Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Case of Casey Heynes

Many of you will have seen the video.

It's in Sydney, Australia, though it could be in any school on the planet.

A smaller, skinny kid, watched by an admiring circle of friends, decided to punch Casey Heynes, 15, who is clearly in role as The Fat Kid Who's There To Be Bullied, in the face.

Skinny Kid jumps about a bit and punches Casey once.

He tries to punch him again but Casey deflects the blow.

He tries to punch him for a third time and Casey picks him up, holds him in the air for a fraction of a second and then smashes him to the ground.

The video of this went viral all over the world - although Youtube keep taking it down as it's so violent you can find it in a second by googling "Casey Heynes".

I heard an interview on the radio with a representative of an anti-bullying organisation saying that violence is never the answer and they would never suggest that victims of bullying turn to violence in this way. What if Skinny Kid had landed on that concrete edge and fractured his skull and died? Yes, it's a fair point. I can see why they said it.

However, that response misses the main point. You can see from the video that Casey didn't choose the violent response - he just snapped after years and years of bullying.

It's hard for anyone who's ever been bullied, or who knows anyone who's ever been bullied - - and I bet that those together add up to most of us - to react in any way other than a loud inward cheer for Casey.

I hope that it won't cause more people to "have a go" at him in future. The school has suspended both boys as they have a strong anti-fighting policy which had clearly failed miserably in preventing him being bullied every single day he's been there.

I think that this interview throws up an interesting point. If you look at Casey, okay, he's somewhat overweight - - but that's it. Nothing else that instantly suggests why he might be a target of bullying.

He's articulate, clean and if he sheds some of that weight could quickly metamorphose from Fat Lad into Good-Looking Hunk.

So why was he bullied? Because he'd somehow fallen into the position of Victim of Bullying and his friends had deserted him, fearful of becoming victims themselves.

Why has the video struck such a chord? Because this kind of thing is happening in every school throughout the land. Which land? Any land. Every land. Any school that says "there's no bullying here" is lying.

It carries on into the workplace too, in a subtler form. It's human nature, sadly: though it isn't in the nature of every human being. I hope that this video has at least raised awareness of bullying. Perhaps it might provoke some children to tell of the daily horrors that are happening to them. And when they do, I hope they'll be believed, and taken seriously.


Blogger aerate harsh ladle said...

I have a class of low-ability 12/13 year olds and I witness bullying every lesson. It makes me really, really cross, and I sometimes get upset about it (in front of them, on occasion). The thing is, I KNOW they're apeing their parents. I can see it in their actions, and hear it in their words. There's the rub. It's 'hereditary', and I hate it.

6:01 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

Bullying seems to be an ever-increasing aspect of our society these days and difficult to deal with.

6:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, a wolf pack has an omega male that gets picked on, along with the (top-dog) alpha male... so bullying is found in nature too. And if you take the omega male out of the pack, they just pick on a new wolf to be the omega male. Not an excuse/reason for bullying but interesting all the same.

8:09 pm  
Blogger Jan Blawat said...

I never saw bullying at my son's Waldorf school (he was there from grades 5-8). The teachers there were really good at putting a positive spin on things, giving the kids lots of opportunity to help each other and care for each other. I know that sounds trite, but somehow it worked. Son' and classmates are 25 now and they're all still very good friends. The kids at the public school he went to in the earlier grades would have been kinder if that behavior was modeled there and rewarded. It wasn't. It was such a sad and tense place.

4:07 am  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

I hadn't seen the video until you pointed it out. Two things struck me about the kid doing the bullying: first, all that dancing on his toes like a martial arts star and second that he was a lot smaller that Casey, so obviously wasn't expecting any retaliation.

As I know from within my own family, bullying is reported, but schools seem unwilling to acknowledge its existence, or at least they did a few years ago.

1:25 pm  

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