For some reason, bullying has often been pegged as a normal part of growing up, usually being the first preview to the harsh realities of life. While sticks and stones break bones, words provoke the same outcome; just ask Casey Heynes, the 15-year-old Australian YouTube sensation who finally found the courage to stand up to his tormentors.
Casey, like many others (including myself), was teased for being overweight. At his age, my heaviest was about 243lbs, and though being six feet tall balanced out some of my physical attributes, the scars from the teasing remained. Self-esteem and insecurity are defining factors that affect and shape our lives and characters. What happens, however, when a person is pushed too far?
In Casey’s instance, he’s now become an unlikely hero to many who remain without a voice of their own. While violence, especially involving children, shouldn’t be advocated, it’s unavoidable growing up in today’s society. Someone will always seek to quell their own inner angst by picking on the fat kid, the foreign kid, the possibly gay kid, and anyone else who is different, no matter the consequences.
Both boys were interviewed; the Bully, Richard Gale, after being humiliated in front of the world’s eyes, audaciously attempted to redeem his dignity to no avail, saying Casey attacked him first.
As Casey’s story further unfolds, it’s clear how being bullied has dramatically affected his life, citing how his worst encounter—being duct taped to a tree—drove him to thoughts of suicide.
While I was never taped to a tree, suicide did cross my mind, as I was mocked, punched, kicked, and ditched by my peers. My poor self-image prevented me from dating and trying out for sports, and is probably why I’m more outgoing now as an adult. Like Casey, I was also viewed as a gentle giant, but after I flipped out on a kid in 6th grade, and the entire class of 42 kids (it was a Bronx Public School after all) plus the teacher still couldn’t hold me back, I realized then that, no matter what, I’d better keep my temper in check.
For the most part, remorse is scarce for the young Mr. Gale; irony and karma have left him at the mercy of a worldwide wolf-pack of cyber bullies. While calls for death and dismemberment from overzealous commentators are ridiculous, the question remains: just what lesson should come out of this? Retribution in the form of standing up to a bully is one of the most rewarding feelings the bullied can feel; confidence can only ever come from within.
Whatever the outcome, a child’s life should not be jeopardized, period. Be that at the hands of another child, or self-inflicted as a result of severe mental anguish brought on by another, there is no innocence in driving someone to commit suicide or murder. Conundrums often wield double-edged swords, no matter where in the world they’re swung, no matter the language spoken. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be bullying, and everyone would accept each other for who and what they are. The harsh truth, however, is that this world, along with the people in it, are far from perfect.