Editorial: Appeasement no way to deal with a bully

Bullying victim Casey Heynes. Photo / AP
Bullying victim Casey Heynes. Photo / AP

So pervasive have been the YouTube images that few people can be unaware of Casey Heynes, the Sydney bullying victim who struck back at his tormenter, achieving cult status in the process.

There was overwhelming support for the teenager among the general populace. Among the education fraternity, however, there was ambivalence.

One Auckland assistant principal summed this up when he said that, as a parent, he would want his boy to stand up to any kind of bullying - "but it's still unacceptable".

In other words, retaliation to bullying was both the right and the wrong thing to do. Children could be excused for feeling confused.

In reality, there is no need to be. Just as bullying has been around for ever, so history has recorded the perils of appeasement.

Bullies pick on subjects for the very reason that they know they will not offer resistance. Fight back, even unsuccessfully, and they usually move on to an easier target.

If Casey Heynes made a mistake, it lay in the vigour of his response. But that revealed the depth of the torment to which he had been subjected and the extent of his frustration.

If he had reacted earlier, the bullies would surely have got the message without the need for fairly extreme violence.

The general response to this episode points to the widespread nature of bullying.

It also indicates the near universal admiration for those who act instinctively and decisively when their wellbeing is threatened. If more acted that way, there would surely be less bullying.

- NZ Herald

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