Big kid gets bullied one too many times, Part Three

Here’s a video interview with Casey Heynes, giving his part of the story of how he was bullied:

Some key points here:

  • The bullying had been going on for years.
  • His bully in the video, Richard Gale, had been targeting him for weeks already before the incident.
  • Casey didn’ t retaliate or fight back prior to this.

The question I want to ask all those “Violence never solves anything!” advocates is this:

How far should Casey have let things go before he was “justified” in fighting back?

Should he have let himself be bullied for years first? Check.

Should he have let it devolve to the point of physical violence? Check.

Should he have let it get to where they tie him up to induce psychological torture (if you haven’t been tied up against your will before as a child, shut up before you say something stupid…)? Check.

So what else should he have allowed to happen to him before you think he was justified in putting an end to the bullying?

The school, the parents or other children sure didn’t stop the bullies. So the only person who could do something was Casey himself. And he did. Which I applaud him for. It takes a lot of guts to finally fight back, especially if you’ve been victimized for years. Here’s hoping this incident and the wave of sympathy he’s getting now serves him as an important life lesson: nobody will stand up for you if you don’t stand up for yourself first.

A quick note to the ‘violence is always wrong.” crowd: my question was rhetorical, no need to respond. You wouldn’t understand anyway.


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  1. Here is a fine example of a real man. Way to go Casey!

  2. So great to hear his story in his own words. The bullying must have been horrific for him to snap like that. The poor kid was too kind to do anything about it until now. Yes Wim, sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.

  3. Interesting set of posts Wim. While it’s easy to chime in and say ‘well done Casey’, my guess is that his case is exceptional. Bullies, much like hyenas, usually go for weaker prey; this bully screwed up big time. I think advocating violence as a solution to bullying is all well and good if (and this is a very big if) the person getting bullied is better at violence than the bully. Given that bullies are typically going to select victims that either cant or wont fight back, either by being physically superior or by using force of numbers, this isn’t usually the case. This bully picked the wrong victim at the wrong time, leading to very entertaining results.

    As a father of two girls (7 & 11) who are both small for their age, without brothers to constantly fight with, the potential for bullying is a concern. Luckily both of them love their Karate, and my elder girl also boxes, which helps even things up at bit. Not that they’re necessarily going to win a fight if bullied, but they’d exchange blows to the extent that most bullies would go and find an easier target.

    I’d imagine for many youngsters in a similar situation, trying to emulate Casey would not be the smartest option. He was considerably bigger, stronger and older than his aggressor, which is unusual. Resorting to violence, if the odds are stacked against you, doesn’t seem clever. I’d say either get better at violence, or formulate an alternative strategy. The fine line between bravery and foolhardiness lies in picking your fights carefully.

    • I understand what you’re saying Shane but only agree in part. IMO, the victim of bullying doesn’t necessarily need to win the fight. What he needs to do is stop being a victim, an easy prey. Bullies indeed go for weaker targets. That is, targets they perceive to be weak. So you have to change that perception. The best way to do that is make them pay a price for attacking you. Even if you don’t “win”, they’ll remember they paid a price too. And it sucked. So the chances of them looking for an easier target increase the more you make them pay.
      Also, being a victim of bullying can be a life-crippling trauma. Standing up for yourself and fighting back is also a way to regain some basic human dignity. Winning isn’t the goal then either; not being a doormat is.

      For the record: I didn’t say victims of bullies should just go nuts and start dealing out harsh violence. The problem is more complex than that. But the whole “violence is always wrong” attitude is part of the problem, not the solution.

      • Hi Wim,

        I’m not disputing that “violence is always wrong” is indeed part of the problem, just saying that if you are going to react to a violent situation with more violence, it benefits hugely to have some experience. Most kids I’ve known, particularly younger kids, fight at some point. Personally, I think this is a normal part of growing up, and can’t think of any lads of my generation that weren’t involved in a few tussles in the school yard at some point or other. The problem arises with the kids who have never been in a fight, possibly because of an over protective home environment. These kids are being set up to become the bullies’ victim, and when they to react violently are either going to fail miserably or go way over the top with the damage they do. Fair play to Casey for getting it right first time, but a very minor change in how he dropped the guy would have landed him on his head on what appeared to be concrete. Wouldn’t have been such a heart lifting story if the other lad had ended up in a wheel chair.

