Thursday, 17 March 2011

Casey Heynes - Bullied Fights Back - PART2

If you find this blog of interest, feel free to take a look at my website where I have lots more articles, products and information on Personal Safety and Self Defence. Al Peasland - 5th Dan British Combat Association.

Following alot of feedback from my latest blog around the viral video of Casey Heynes and his bully, Richard Gale, I thought I’d post a brief follow-up to answer a few comments, and give some more analysis on the event.
Also, as it’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence tomorrow, I thought It’d be a good opportunity to create a Part 2 of the blog post

Jeremy Vine Show – 17th March – BBC Radio 2 – listen to it here...

Listening to the Jeremy Vine show today on BBC Radio 2, I was a little bemused by the comments of Christine Pratt, who had been brought onto the show as an “expert” on anti-bullying and founder of the National Bullying Helpline.

A very worthy cause, and one which I am happy to link here...

One comment she made however, is something I’d like to challenge
During the interview she said something to the effect of “not advocating any type of violence as a response to bullying”.

When pressed, she offered the following suggestions as to how Casey should have responded and acted in the situation we have all seen on the video.

This has been taken from the National Bullying helpline website and I will happily remove it from my blog if permission to include it here is denied.
If you believe you are being bullied, it's Cool to CRI
1. Confront the Bully. Tell the Bully to stop. Tell the Bully how you feel. Remember, Bullies bully because they can – so don't let them.
2. Record the Bullying. Keep a log of the Bullying. Start a diary. Keep a record.
3. Inform someone. Tell a responsible person. Tell a Teacher. Tell an adult.
Basically ,she said Casey should have followed the strategies of CRI, which firstly requires him to Confront and then Record. However, Confront does not mean body slam his bully to the floor.

Whilst I agree with this advice during the on-set of bullying behaviour, I think we can all see that this particular situation has gone way past the, discussion and reasoning phase.

Encouraging the bullies to see the error of their ways through rational discussion and statements that inform them of just how the bullying makes you feel, is hardly going to stop the kid from punching the bullied in the face.

These steps need to happen very early on, after all, most bullying is systematic, prolonged and progressive.

She did say that there is one condition that could allow the use of violence as a response and that is a self defence situation. However, having read something that my good friend Marc MacYoung has written, I have to suggest that this wasn’t a full blown self defence situation.

Ok, so let me clarify all of this.

Firstly, when I teach self defence, the primary option of the defendant is to escape, and the sooner they can do this the better.

Based on this fact, Casey could have pushed his aggressor away and ran off, making his escape and staying safe.


However, one huge factor in “Self Defence” is CONTEXT

Context means to look at not only the threat, and the environment, but also the context in which it is all happening.

If this had been an incident between two individuals who had only just bumped into each other and were highly likely to never meet again, then the context would allow for the likes of Casey to make a sharp exit.

However, as we can all see, the context here is that of a school, where the kids involved most likely all go to the same school. They are going to see each other every day, the aggressor is most likely to have a large following, the victim is highly likely to have had a prolonged period of bullying that has slowly escalated to events of this magnitude.

This context means that, whilst Casey running away would solve his immediate self defence problem, it would most definitely not do anything to halt the bullying. In fact, based on my own experience, actions such as this are only going to help escalate the levels of bullying in the future. ‘Casey is now a victim, he won’t fight back and is easy pickings for any bully.’

Of course, Casey could have then gone to get help, reported to an adult, and got the support from his parents. I doubt this would have made much difference!

Lets also look at the aggressor in this event. He is younger and much smaller than his victim. This means he will have had to perform an element of target selection and, as he’s not preying on his victim to rob him, the chances are this selection process has gone on for some time.

It would have started with initial “tests”; verbal abuse, monitoring the responses from his victim; making note how his victim behaves when others are doing the bullying, etc etc

All information gathering to bolster his own confidence before he “bravely” steps forward to start his attack.

This is all a case of vying for position and status in the pack, the aggressor looking to show his strength in his group by picking on a much larger and older adversary.

This event, as Marc MacYoung states, is not Self Defence, and more of a fight. Both individuals have engaged in the fight, whether provoked or not, and one person has come out on top.

The aggressor decided to enter and start the fight in order to gain status in his group. To pick on an easy target that he has probably done many times before – hence his courage to get into the fight.

The victim decided to retaliate as, “enough was enough”. He could have run away but this would not have solved his major problem, that of the continued bullying.

The aggressor was still in the fight when he managed to pick himself back up off the floor, until he realised his leg wasn’t performing quite as it should.

Casey didn’t immediately run away after he had dumped the kid on the floor – implying that he was either in a “freeze” state of fear and adrenalin, or more likely, still “in the fight” and actively deciding what action to take next.

