You may have noticed a YouTube video that was making the rounds last week of a school kid being picked on by a younger bully. He is punched in the face and stomach before the tables are turned and he picks up the bully and slams him down on the ground. The victim of bullying in the video is named Casey Heynes. Casey is a 15-year old from Australia who became an overnight hero for fighting back against his bully.
If you haven’t seen the original video yet, check it out below. You can see from the video that 12-year old bully Richard Gale approaches Casey and starts picking on him, punching him in the face and in the stomach. Having had enough, Casey picks Richard up and slams his body down on the ground.
Both boys were suspended from school following the incident, according to the school’s zero violence policy. However, the video rapidly spread on YouTube and around the web, turning Casey Heynes into an overnight celebrity – the poster child for an anti-bullying movement. Support for Casey swelled all over the web. On Facebook, one Casey Heynes fan page has nearly 150,000 likes and YouTube responses were uploaded with people talking about how this is a win for the victim. Sometimes when you’ve got to stand up for yourself if you want to make the bullying stop. That’s what Casey did. Even the bully’s mother said in an interview that her son got what he deserved. Casey was also dubbed ‘Casey the Punisher’ by fans, and his story was even animated by Taiwanese animators, NMA Animation.
Over the weekend, Casey spoke out on Australia’s A Current Affair. He talked about the incident, as well as what it’s been like to become an overnight star for people everywhere who have been bullied. Casey explains, “I actually snapped and grabbed him, picked him up off the ground and threw him to the ground in self defense…I was just looking at him, I wasn’t really thinking…All I wanted was it to stop.”
Casey says, “People get bullied all the time”, which is why he thinks that there has been such a positive reaction to this video and why he is being hailed as a hero.
It’s no surprise that there has been such a positive outcry for this victim of bullying who finally fought back. Especially considering the recent suicides that came as a result of bullying. But while Casey is being hailed as a hero, the title of villain has been reserved for the bully, Richard Gale. Richard was interviewed on Australia’s Today Tonight to share his side of the story. Richard doesn’t deny that he was acting as a bully, but he also says that the video doesn’t tell the whole story. He claims that Casey abused him first, saying something like, “Get to class, you idiot,” and hitting him first.
Whether or not you believe Casey or Richard, I think that this incident brings up some important questions for discussion. People from around the world resoundingly supported Casey in the incident, including his parents and sister (who says she gave him a high-five when she found out about it) and even the bully’s own mother. Nearly all of the pro-Casey commenters said something along the lines of, “I definitely don’t condone violence, but I’m so glad that Casey stood up for himself and body-slammed that bully. Awesome!” But to me, this assessment of the situation has very sad implications. Those implications seem to be that when someone is being bullied or harassed, the only way to actually make it stop is by picking them up and body slamming them. Is it possible not to condone violence, except in certain cases?
Of course, after this whole ordeal Casey isn’t likely to be picked on again. But is he setting a precedent for victims of bullying everywhere to start body slamming their bullies?
I think that, more than focusing on this video as illustrating Casey as a hero for body slamming a bully, we can see this video as a great example of the kind of toll the pressure of being bullied takes on kids. After years of being victimized Casey said he just snapped. He barely even knew what he was doing. He just wanted the bullying to stop, once and for all. He also talks about how he was driven to suicidal thoughts at one point, because of the bullying. He and his classmates are lucky that his breaking point only resulted in him throwing Richard to the ground and not something even more serious. Bullying is, after all, quite a serious matter. Parents out there, you may want to use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about bullying.
What’s your take on the spread of this video, Casey’s rise to Internet stardom and the incident as a whole? What implications do you think this incident will have on bullies and victims around the world?