Bully Victim Casey Heynes Speaks Out, Describes Years of Abuse

Last week, we wrote about a popular video clip involving Casey Heynes, an Australian student who retaliated after being bullied by 12-year-old Ritchard Gale. The video struck a chord with many across the globe and went viral, being viewed by millions in the process. We covered the story on our site because of the inordinate number of children with autism who are bullied on a daily basis and felt the need to shed additional light on this growing epidemic that currently exists in schools.

On Sunday, A Current Affair (ACA) Australia, aired a fascinating in-depth interview with Casey Heynes (posted below) that gave the back-story that led up to the on-camera bullying episode and subsequent retaliation.  

In the ACA segment, Heynes describes a chronic pattern of abuse that occurred "practically every day."  Some of his torment included being called "fatty," taking slaps across the back of the head, being tripped and bombarded with water bombs at school. The bullying began all the way back in the second grade and continued until the day Heynes’ incident was caught on camera. The harassment was so severe, Heynes describes how he considered suicide as recently as last year. "Bullycide" as it is called, has become a major problem among teens who are tormented to the point of taking their own lives.

As a parent of a child with autism, these bullying stories are extremely upsetting and much more needs to be done to address this seemingly out-of-control problem.

If there is any silver lining to the Casey Heynes incident, it has brought significant attention to bullying in schools and will give further ammunition to those seeking legislative changes to address the epidemic. In fact, as we reported the other day, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier will soon be introducing legislation that addresses bullying against special needs students.

The video below is a great testimony of how a single incident can change the course of how the public perceives a particular issue and the good that can come from it. In fact, the Casey Heynes story may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, providing a catalyst for significant change to help finally protect our children from bullies once and for all.

27 Responses to Bully Victim Casey Heynes Speaks Out, Describes Years of Abuse

  1. peter says:

    I am a teacher who actively fights against bullying everyday. I have a lot of experience with children with special needs including autism.

    But what casey Heynes did was wrong. By body slammimg a child into the concrete he crossed the line. This action could have had dire consequences.

    Casey was big enough and strong enough to drag the smaller boy to the office, rather than slam him.

  2. Chris says:

    Peter, are you serious? You are asking for a bullied and tortured kid to “drag” the smaller boy (who JUST punched him in the face, not to mention what else off-camera) to the office for punishment?

    1) The teachers and staff will not do anything to prevent the bullying from occurring again as they have not done anything up until this point. They will either scold the smaller boy and send him on his way, or scold the bigger child for using physical force to “drag” him into the office.
    2) There was a crowd of anti-Casey kids at this incident. I HIGHLY doubt he would have been able to “drag” one of them to the “office”.
    3) HE JUST GOT PUNCHED IN THE FACE! The kid came back to hit him again!

    It was absolutely not wrong for Casey to defend himself. That bully was physically punching Casey and came back to do it again. Casey eliminated the threat and that bully will NOT be doing that again.

    According to your logic, if someone is bigger than someone else, they cannot defend themselves. I can’t tell you how poorly misguided this is and shows what a sheltered life you must have lived. You say you combat bullying everyday as a teacher and I do not doubt that. However, you also must think you are making a difference and that it does not continue when you are not around.

    Bullying is a power-play and a show of social force. The only way to stop it is for the punishment to be much more severe than the benefit of doing the bullying. From a teaching/administrative point-of-view, that can be solved with parental involvement and suspension of the bully. However, most bullies are unlikely have parental discipline in the first place and most administrations are hesitant to suspend a student without repeat and severe offenses.

    This means that bullies quickly learn their tactics can be continued out of sight from the teaching staff. Furthermore, those kids that do try to go to the administration without “evidence” are soon down-played and sent on their way.

    Unless you are stepping in and severely punishing any instance of verbal or physical abuse in your classroom, it is continuing ten-fold outside of it. Sure you might feel all warm and fuzzy inside telling yourself “I fight bullying”, but the fact is you likely make little difference as the bullies have just learned to wait until you are out of sight.

    Defending yourself is an important part of combating bullying. Bullies pick on easy targets. You can either defend yourself verbally or physically. However, to the original point, Casey was attacked and did not retaliate until the attacker returned for more. He had every right to defend himself and remove the threat.

