PACIFIC WAVE JIU-JITSU

Standing up to Bullies: The Case of Casey Heynes

YouTube is a fascinating phenomenon. People post their videos and the ones that touch people’s hearts, whether it’s in a good or bad way, can become massively viral. This was the case with a simple video of Casey Heynes, a boy who finally fought back after years of being bullied.

If you haven’t already seen the video, here is an Australian news report that both shows the video and an interview with the boy who stood up for himself and his family members:

Bullying is such a nasty expression of human nature. I can relate to Casey Heynes myself. I was also bullied when I was young. Anyone can be singled out and targeted by bullying but it happens most to kids who don’t have close enough friends who are willing to stand up for them. Other kids just find reasons to pick on them (i.e. fat, nerdy, ugly, weird, etc), but really they just want to make themselves feel stronger by picking on someone that’s an easy target. That’s what happened to me.

The bullying that happens to girls is often much worse, in my opinion. If a boy is being hit or held down or bullied in a physical way, all the child needs do is fight back in a no-nonsense way. If they do it once, they almost never need to do it again. Even if they don’t fight back, school teachers are more likely to see it happening, break it up and take serious disciplinary action. But with girls, it is usually psychological. They call the girl names and rarely do anything that teachers would notice and put an end to. Even worse, sometimes kids will pretend to be the girl’s friend for awhile then cast them out saying things like, “I can’t believe you thought you could actually hang out with us…etc.” That’s one of the worst forms of girl bullying. Of course, this sort of bullying is not necessarily exclusive to girls. It can happen to boys too.

There is no way to verbally fight back against this type of bullying. When I did try to stand up to them, by calling them names back, they would just laugh and say, “Ooooooh. Big words for a loser!” or that sort of thing. I wish I could say that I came up with some creative way to play a prank on the boys and girls that bullied me, and that I was able stand up to them in some big dramatic way that ended the situation like you see in the movies. Instead, I just kept telling myself that it would be different when I got to high school and that I just had to not let it get to me while I waited it out. I put up with teasing and pranks for about 3 years until I finally made a friend in grade 8 who was popular enough that I stopped being a target. The year after that, I went to high school and there were so many more people it wasn’t hard to find friends that I could relate to and those friends I made for life. I also found satisfying hobbies, having started fencing in grade 8, followed by Jiu-jitsu in grade 11.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is to end bullying, even having been a victim myself, I really can’t see what schools can do to stop it. I can’t think of a thing that teachers could have done to help me in my case. If I told a teacher or a teacher had heard it happening and intervened, I would have just got bullied even more. And when it comes to fighting back against physical bullying, nowadays many schools have a no-tolerance approach to violence. Even in the Casey Heynes case, both kids were suspended from school. This takes away a child’s right to defend themselves, not just to a one-time assault but to a pattern of assaults that can last for years.

Of course with the case of Casey Heynes, he was much bigger than the boy assaulting him and he could have very seriously injured him. Fortunately, this did not happen, but the potential was there. This is probably why schools have no-tolerance policies to violence. But then what was Casey supposed to do? Just stand there and get hit? It’s not that easy to simply walk away from a fight. And what if the other boys had jumped in to join the fight? Is he just supposed to take that too?

Well, I know I can’t fix everything with a single blog post, but maybe you have ideas. Are there any teachers or parents out there who want to share how they would handle the problem of bullying? I welcome your comments.

Martial Arts Perth

Comments (4)

4 thoughts on “Standing up to Bullies: The Case of Casey Heynes

  1. I think it's down to the school to create an maintain an ethos in which bullying is not acceptable, and is dealt with immediately. I teach in the inner city of London, where bullying is almost considered to be acceptable by the families that make up the demographic population of the school.

    If schools provide a supportive and risk free environment for victims to come forward, masses of evidence can be quickly stockpiled to demonstrate a pattern of bullying behaviour. The offending child and parents can be confronted with it. In the interests of saving face, this can be done quietly to begin with, but the consequences for future transgressions must be made very clear to both child and parents. If it continues the sanctions need to come into effect, and other children need to see it happening.

  2. Hey Lori,

    Powerful video! I was a bigger kid like this boy and things turned around for me in the 5th grade after my dad told me it was ok to stand up for my self and also taught me the old one-two punch.

    Back then schools spanked kids that misbehaved and I actually felt the board of education (had holes in it to be more aerodynamic. I don't really want to explore the merits of this approach but to say it was a different time.

    First off here if I was a parent in the US and my kid was suspended for defending him/herself I would immediately sue the school. Luckily the laws of the states (which recognize self-defense) trump any local school district that does not want to supervise their students and subsequently investigate fights to place proper blame (sorry I do feel strongly about this issue).

    Getting to dealing with physical bullying – teach kids how to defend themselves and let them know it is the right thing to do. Kids that fight back are bullied less in most cases because bullies are cowards and want to pick on the easy targets.

    I once talked my way out of a fight by telling the older kid loudly that I did not want to fight and it was not fair because he had a whole extra year to develop his muscles. Somehow that worked… I think I shamed him into backing off – picking on the younger kid type of thing.

    As far as verbal abuse. I put up with plenty of that too. I used to be called John Zipper or zipper (instead of Zimmer). That hurt because I knew the kids were trying to get my goat.

    My mom told me the old adage, "sticks and stones will break your bones but name will never hurt me."

    That did not help much but when I started fighting back – the name calling finally stopped.

    I don't think I added much to this conversation. 🙂

  3. I tend to agree with a no tolerance policy at schools. I do believe that everyone has the right to defend themselves but an absolute stance against any bullying does deter the majority of bullying, at least the physical kind. It's about everyone joining together to absolutely prohibit the activity. The bully knows that no one is going to encourage or support the behaviour. This approach isn't perfect but if every case of bullying, verbal or otherwise, is dealt with swiftly and decisively, some progress can be made.

    The verbal bullying is far more insidious. It can stay with people for their entire lives. The other important issue that is now surfacing is cyber-bullying. This has opened up a huge environment where bullies can thrive. Sadly, this sometimes means the safe haven of home is affected.

    I wish I had the answers, but I do know that parents and teachers have to make sure they show a united front against bullying.

    I absolutely hate bullying. Maybe that's part of the reason I do what I do…

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