I don’t know how many of you have heard, but a 16-year-old named Casey Heynes from Australia has become an internet sensation after video surfaced of a smaller, younger kid, apparently bullying him. The kid was hitting him and Casey hit back, picking up the 12-year-old and body slamming him. The boy wasn’t seriously hurt and Casey was suspended.
Support gathered around Casey, congratulating him for standing up and understanding that he snapped after years of being bullied. This raises the serious question of whether violence is ever appropriate. No, we don’t want to ever encourage violence or outbursts, but I don’t think it was fair that he was suspended. When you’re bullied, you feel powerless and that often begets anger, which is then suppressed because you’re in a situation where telling a teacher might be just as bad as letting the bullying continue.
For one who is bullied, there is no way to fight back. Words give the bully attention, which leads to more bullying. Ignoring it may cause it to go away, but it does nothing to erase feeling like utter sh*t. And it’s just as likely that they’ll continue because they see it upsets you (there’s nothing you can do about that, either) and they know eventually, you will react. Which, again, leads to more bullying.
This is the life of a bullied child. I know because I remember it happening to me.
Go to a teacher? It might shut the bully up for that class, but what about the next? What about after school? Especially now, when the internet gives bullies twenty-four hour access to victims?
Go to a parent? Another iffy situation. Some parents want you to “tough it out.” Some go to the school, which will get you labeled as a snitch and a baby.
It’s not easy. So I understand why this kid snapped, and I hate that he was suspended. When a bullied kid loses control, it is rarely violent, but it often results in negative consequences. I was yelled at dozens of times by teachers because I yelled at kids bullying me. Once, I was given a detention because a teacher was sick of hearing me say “Stop it.” Another time, I pushed a girl for calling me a bitch and was given detention for that, too.
From what I’ve read, Casey Heynes is not a troublemaker and he’s not a normally violent person. He didn’t know how to stand up for himself and just lost it after what classmates agree was years of being bullied.
It isn’t fair that he’s being punished because of it.
Later, the bully was interviewed and he claimed Casey was making up the stories about being bullied and was himself a bully.
Which I don’t believe for a second. Because this is the exact same line a bully used when I complained about her behavior.
Back in middle school, one particular girl (who I’ll call “Jamie” just to make things easier) really had it out for me. Name calling, rumors, saying bad things about me behind my back—actually behind my back. I was in the seat in front of her and she knew I could hear what she was saying. She did it all. Except for physical violence, the one thing that would really get her in trouble.
One day, we were both sent to the guidance counselor. I explained how much Jamie was bullying me and the counselor turned to her to ask if it was true.
She burst into tears. She was scared of me, she said. “She said she has an enemies list and I’m really scared now. I’m afraid to come into school every day because she might shoot me.”
None of this was remotely true. She took it from something I said years before, when someone told me a girl said something nasty about me. I was frustrated and said something like, “it isn’t fair that there’s nothing I can do except list her under people who don’t like me.” And then it got yanked around to what Jamie was crying about to the guidance counselor.
I was dismissed. Jamie stayed because she really had to talk about all the bad things in her life.
The point is, when confronted with their behavior, bullies take the specter of truth and twist it in any way they can to make themselves the victims. No matter who was violent that day, no matter how much this kid cries, he was the bully. Not Casey.