Bullied Bus Monitor Donation Fund Reaches $500,000

June 22, 2012 Updated Jun 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM EDT

By John Borsa

...
June 22, 2012 Updated Jun 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The seventh grade boys recorded taunting their bus monitor are hiding out and speaking out, ducking death threats.

Overnight, the teens issued written apologies to their target, 68-year-old Karen Klein.

One boy wrote, "I am so sorry for the way I treated you. When I saw the video, I was disgusted and could not believe I did that."

The seventh grader who shot the video now says the taunting was just an attempt to attract online attention.

"I see people record bullying everyday on YouTube so I was like, why would this be a problem," said Luis Recio, Jr.

But they say they had no idea it would go this far. The video has now been watched by tens of millions of times. Their once desired fame -- now unwanted infamy.

And while Klein continues to garner support, the teens' families say they are living in fear, their names and addresses made public.

It's amazing that people would stick up for a lady that was being harassed," said the father of one of the boys involved. "But at the same time they're harassing my family and death threats, which doesn't make sense."

And the fundraising Website set up to send Klein on vacation, it's now bringing in thousands of dollars an hour, going from $5,000 to $500,000 in a few days.

The outpouring of support is not sitting well with some people on Facebook.

"It was a horrible situation but giving her money is a bit extreme," wrote one person on WKBW's Facebook page.

Another writes, "If she deserves a vacation than so does everyone else who has been bullied. Donate the money to charity."

"Anybody asking the question, does she deserve a million dollars, to me is a silly question," said Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University.

"The fact is she happened to be in a video where a certain thing was happening which somehow touched the emotions of an awful lot of people," he said.

Klein even got the support of well-known anti-bullying champion Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted "It breaks my heart. Bullying doesn't end when you grow up."