking her two daughters and six grandchildren to Disneyland.

CNN's Maggie Leung and David Puente contributed to this report.

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