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The body slam heard 'round the world

Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at 9:35 PM

"Hero" and "punisher" are words being associated with 16-year-old Casey Heynes after a video of him body slamming an alleged bully began circulating online.

The 40-second glimpse shows 12-year-old Ritchard Gale grabbing Heynes' shirt and punching him in the face and stomach until Heynes' retaliates and throws the much smaller Gale to the ground.

It looks like a reversed version of David versus Goliath with an "innocent" giant taking down an instigator who is deserving of the end result.

Interviews with both youths and their parents show that there may be more than meets the eye.

It should come as no surprise that both boys had been bullied in the past.

Heynes said he had been bullied almost daily throughout his years in school, with the worst of tormenting occurring in high school. He detailed specific instances, such as being duct taped to a pole, and said that such occurrences depressed him to the point of contemplating suicide.

Gale shared he had been bullied throughout primary school, and hinted that those experiences motivated him to be more of an aggressor at the next level of academia.

He also alleges that Heynes had taunted him before the recording began and the classmate who recorded the event collaborates that story.

The majority of people weighing in on the video discredits that tale, praise Heynes' efforts and vilify Gale.

Peter Gale's lip quivered and eyes moistened as he called for the public hatred against his son, and also any negative rhetoric toward Heynes, to stop.

It's interesting to see both sides of the story. Here are some observations.

Bullying and violence perpetuates more bullying and violence. In this example, Heynes' actions did not stop bullying; they simply shifted the bullying from him to Gale.

Anger is a dangerous thing. Both Heynes and Gale admit they were acting out of anger that had built up over years. Most of the anger probably came from other places, but they let it fester until they both exploded.

Social media and technology have added new layers to the topic of bullying. Not only is social media utilized for cyber-bullying, but it has also created a vast network for broadcasting fights and other exploits of bullies. It won't be surprising if more fight videos are added in the future.

The school in this example made the right decision. By suspending both boys, administration sent a loud and clear message that violence, regardless of the reason, is not acceptable.

Zero tolerance is the approach that everyone should take when addressing this issue.

Bullying in any form for any reason is not OK and neither is excessive retaliation.

As Peter Gale said, "This all needs to stop."

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