He's being called "Casey the Punisher," "Casey the Anti-Bullying PSA," "Little Zangief" (after the Street Fighter 2 video game character), and even "Man of the Year" by one website. A Facebook page created days ago in Casey Heynes' name already has over 75,000 likes and about a zillion wall comments. This nondescript 16-year-old overweight kid from Australia who defended himself against a bully attack that was captured on video now viral has become an international star overnight.
Some parents would be proud that their kid pounded that twerp, and would relish all the media attention surrounding it. They might believe that the event marks their child's emergence from victimhood, that everyone will look at their child differently, as a force to be reckoned with, and regard him a couple notches higher in the school social strata.
But this is not how Casey Heynes' father is reacting at all. He's scared, very scared about what the future holds for his son. And I'm scared with him.
No doubt the family has been inundated following the fallout of the video of Casey and his assaulter, a 7th grader who is not only mean but stupid for messing with a kid two grades ahead of him and twice his size. The family has not said much, but what they did say came from Casey's father to Australia's media, as appears in the Daily Telegraph:
There'll be reprisals from other kids in the school and he still has to go to school somewhere ... He's not a violent kid, it's the first time he's lashed out and I don't want him to be victimised over that ... He's always been taught never to hit. Apparently other people's parents don't teach their kids that.
I know nothing else about the father, but already I love this man. It gives even more testament to the fact that Casey was raised right, and was right in what he did and how he responded. The big test will be how Casey and his family react to the increasing media fervor, now that the cable news and television stations are beginning to sink their teeth into this David and Goliath story. Who will be the first to come calling for the exclusive interview? Will it be Oprah? Piers?
I seriously hope it's none of them, for Casey's sake. As much as I am dying to know this kid, to reaffirm all the good things I think about him and find out what's going on in his head, I hope he stays out of the spotlight. As his father said, he has enough to worry about. This is far from over. Other kids will not let this lie forever. And there's also that little matter of being thrown out of school and possible criminal charges.
To the outrage of Facebook fans, the boy who actually filmed the video did not get in trouble. But both Casey and his assaulter were suspended for four days, and the Sydney School, Chifley College, Dunheved Campus at North St. Marys, had said it was investigating whether Casey should face criminal charges.
Hopefully not, now that word that the still unidentified bully only suffered a "grazed knee" according to school officials. How that's possible I don't know. Let me watch the video again. Yup, it's a miracle. That's a broken leg, rib, and nose. At least. All from a kid who was "taught never to hit." I can only imagine what would have happened to that kid if he had been.
Should Casey's parents be worried about their son's future? Is the harassment over?
Image via Eddie~S/Flickr