Bullying, priorities, and the assumptions we make

There’s a video going around the web at the moment. I first saw it linked on Twitter, with the hashtag #bullyingfail. It keeps being removed from Youtube for ToS violations, but this is active as I write this:

(In case the above doesn’t work, here’s another link.)

Now, here’s the thing. I saw this video for the first time while I was at work, so I watched with the sound off. And there weren’t any comments that gave any other hints, so based on the “bullying fail” tags, I made an assumption: I thought that the bigger kid was the bully, and the little kid was trying to stand up to him. And failed. Frankly I was just sickened that people were making light of some pretty horrible bullying.

It wasn’t until I was at home, and I saw some comments made by Randy Milholland on Twitter, that I realized how wrong I’d been. I went and watched the video again, with sound and with context, and boy did my perceptions change.

Now, I don’t know why the littler kid was picking on the bigger one, whose name is apparently Casey Heynes. Maybe it’s because Casey is overweight. Maybe he’s shy. Or gay, or introverted, or doesn’t like whatever other people think he should, or any of the other bullshit reasons bullies use as excuses to pick on their victims. What I do know is that I made some really bad assumptions about what I was seeing.

I am really, really sorry that I assumed Casey Heynes was the bully just because of his size. I should damn well know better… I was usually big for my age and I was bullied plenty. Bullying isn’t about physical intimidation, even if that’s sometimes the method – it’s about making another person feel weak or helpless. About making them feel lesser because of some perceived or invented difference. It’s about deriving pleasure from emotionally scarring someone else.

And I am very, very glad that Casey Heynes evidently decided “Enough” and fought back. I understand why so many people are applauding him. I’m not glad because I think he’s a “hero” – I’m glad that he snapped the way he did and fought, because when victims of bullying can’t take it any more, sometimes they go the other direction. And I don’t want to read any more stories like that, or see any more memorials.

I’m glad to see that some blogs, at least, are talking about how it should never have gotten that far. But I really wish the prevalent conversation was less “HAHAHA OMG BullyingFail!” and more “Where the fuck are the teachers? Where is this kid’s support? Why is he dealing with this alone?”

My son is almost 5 years old, and I can’t predict what part of him will be the target of bullies. But Kay and I are working like hell to make sure that, when and if it happens, he’ll know he can come to us, and that we will listen and believe him, and that we’ll help.

2 thoughts on “Bullying, priorities, and the assumptions we make”

  1. Sadly we’re hearing students and parents of students coming forward telling us that Casey has bullied their kids before. It’s turning out the heroic story of a kid snapping back against a bully is the complete opposite. This kid Richard was the one who finally snapped, physically attacking Casey (if that wasn’t obvious enough by Casey simply shrugging off blows only to easily pick up and smash the physically smaller and wearker on the ground) and instead getting beaten up for it. Sadly this is exactly why we never hear of these things, as physically weaker kids fighting back against bullies tend to get beaten up right back.

    Pathetically though a lot of people, even those bullied in their childhoods, have been flat out refusing to adjust their views to this new information. So now an innocent child is being villified for standing up to a bully and getting beaten up for it, while the bully is being praised because his instigation was left off of the video clip.

    1. Really, Joda? I find that kind of hard to believe considering the bully Richard’s mother was interviewed, and AFTER talking with her son she still said he was the instigator and the cause of the incident:

      Not to mention that the initial video makes it pretty clear there’s a group of kids ganging up to taunt Casey. I guess they could have staged the incident to catch it on film and bust the “real” bully… if the mom hadn’t screwed that up by admitting Richard was the bully.

      You’re going to have to offer some better proof of your “new information” than “we’re hearing”. How about giving your name, and the names of these anonymous “students and parents” who are “coming forward”? Or better yet, an actual interview?

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