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Guest Post – Schoolyard Bullying and the glamour of violence

Casey Haynes, of Sydney, Australia, became an international celebrity when he struck back at his bully, body-slamming the smaller boy into a concrete walkway and apparently breaking his leg. That one decisive and angry action has supposedly turned things around for Casey. He’s now the “bully hero.” People around the world are supporting the boy who stood up to his bully.

Ironically, many of them are striking out themselves at Richard Gale, the young boy who first attacks Casey in the video. He’s been threatened and tormented by online comments and through Facebook groups. Many of those who have left frightening and violent messages for the boy claim to have been victims of bullies themselves. The families of the two boys have managed to have the video pulled from Youtube in the hopes of calming the fires a little. Yet the boys are both the subject of a great deal of very stressful international attention.

Richard also claims he himself was bullied; that’s what led to his attack on Casey. In an exclusive interview he did with Today/Tonight reporter James Thomas, Richard revealed that he had been bullied from a young age and that torment had led him to react in anger whenever anyone taunted or teased him. Casey, according to Richard, had made fun of him, leading to the attack where Richard punches Casey.

Casey’s story is very different. And the video, with Richard’s friends filming and egging him on certainly leads us to think that Casey was, indeed, the victim. Regardless of the actual circumstances, both boys said they reacted out of anger and both sets of parents say their child reacted in a way that doesn’t suit their character.

What does this video, and the subsequent international support, teach children? Around the world, parents and teachers have always told their children to stand up to their bullies. Many are told that if they stand up, the bullying will stop.

Is violence the answer to bullying? Is punching the answer to taunts and body-slamming the answer to punching?
The most telling moment in the video comes at the end when another, older, student intervenes to keep Richard and his friends from going after Casey again. Without her action, the situation could have quickly escalated.

Isn’t that girl the real hero in this video? In a study on peer interactions in bullying, Dr. D Pepler, of the Lemarsh Research Centre on Violence and Conflict Resolution, found that while 41% of children report that they try to help when someone’s being bullied, in actual fact only one time out of ten do they intervene.

In that same report, Dr. Pepler found that peers support bullies in 81% of bullying episodes. The boys egging Richard on behind the camera certainly fit that description. One wonders if Richard had been put up to the act by his friends, who were prepared with cameras rolling to film what they expected to be Casey’s comeuppance.
Like fans at a prizefight, those boys were thrilled with the violent spectacle before them.

In the end, however, two boys were hurt; a real hero was ignored; and the boys who made the film and the people who have left violent comments have not been impacted in any way.
In order to stop bullying, we have to put aside the titillating glamour of violence. Like the girl in the video, we need to be willing to step in and say “stop.” The most telling information from Dr. Pepler’s study? In only 4% of bullying incidents do teachers get involved. The rest they ignore or don’t see.

It’s time to stop blaming and depending upon children. As parents of bullies and victims, as teachers, as adult members of society, we need to accept responsibility. We can start with not insulting and abusing young bullies and not watching every violent YouTube video someone posts.

Chubby Kid Bodyslams Bully – Watch more Funny Videos


  1. Lada MacManus

    I’m not a parent and I’m not involved with young people in any way.
    I’m not sure when things changed but I was never told to stand up to the bullies. At least, I was never told that, in fact I was encouraged not to because it would be descending to their level and/or would make things worse in the long run.

    I know that using shame to encourage people to change & conform just doesn’t work and probably encourages bullying. Adults are key and they need to model proper behavior in person and on the internet.

  2. Dana K

    I was always taught to stand up for myself. Standing up for yourself doesn’t necessarily equal responding with violence. Much like the girl who stepped in at the end, it often only takes one person, one lone voice, to break up the group mentality that eggs on violence.

    Bullying the bully, like you stated, only makes the problem. We need to be & to raise our children to have enough confidence to be the lone voice of reason.

    Great post, Dara. You nailed it.

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