    This is not about revenge or getting even or anything like that. Its about defending yourself. The sad part is you still think Casey was wrong in spite of being attacked by a group, no doubt repeatedly off-camera as well.

  3. Monk Pierre says:

    I could not have agreed more with Chris’ assessment of the situation; although I am not shocked by Peter’s. Peter’s represents the neuro-typical ‘well-meaning’ response which, while it believes itself to be fair and interventionist, facilitates abuse and the abuser, and places unreasonable demands upon the Autist that even the more able-bodied “socially-savvy” child would or could not comply with. The fact that the peer-crowd did not come to the defense of Casey Heynes and intervene upon his behalf should all makes us shudder. They are not innocent little children; they are, if we consider Stanley Milgram’s experiments, all potential adult abusers (in one way or another) behind those ever-so pseudo-angelic looking faces. I say this because just down the street from my monastic cell in downtown Toronto, two developmentally-disabled men were brutalized — one dying from the blows — targeted simply for being different, just days past. The victims were adults; the victimizer was an adult, who once was a child himself on a playground or in a classroom. But even more so, bullying carries over into the working world where functioning Autists, like myself, seek various forms of employment and must try to make our lives the best we can. Bullying, though, doesn’t seem to stop, and all the well-meaning efforts to curtail it are either naive, insufficient, purposefully ineffective, or actively designed to condone the bullying. None of us simply likes to admit the truth: the world loves a bully. Digby Tantam, PhD (2009) in “Can The World Afford Autistic Spectrum Disorder?” recently theorized why Autists are treated as outsiders by dominant society: because dominant society, as a whole, functions as a group mind — and “interbrain,” of which the Autist is unable to sufficiently interconnect within the quasi-borg. That “intermind” can and often is, brutally self-protective of its interests and privileges, and only with its own is it properly empathetic. Its altruism, therefore, is qualified, and not, for the most part, unconditional — unless people are taught empathy towards the “other” from the very beginning. (We have inadequately prepared and/or over-worked educators and distracted parents to thank for the callousness of the majority of children.) If Casey is high functioning, my advice would be — consider learning the law, aiming either for paralegal or lawyer, if he has the capacity to do so. Or if in the church, learn canon law. Or if his interests are elsewhere, create a need. (The world, even if it hates you, will sufficiently protect you if you are seen to have a utilitarian purpose. As to the latter, case in point, Dr. Temple Grandin.) The innocent as doves, the Good Lord says, must also know how to be wise as serpents. They have no other choice. Some may find that words like these, coming from a monk, as brash and cynical. No, my dear readers, they are realistic, and this monk has a life-time of scars to prove every word.

  4. Susan says:

    As I’ve said on another thread about this, my only problem with Casey body slamming the kid to the concrete is that if Casey’s tormentor had ended up paralyzed or with a fractured skull Casey would be in deep trouble regardless of the fact he was defending himself. Thank God the creep limped off.

    Every school should have the anti-bullying software which allows students to anonymously report bullying online they’ve either seen or endured. The technology is there and it’s been proven highly effective. Lobby for it in your child’s school district.

  5. Monk Pierre says:

    A brief reply to Susan — Understood, and yes, no one wants either of the boys to have been hurt. That said, having a conjoint doctorate in theology and developmental psychology, let me say: Many Autists when thrust into in a potentially life-threatening situation, if they cannot extricate themselves or know how to extricate themselves, can split consciousness, and a dissociative state may take over. That dissociative consciousness either leaves the ‘normal personality’ unaware of what is going on, or as if they were outside themselves watching on. To suggest self-control in such a state is total ignorance of Autistic psychology. Where the neurotypical mind has more “executive control”, the Autist has this self-survival ‘switch’ that can be tripped. What happens afterwards is blind reflex, not reflective. Momentarily, there is no volition.

  6. Susan says:

    You misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting he should’ve had self control, and I know of what you speak. I’m just saying thank god the bully limped off, because Casey could’ve ended up in juvenile detention. (He got suspended as it is.) Things can go very horribly in court as we’ve seen in VA when a autistic teen was given 10 years for assaulting a police officer who tried to arrest him because he wouldn’t/couldn’t tell him his name. Best case scenario Casey’s found innocent, but still he would’ve been traumatized by the experience of being on trial.