What Casey did was enter into a fight in order to solve a bigger problem. He probably did this without rationally thinking it through, as is understandable under the adrenal state he would most likely have been in.

He took action that some are shocked by, but one which I feel he had no other choice but to do. As I said, running away would only have encouraged his aggressors and bolstered their confidence further.

He also responded in a composed way and did not continue his attack once the threat was neutralised, something we see in a lot of “self defence” class drills.

One final thought is this. Our aggressor has already entered into physical confrontation, which means this is a language he understands and respects. He feels that by physically dominating another individual he is better than them and higher up in the status rankings. If this is his language then the best way to communicate and get your own opinion across is to talk in the same language, and unfortunately that means having to become physical yourself.

Casey Heynes vs Bully by kleksiq

Thank you for reading

A brief clip of the forthcoming exclusive interview

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

NB: I have now posted a final follow-up to this blog, with some more analysis and feedback from recent comments - CLICK HERE to jump straight to the article

Fence Concepts DVD - the most effective self defence tool to manage confrontation!


  1. all you need to know about this lady can be worked out from the incident last year where she revealed that calls were made to the anti-bullying helpline from staff at 10 downing street. confidentiality clearly counts for nothing, and in some ways can actually escalate bullying if it is revealed the victims have been ringing helplines for advice. she had to call max clifford in to help her handle the press attention.

  2. someone just commented over at my blog, pointed out somethng quite interesting. quite clearly an assault has taken place, yet none of the news stories i've read appear to talk about any police involvement

  3. Nice informative follow up blog.

  4. actually my comment about max clifford earlier was incorrect. christine pratt did not call him for help, max clifford offered his thoughts to the world on how she should handle ths situation regarding the news stories. His comments could best be distilled down to the following phrase "put up or shut up".

  5. And this is only one type of bullying. From Age 5 to 9 I was subjected to exclusion bullying, where No one would play or sit, or even talk to me, would yell, don't get XXXXX's disease laugh and run away. The only disease I had was my father taught at the school - also probably the only reason I wasn't actually ever beaten up there. This only ended when I eventually moved schools. The best thing about my new school was they didn't know about the "disease", and there I managed to make several good friends, but this is still very hard when you have gone through 5 years with no friends at all, and bullying resumed again at college, but physical that time as some from my old school were already at college and were now much larger than me.

  6. Hey there, as a person who was also bullied not only verbally but also physically as a child I have similar point of view but in an essence there is a big difference. I was (and I still em) a lot darker that than the wast majority of my country because my mother is Armenian and wasn't always a slim. But from what I experienced I can safely say that your analysis of the incident from the video is correct, it is a power and acceptance struggle from within the peer group. Last time I was bullied was in the middle of 6th grade, where the selection process prior to an assault took place over the course of 6 weeks, well I tried to resolve all the conflicts verbally and tactically, I didn't report those conflicts because they would not be taken with the seriousness I wanted them to and any kind of reporting would resolve in more abuse ergo if the bully would be asked about his wrong doings from a teacher he'd find me up and try a physical attack. (Please note that at that time I was already doing Judo for 3 years and Thai box for 1 and a half year) At the day of the attack the attack I've been attacked it was no ambush and there were no camera phones it was in the good old walkman time, he came at me running with holding his fist in the air aiming for a direct punch to my face, (from my experience that's never a good strategy for an attack unless you are going to tackle your opponent) I just took the stance because there was no room to escape and I acted according to what I've been trained to do 1. dodge 2. throw the opponent of balance 3. send him to the nearest object and neutralize the immediate threat. Well I broke his nose and chipped his front tooth then I brought him to the nurse, told him that he fell some steps. This incident resulted in the people in the school noticing me and they wanted to be friends with me, there are always the underdogs, it is always better to be with the people that like you and you have something in common. Shortly after that teachers heard about it and since the kid was known to bully the kids no one really cared, they were happy to see someone so young trying to verbally resolve any conflict and recommended me for the school Rugby team, which lead to a regular team and getting to Czech national team =)

    well I'd say that my story is nice, its like pissing on electric fence, your instincts tell you that you have to do it somewhere (in this case on someone)and trying to pee through the rhombuses in the fence seems like a great idea while not knowing that it may electrocute you.

    But I would want no one anywhere in the world even my worst enemy to go through the hard physical, verbal, racist, demeaning and emotional abuse I had to went through before I actually started training self defence and martial arts.

    The thing I can convey to you all is that you don't learn to fight you learn how to prevent it, and by studying martial arts you wont only get your some muscles you train the two most important muscles of the body, The brain and the heart =)

    if you want to know anything or want some help from in the Czech Republic region just contact me

    FightCon CZ 2011