Australian Middle School Student, Casey Heynes was video taped fighting back when attacked by Richard Gale. Here’s the full interview.
I have a lot to say a bout this which I’ll share below the video.
What are your thoughts? Please feel free to share them below.
Here are mine:
First of all, around the same age as Casey, I too, started “standing up for myself”. Up to that point I just “took” the abuse that others dished out to me. Well meaning adults like my dad and mom started saying things to me like, “It’s time you stand up for yourself.”
But what does “standing up for yourself mean?”
Does it mean it’s okay to punch back? Even though it seems a guarantee of being suspended or sent to detention. Often it seems like the kid defending himself is the one a teacher sees throwing a punch. Often the kid who was simply “standing up for himself” gets punished and the instigator gets away.
At the time I didn’t have the tools that I teach in my Bullying Prevention programs to resolve things peacefully.
Just like Casey finally used the only resource he could access under the stress of being punched and taunted, I too punched back.
The thing that’s different today is that events like this get blasted throughout the world via YouTube and Facebook.
In my middle school days, the kids that I” stood up to” by punching back suddenly treated me with respect after that and most of them became my friends. In some ways they were testing me.
But, thanks to the publicity around this case, Richard Gale, the kid who is seen in the video punching Casey is now vilified throughout the world. He’s been labled, “Bully Richard Gale”. He will be haunted by that forever. Who knows what lasting effects it will have on him?
Imagine your child suddenly becoming the “villain”. No kid is perfect. We all have bad days. We all have behaved in ways we would be embarrassed to admit to today. We also tend to step into the roles that others assign to us.
If Casey had been taught some very simple and basic techniques to deal with teasing and name calling it is possible that things wouldn’t have gotten so far out of hand that he “snapped”. Teaching bullying victims how to defuse, deflect and distract the “bully” would have protected Richard from having his life destroyed by the media attention.
The other piece of this is that both boys were lucky that when Casey Heynes picked the smaller boy up and smashed him down on the cement, that it was his foot that hit the curb and not his head.
Please understand me, I am in no way condoning the unacceptable, aggressive “bullying” behavior of Richard Gale. He also gave an interview and in his mind, he is the victim. He claims Casey started it. Not many are believing that.
He’s going to need some help dealing with the outpouring of hate towards him from all over the world. Just skim through the nasty comments below any of the videos on YouTube. There has already been a fake Facebook account set up in his name!
This is his opportunity to really learn and grow.
But ultimately everybody always thinks they are the victim.
It is my personal opinion that we need to seriously “victim proof” our kids. We need to start early teaching them how to not take other people’s opinions personally. We’ve inundated them with slogans and posters exhorting them to be kind, respectful, considerate, caring, polite but no one is teaching kids how to be calm under pressure. Why don’t we teach our kids how to think clearly without getting lost in their emotional reactions?
Because most adults don’t know how to think clearly when under emotional stress either.
Of course that’s what I’m trying to do in my work with kids, parents, teachers and administrators. I’m trying to teach kids as well as adults the things that would have positively changed my life forever if I had only known them when I was standing in Casey Heynes shoes.
Personally I hold both boys and their families in my thoughts. There are no bad kids. Only good kids dealing with stress and pressure in their lives in the only way they know how. If we can give them some other positive resources to respond to adversity in their lives, we can make a difference.
I welcome your thoughts about this.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out my book or my bullying prevention songs I hope you’ll take a moment to do so (they are freed) and pass those tools along to someone who might need them. It’s a small thing but it’s a start.
Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below.