    The fact that the bullying went on for years is as unsurprising as it is horrible. Kids are supposed to be safe at school, and adults need to act NOW to make that happen.

  7. Judi says:

    The teachers have no idea who the bullies are. They are the popular kids. The teachers pets. When a bullied kid defends himself HE ends up with the bully label. The only difference here is that it was documented so we got to see who the REAL bully was.

  8. Joanne G. says:

    The Film Production company I work for, McMillan Media Filmworks, has just completed the award winning 90 minute Documentary Film, “RATS & BULLIES”, which documents the true story of the bullycide of Dawn Marie Wesley, who hung herself with her dog’s leash after being systematically bullied and threatened to death by three girls at her high school. The incident led to the precedent setting court case, where for the first time in North American courts, teens were arrested and made to stand trial for bullying.

    The Film also provides solutions to Schools, Teachers, Parents, Teens on Bullying.

    With that said, the horrible bullying that was done to Casey Heynes, shows what some teens encounter everyday at school. This is unacceptable. As adults, we must stop looking at that it is a “teen” issue.
    Picture this: What if in your adult workplace, an adult coworker walked up to you and punched you repeatedly in the face?

    What would happen?

    Would the coworker be sent to the Principal’s Office and be suspended?

    No. The coworker would be arrested on battery charges.

    As my production company’s Film RATS & BULLIES shows, we as a society need to start addressing these incidents as we would if the bully involved was 18 years of age or older.

    It must not be a different standard that a person can commit battery on another person as long as they are both teens.

    Casey had a right to defend himself, just as any adult who was assaulted would have. Just because Casey is a “student” does not mean he should stand by and be attacked because he is in school.

    Of course, the deeper and original issue here is that the incident should not have occurred at all… as from what I have read on the situation, this bullying had been going on for a while. The school should have addressed it long before and teachers need to stop turning a blind eye to “bullying” in schools. In actuality, as shown in the Documentary, it is not “just” bullying…it is criminal harassment, threats, and battery.

  9. Shannon says:

    As a parent of a child with autism…I am glad this boy stood for himself and DEFENDED himself, which he had every right to do!!! Especially, after years of torment & bullying! I bet he taught that punk a lesson, and it’ll never happen again!

  10. Mary Midkiff says:

    Casey, I am an old lady now, who was bullied in school just like you. You are my superhero. I never was able to fight back, and that still bothers me. Thank you so much for responding in the RIGHT way. Mary

  11. Michelle says:

    My son has Aspergers and was picked on the way this boy was for his entire school life. I remember in 7th grade (around age 12) is when he finally had had enough. A boy was tackling him in the locker room during dress out every day. One day my son elbowed the boy to get him off of him. He was taken to the office and reprimanded for hurting the boy. Two days later the boy’s best friend pulled my son’s pants down in the middle of the courtyard. My son snapped and punched that boy. He was suspended for “inappropriate retaliation.” As a parent I had been to the school on several occasions and had been told “it’s his word against the other boy’s word” each time I said that he had been bullied. When I defended my son for defending himself I was told that he wasn’t allowed to defend himself. Schools don’t tell us about things that go on in school b/c it “violates the rights of the child”. Yet a child doesn’t have the same right to defend themselves as any other person does? Hypocritical. I asked the administrator, in front of my child, “If you were walking down the street and someone came up to you and attacked you, what would you do?” She couldn’t say a word, so I answered for her — “Fight for your life; and in a court of law you would not be held liable for defending yourself.” She said to me “This is not the same thing.” I said to her “Yes it is.” I got my son and walked out of the school. The final straw came when the boy threatened to kill my son. I removed him from school and home schooled him until we moved.

