Casey Heynes has become an internet hero, after video of him fighting back against a bully went viral. In the video posted on YouTube, Heynes, a student at an Australian high school, is backed against a wall and takes several jabs from a smaller boy before fighting back and throwing the aggressor to the ground.
The video is a welcome antidote to the spate of "school fight" videos that show kids beating each other up, often to the cheers of fellow students and even adults. And commenters generally stood up for this poor kid and approved of his fighting back.
Its popularity has pushed the hundreds of school fight videos right off the page of YouTube search results.
So, is this a good thing?
On one hand, the video may inspire other kids who are the victims of bullies to fight back. On the other hand, it could be seen as just another helping of the public violence that's more and more central to our daily lives and to the media.
We talked to Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a child and family therapist in private practice in Beverly Hills who authored The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building A Better Bond with Your Child.
"I liked what I saw," Walfish says.
First off, she approves of the fact that, once Casey has thrown his victim to the ground, he backs off instead of continuing the violence. Besides, she says, sometimes fighting back is the only thing that works.
"This is not 'good' psychotherapy, but sometimes, you have to stretch it," she says. "Casey did not abuse retaliation, and he could have. He's not just fat, he's big and strong. He could have really hurt this kid."
First, kids should try all the appropriate strategies, Walfish says, including using words, going and getting a teacher or just walking away.
"But, sometimes it takes one good, confrontive response to stop it," she explains.
She thinks that the video will make run-of-the-mill bullies, the ones who are not in gangs and not homicidal, think twice about picking on other kids.
But Walfish cautions, "There is a risk that some bullies who have more psychological reasons for fueling their rage and aggression could enlist the help of others to overpower the victim."
There's even more consolation for bullied kids in the news today.
In real fairy tale style, it seems even a princess may be bullied. Kate Middleton, betrothed to Britain's Prince William, had to change schools after being victimized. The royal couple-to-be included Beatbullying as part of a charitable fund that wedding guests were encouraged to contribute to. New reports speculate that as a young teen, Middleton changed schools because she was bullied.
What do you think? Is it time for the nerds, wimps and losers of the world to fight back?