{Mom, don’t read this one.}

The issue of bullying has reached a new pinnacle of importance with the recent news story of Karen Klein, the elderly bus monitor from Greece, N.Y., who was verbally tormented and even physically assaulted on video by several middle school boys on her school bus.

Bullying is never okay. NEVER. But there is something particularly sinister about a grandmother being on the receiving end of such merciless disrespect.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, I’m going to warn you, it will turn your stomach. I’d rather watch a live kitten be dissected than watch someone get bullied.

But maybe that’s because I was a teenage bully and seeing it from the eyes of a much older and wiser adult fills me with a deep sense of shame and regret.

Photo of Leslie in 7th grade wearing a Members Only jacket and sporting a mullet.

I may have looked like Kristy McNichol, but I was a sad little girl (with a mullet and a Members Only jacket.)

The first time I remember bullying someone was in 5th grade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My friends and I were walking home from school and I decided to show off by verbally harassing a younger girl who was walking ahead of us alone. She had a funny last name and I specifically remember teasing her about it and shouting derogatory names at her the whole way home.

It was despicable. I wish I could go back in time and throttle ten-year-old me.   Continue reading