  12. Cindy says:

    Hear hear, to all who understand what Casey has been/is dealing with. Anyone who says he was unjustified in doing what he had, doesn’t understand what he is dealing with on a regular basis..Simply fact..He did what needed to be done. I was bullied too.. but in a different way.. got called names.. and boys would grab my breasts.. I developed early. I would return the grab and make those boys fall to their knees.. then I got in trouble by the school for hitting boys in inappropriate places.. Maybe if I had hit them in the face I would have gotten off.. yeah.. right.. You have no idea how much it messed me up every time I was suspended for defending myself.. 8 times.. in one year (8th grade).. from boys being rude and nasty to me.. not fair at all.. Girls were mean to me too.. Jealous of my breasts, blue eyes and blond hair.. it started all over after the boys left me alone.. I got wise and figured. I’m going to be suspended anyway.. so I would make sure I I got them back real good instead of letting the girls start in on me too. After the year was over.. I went to a new school and I had respect as someone who COULD and WOULD defend herself.. thus no longer being a target. I still hated school because of it and dropped out.. in the 10th grade.. I did finish school just a year behind, in another town. but I was no longer picked on, ever again.

  13. Susan says:


    I’m so sorry for what you and your son went through, and it shows just how deeply rooted the problems are. Your story demonstrates my fear for Casey had the bully been seriously injured. It’s down the rabbit hole in these situations and horrible outcomes for the victim can and do happen.

  14. Rick says:

    To peter
    Are you an idiot!?
    You should remove yourself from education if all your going to do is tell some kid to stand by and get his ass kicked on a daily basis.

    What this young kid did was not only defensive but necessary. I bet that little a** of a kid (bully) thinks nine or ten times before attacking some one else.

    Hauling a bully off to the office, is like telling an untrained puppy “no”, it doesn’t care what “no” is.

    I’ll stand by any kid who defends themselves against a bully.!



  16. Carlee Shaw says:

    Im almost 15 years old and I like Casey was bullied from a young age, physically, mentally and emotionally. I didn’t retaliate to begin with, but it got so bad that when I did I made sure that the bully would not come back. When i get mad i snap. Just last month i was punched and kicked in the face by two girls, they had 10 boys behind them. I did nothing, I THEN REGRETTED THAT. They came back a week later, like Casey I retaliated they now know to leave me alone. I say go Casey im on your side, that boy deserved it and he wasnt sorry. Peter yes it was a little over the top yes he could have taken him to the office. SPEAKING FROM YEARS OF EXPERIENCE TEACHERS DO NOTHING. When i snap now that im in high school, i make sure whoever made me snap doesnt get up untill i walk away. If i get suspended i will go bananas because its not the victims fault.

  17. Melinda says:

    You sound just like the authorities at that school. Supposedly, the school has a “zero tolerance” policy, and yet Casey was bullied EVERY SINGLE DAY at school. Where was that “zero tolerance” when this was going on?? I was bullied for years, and 15 years after it has stopped, I am STILL having problems with self-esteem and I am terrified of people. My teachers and the principal at my school thought just the way you do. And you know what? Nothing they suggested helped. If he would have dragged that kid to the principal, as you suggested, what do you think would have happened the next day? They would have bullied him even MORE. Why? Because now he got them in trouble, and they’ll call him a crybaby. Your suggestion will not work. It never has, and never will.
    I’m very proud of Casey. I think he acted just the way he should have. He put an end to what they were doing.

  18. Jack says:

    Peter – you are an idiot and a coward. I honestly have little respect for most teachers. If someone punched a teacher several times to the head you would be screaming blue murder. I wish Casey would slam your pathetic head to the ground. As a teacher you have no right to push your idiotic thinking onto those who truly have a brain. If you were smart you wouldn’t be teaching.

  19. Kathy says:

    Cindy…this isn’t the place for you to brag about your appearance. “Jealous of my breasts, blond hair, and blue eyes?” Oh, please. As if those things automatically make somebody beautiful. Maybe the other girls just didn’t like you because you thought you were prettier than them. But I think it was wrong that you were bullied. No one deserves that. I was also sexually harassed in school, so I can relate.

    I was bullied in school and outside of it, too. I’ve been bullied my whole life and I still disagree with the way Casey handled it.

    I understand why he did it. Being bullied repeatedly can make even the most mild-mannered person snap after a while. Ritchard should have left him alone. I don’t blame Casey for wanting to teach him a lesson.

    But Casey could have killed him or injured him permanently. Susan is the only person here who has mentioned that. Why? Ritchard is definitely a bully and he provoked Casey, but what if the outcome had been different? What if his head had been split open or he died? What then?