        As you say, the victim of bullying doesn’t have to win the fight to stop the bullying, but he/she does have to manage a reasonable level of response. If it’s totally feeble, its could just be a green light to every other bully in the vicinity. If it’s over the top, it’s likely to invite far more serious reprisals. IMO, a healthy dose of play fighting in the early years does no harm at all.

        Just my 2c, trying to think back the many decades to when I was in the school yard. I’m pretty sure that bumps, bruises, scrapes and the odd black eye were pretty much part of the school uniform ;)


        • Hi Shane,

          I had the exact same discussion on another forum. I understand what you’re saying and it would be great if it worked that way but I don’t think it does. Sure, experience does help and anything you do to help the kid manage the situation correctly is a good idea. But to hold him to such a standard of getting use of force right when he is scared out of his mind, still a kid, has no real experience, etc. seems unrealistic to me. We expect such a standard from our LEOs and they’ll be the first to admit that it’s really hard in real life to get the violence you use juuuuuuuuust right.
          IMHO, that’s not how violence works; It’s an ugly and totally unpredictable beast. You never know which way it’ll go. I’ve hit people with my best shot and had them glare at me. Others, I barely touched and they took a nap. And that’s after decades of training. So expecting a kid like Casey to get it right the first time or at all is a tall order. I’m not sure he can fill it.

          Re. what would have happened if Richard Gale had landed on his head instead of the way he did. Here’s how I replied in the other forum:
          If you want to play "what if":
          What if the bully's first punch had connected better and the victim's head snapped back into the wall, causing him to drop unconscious. And break his skull on the concrete as he hit the floor.
          What would have been the proper response then? Should he have let that happen to him before doing a "careless" technique just so it's proportionate? Wait, by that time it's too late…

          I think your standard of "careful throwing" is one that is out of reach for most civilians, kids or adults alike. Some of the really well trained and experienced people here on the list might be able to pull it off. But I doubt it's a realistic option for a 12-year old who has to face a bully for the 365460th time.

          Violence happens. Appropriate levels depending on the situation are best chosen by the participants, not by us, onlookers from a distance.

          The bottom line is that the bully picked on the wrong target and paid for it in pain. Yes, it could have been worse but that was a risk he chose to take when he threw the first punch. It could just as well have been worse for his victim.
          If you go and ram a stick up a tiger's ass, you shouldn't complain he rips you to shreds when you find out the cage wasn't locked. Nobody's going to tell the tiger he could have limited himself to a casual swipe of the paw before extracting the stick, because, well, it didn't go in all that deep after all.

  4. @ Shane, I do kind of understand what you are saying, but did you really listen to what Casey said during his interview? He seriously contemplated suicide because of all the bullying. How disgusting and sad is that, that this fine young man was so verbally, emotionally, and physically tortured (and yes it is torture), that he contemplated ending his own life so that the pain and humiliation would just stop. I have no sympathy for that little bastard or any of the other kids that tormented Casey for all these years. That kid only got about 10% of what he truly deserves, and the others haven’t got their just desserts yet.

    @ Wim, absolutely LOVE your analogy. Hee Hee Hee

    “If you go and ram a stick up a tiger’s ass, you shouldn’t complain he rips you to shreds when you find out the cage wasn’t locked.”

    If you don’t mind I am going to use that line in class tonight and in future teaching sessions. I use a similar line when teaching my students that goes like this…

    “The surest way to ensure that you go home safely and without injuries when dealing with me is simple. Leave me the fuck alone!”

