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Bully Beatdown – Is Self-Defense Wrong?

Chances are, you’ve already seen this video of a recent incident in Australia where a 12 year-old bully, named Ritchard Gale was tormenting and assaulting a larger 16 year-old boy named Casey Heynes.

In an apparent effort to impress his buddies, the bully cornered his victim and began taunting and punching him repeatedly in the body and face.

Suddenly Casey “snapped” picking Gale up off the ground and “body slamming” him.   That ended the encounter.  Casey stood for a moment, then turned and walked away.  His attacker got up limping and “giggling” for the camera.

Here are some details surrounding the incident:

  • Casey had been a victim of repeated bullying for three years prior to this incident and admitted to contemplating suicide because of it.
  • The bully was not seriously injured
  • BOTH of the boys were suspended form school due to it’s “Zero Tolerance Policy.”
  • The bully “reluctantly” apologized for his behavior. (after initially refusing to)

The video went viral and it has generated a tremendous amount of debate on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and in the media.

The majority of the feedback has been positive.  Most people (including me) think that the bully got what he deserved.

However, what stands out in my mind was how many people chastised Casey for his actions and shifted the blame on the VICTIM.  Many suggest that ALL violence is wrong regardless of the circumstances and that Casey had no right to have lashed out at his attacker.  And get this… many hold the “warped” belief that a bully’s rights are every bit as important as his victims!!!!!

I thought I’d toss out my own two cents on the matter.

As a self-defense instructor, former police officer and father of three sons, I find this whole matter, and people’s reaction to it, quite interesting.  I don’t agree with the “turn-the-other-cheek” pacifist philosophy that suggests that ALL violence is wrong.  It’s not.

There are times when proportional and reasonable “violence” (a.k.a. fighting back) is not only legal but ethically and morally right.

“Predators” (criminals, rapist and BULLIES) select their victims on their perceived willingness or ability to stand up for themselves and of course their ability to “get away with it.”  Without consequences, it is quite likely that bullying will continue and escalate.

To be subjected to ongoing bullying and victimization just because “someone” tells you that violence is wrong is crazy thinking and only feeds into the problem of bullying.

If schools were consistent and successful at recognizing and intervening in cases of bullying (which they’re NOT) then perhaps a Zero Tolerance Policy has merit.  But until such time that the bleeding-heart-head-in-the-sand-bureaucrats get their you-know-what together, sometimes violence is just a fact of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that there were better ways of resolving this situation but Casey was justified in what he did.  Had he produced a weapon or slammed his assailant on his head, then that would be a whole other matter.

Casey responded to a physical assault, reacted to defend himself and then stopped once the threat was neutralized.

Did the bully deserve to be body slammed?  Of course he did!  Maybe, he’ll learn to keep his hands to himself. Should Casey have been suspended for defending himself?  No.  Should he apologize to the bully for bouncing him off the ground?  Nope again.

Everyone, especially kids, need to learn that there are consequences to their actions especially when those actions are mean-spirited and illegal. There is a time and a place to stand up for yourself and this was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t suggest that violence is ever “good” but sometimes it’s necessary.  Any one who suggest that “the rights” of the victimizer are equal to those of his intended victim is just plain wrong.

That’s MY opinion.  What’s yours?

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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  • I got several emails after my last post from people who wanted to comment but couldn’t bypass the “subscription process.” I think I’ve repaired the glitch and you should not have to registrater to comment. If you have an opinion or comment, please try again.

  • AMEN brother. My hat is off to Casey for his ability to restrain himself as well as he did. (I don’t know if I could have walked away so easily)

  • My friend, Al Peasland, a leading self defence and personal safety expert was bullied throughout his school years too.

    He has written a number of well received articles and produced a short video about the Casey Heynes incident.

    Perhaps when you get a moment you’d check them out. take care.

  • Marc

    I think that Casey was within his rights when he protected himself. The bully had repeatedly made contact including a strike that snapped his head back. After throwing Richard to the ground Casey stopped. Once the threat was neutralized, he stopped his attack.

    In the United States we have “zero tolerance” policies toward school violence that punish all who are involved, regardless of who instigated the conflict. I think this is a very lazy policy. The school administrators should take the time to investigate the situation and apply punishment based on who played a part in starting the incident.


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