    Would he still be considered a “hero”? I understand what motivated him to react that way, but it was wrong. Both boys were completely wrong in their actions.

  20. Tom says:

    Hey Peter ..do us all a favor and stop teaching children..you obviously do not have a clue about the real world.

    The other punks would have attacked him if he tried to force the little punk to the office.

    No teacher, principal, administrator or lawyer could ever get through to those little shits like that body slam did.

  21. Katrina says:

    HOORAY FOR CASEY!!! My son is ten years old and has High Functioning Autism…..he has been bullied almost every day…not only by students, but by teachers as well..we have pulled our children out of the public school system in South Carolina and they are now in a Christian school and are loved,no longer bullied, getting appropriate education and have TRUE FRIENDS! While I realize that all families can’t afford private school and not every child does well in private school….it has been an answer many,many prayers!

  22. Yay, Casey says:


    “What a self-righteous and deluded pacifist you are. Are you suggesting that Casey shoudl have let Ricahrd massacare him? If so, then you’re messed up.

    Casey had every right to defend hismelf. If you take that right away from him, you could be in big trouble with the law.

    I’m with those other people for badmouthing you. You’re an excuse for a teacher.”


    “You’re just as self-righteousand delusional as Peter. How can you understand what Casey did yet badmouth him for defending himself? What a hypocrite you are.

    Suppose I bully you physically all the time, I tell you not defend yourself, and you die a painful death. I don’t think you’d like that at all.

    I side with Casey the whole way. He has every right to defend himself.

    For your information, pacifism doesn’t always work in this world. Instead, it’s a black-and-white way of thinking whereas violence leans more towards the gray area.

    If you think that violence is always bad and shoudl never use it no matter how bad a situation gets, you and/or somebody who you care a great deal about might be dead in no time.

    The ones who are against what Casey did are butt-kissing do-gooders who think that they’re better than everyone else just ’cause they don’t use violence. Well, newsflash: Violence will always exist and you sometimes have to cope with it.

    Also, sometimes peopel have to fight back whether they like it or not. Expecting everyone to be pacifists who suck up to their enemies is the wrong way to go. Think about that.”

  23. Laura says:

    My son has been bullied all his elementary years. He is in 5th grade and has aspergers. He is withdrawing and seems depressed. I don’t know if I should tell him to defend himself because lots of school conversations and emails later, it still continues. Do I call the other parents? Do I teach him how to fight? His/our experience I that no one will help. If I give him permission to fight, I fear he may hurt the child and have a moment of temporary insanity and then regret it for the rest of his life. What do I do? My mom tells me to teach him to defend himself. That its survival of the fittest and he will feel better abouit himself, or he can continue being a victim.

  24. Rosemary Mendez says:

    I hated school. I was bullied in middle school, in high school and on the block where I grew up because my bullies were my next door neighbors. My childhood was stolen from me. My school years were hell. I can’t get those years back and I can’t imagine what I’d be today if I were able to have graduated and stayed focused on my school work. Good for you young man you inspire me. There is hope out there for the victims. Hope I get to find my way just as you have found yours.

  25. Yay, Casey says:

    Hey, Katrina. I thought that your name was Kathy. But I was wrong. However, I’m right about what I told you. You should be ashamed of what you typed.

  26. mplo says:

    Kudos to Casey for finally standing up and defending himself! Teachers and other school authorities all too often sit back on their laurels, do or say nothing when a kid is constantly bullied in school, whether it be physically or verbally, which is rather disgusting. Casey, imho, was well within his rights to defend himself, and, if I’d been that teacher or another other school authority figure, or a member of his family, or a friend of his, I would’ve backed him up to the hilt. Way to go, Casey!

    Inho, a kid who’s being bullied constantly, especially physically, whether s/he is neurotypical or handicapped in some way or other, should be encouraged to stick up for him or herself as such as a last resort. Those who advise people who’re constantly getting assaulted, roughed up, etc., to sue them don’t know what they’re talking about; suing somebody isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

  27. David says:

    Casey I suffered the same thing you swore to me, beat me and caught the school supplies were breaking me or I squeeze themselves into the trash. They did something wrong and blame were for me and I could not say anything then hit me and thanks to your bravery and courage now I’m a normal person. Animos from Spain

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
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