  5. @ Shawn, I’ve no problem at all with what Casey did, and I have no sympathy whatsoever for the bully. What concerns me is that it got that far. Did the father who was lauding his son as a hero on the TV after the event really have no idea of the pain Casey was going through for the years before? While Casey’s story is an easy one to rally around, how many more similar stories have tragic outcomes. Reason I ask is that as a parent, I’m keen to set my kids up as survivors rather than victims, so far as is reasonably possible. As such, I’m thinking the whole ‘turn the other cheek’ approach has more than a few problems. Parenting is hit and miss for sure, and kids don’t come with a manual. Kids also have to fight their own battles at some point or other, and I’m guessing earlier is better than later here.

    @Wim, I bow to your superior knowledge of violence, and of course you’re right that as soon as you go down the ‘what if’ road, you can paint any outcome you want to suit your own arguments. While I like your analogy from the bullies perspective, I’d say that from a potential victims perspective it is important not to be the weakest wildebeest in the herd when the predators are hungry.

  6. great debate. would have to side with wim’s point of view but great points brought up by shane. bottom line for me is that people like caseys are not abandoned to bullies. personally i think most of the general adult population have very little idea of just how vicious young bullies can be. where i grew up, caseys fight and its result were not exceptional – maybe i’m biased because i came from a rough background but i seriously doubt it. if the authorites and the parents do not want to intervene and help, or are too laden with procedure & protocol, then f**k it – its clearly a very serious game of psychological and physcial survival – casey fought because he was a nervous wreck. i know what it was like to be threathened by a strong kid or a group of kids and to live in heightened state of torment trying to avoid getting badly beat. i also know what it is like to vindicate yourself by standing your ground – how many of the reactive naysayers of violence truely know what its like to walk amongst wolves?

  7. The individuals who say that there is never an excuse for violence have either learned to swallow any bullying they might have endured, or have never been bullied themselves.
    When a child defends him/herself, they dont think about the consequences of their actions, they just want the hurt to stop and will go to any length to do so. This boils down to parenting. If a child feels it is okay to treat another person like this with out repercussion, what does that say about his parenting, or lack there of. How can a child who is being bullied be punished in anyway for defending himself, especially if he had brought it to the attention of adults and nothing sufficient was done about it? We tell our children to do whats right, to defend those that cant defend themselves, so how can we punish them for defending themselves when noone else would.
    I do not understand the policy of a school that will punish someone for trying to protect themselves to the same degree that they punish the individual that was doing the bullying…
    Everyone has their limit on what they can take, self control is something you develope with age and expeirience, so what else would you expect a child to do in this situation….. The same thing any adult would do…. fight back…

  8. I have studied traditional Japanese martial arts for 15 years now and I must say I agree with WIm. I have learned that I do not need to fight unless I have no other choice available to me. That being said, I didn’t always know martial arts and I have been bullied before. I was not concerned with how well I would or even what I was going to do. I just knew that I had to do something. Besides, my dad told me the night before “If he does it again, make a believer out of him.”. I didn’t know what I was going to make him “believe” in, but I knew that if he picked on me again he would “believe” in not doing it again. Long story short, I invented the thong. Poor kid had been wedgied so unbelievably bad they had to pry the underwear from his ass-crack. Might be a bit of an over exaggeration, but hey, it worked. I call it the bleeding wedgie. After it was all said and done, I felt better about sticking up for myself and I never had to deal with that kid again all throughout school.

  9. Great debate! I’m glad the only thoughts I had at first as a kid was being too scared to fight back and then after my dad and mom told me it was ok to fight back and my dad taught me the the old one-two – I did fight back and stopped being a target!

    One thing… if at first a kid cannot fight too well… a little practice and skill training will make a world of difference! It did for me.

    By the way… I wish we lived in a world where people and countries resolved differences peaceably and heaven forbid… if we every meet aliens – worlds resolve differences peaceably… I don’t think we are quite there yet. :)

  10. I must say it is a great debate but i agree with Shane saying ” Did the father who was lauding his son as a hero on the TV after the event really have no idea of the pain Casey was going through for the years before? ” I mean really whenever my kid gets home from school i notice his moods, my son has fallen victim to bullying and i put a stop to it because i noticed it. He now comes home and says hes had a great day at school. For Caseys father to say he did inform the school and they done nothing is a real slack effort! If they didnt do anything you simply didnt try hard enough mate!

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