By Greg Botelho, CNN
(CNN) – Karen Klein is probably not the first face that comes to mind when you think of a poster child for bullying.
Yet there she was, sitting in the back of Bus 784 as it rolled through the streets of Greece, New York, on Monday afternoon. Four middle school boys barraged her with verbal abuse, jabbing her about her weight, attacking her family and chuckling as they made violent and graphic threats. Except for a few even-keeled retorts, the 68-year-old bus monitor brushed sweat from her brow and remained quiet, peering up front and out her window, seemingly waiting for her hellish ride to end.
Her suffering may have gone unnoticed had not one of the young teenagers posted a 10-minute video of the harassment on YouTube.
By Wednesday, police were interviewing Klein and her alleged verbal abusers. And by the next day, as the video began going viral, she had become a cause célèbre.
Her torment became a prism through which total strangers the world round characterized her experience as symbolic of everything wrong with modern-day parenting, children and more. Beyond anger, some expressed sadness for the seemingly defenseless older woman who, they felt, bravely suffered the slings and arrows flung at her for no good reason at all.
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