Fighting Back: Video raises questions about handling bullies

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - An Australian teen is making international headlines after being suspended for fighting back against a bully at school. Now his story is stirring up a new debate about bullying all over the world, including right here in the Grand Valley.

In just the past two weeks, Casey Heynes has become somewhat of a hero -- after a video showing him being bullied by another student, then fighting back, surfaced on sites like YouTube.

Millions who have watched it are praising him for standing up to his tormentor, though his actions got him suspended for four days.

"You have to react to the situation," said Fruita resident Paul Delancey.

It's a story he's all to familiar with. A few months ago, he got a call from his son's school, saying he'd been suspended for getting into a fight.

"We were advised by the assistant principal that the actual situation was my son was defending another child who had been slammed against the wall a couple of times by two other students," said Delancey.

He says when his son stepped in, the two students turned on him. And with his back against the wall, he fought back to defend himself.

"We told him no matter what the school says or their suspension of him, what he did was in fact right and justified," said Delancey.

"As a district, we're here to provide a safe learning environment," said Jeff Kirtland, spokesperson for School District 51.

District 51 says it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to fighting -- and students who get into fights will face consequences.

Officials do say, however, they investigate bullying incidents thoroughly, and pending the outcome of the investigation --

"Could a student potentially be exonerated from a disciplinary issue? Absolutely," said Kirtland. "That's the work we have to do as a district."

Delancey says more work needs to be done.

"I'm hoping the schools re-evaluate their bullying policy," said Delancey.

That's just what the new School Equity Advisory Committee created by the school board will be doing over the course of the year. Officials say this could very well be a topic they bring up.

"If we're not doing something that's best practice, we want to change it so it is best practice," said Susana Wittrock, Director of Equity for School District 51.

Whatever happens, Delancey says he's just glad his son took a stand against bullying and hopes other students will join him.

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  • by Smart Location: GJ on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:56 PM
    When kids can bully with the reduced risk of being hit back bullying increases, naturally if they fear the victim will fight back you reduce the overall bullying. These rules are creating synthetic bullies.
  • by Gary Location: GJT on Mar 24, 2011 at 04:05 PM
    Bill: I was speaking of the boy in the video.
  • by Bill Location: Grand Valley on Mar 24, 2011 at 03:48 PM
    I think unless you were actually there you should have NO response! Facts are really important right? So why are parents making comments about policy concerning their own kids that make it bias! How about listening to what the school's policies are instead of taking some whinebag parents OPINIONS might be because their kid was held ACCOUNTABLE...something that ought to be done more at home to begin with!
    • reply
      by Mike on Mar 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM in reply to Bill
      Bill, Do you have kids in school? I do, and like many others here I have instructed my kids to defend themselvs. I will deal with the school if the school has issues with the way they protected themselvs. I know first hand that if you don't let people learn to protect themselvs then they are always going to be victims. I personally do not leave home without my sidearm, again to protect myself and my family if the need arrises. When seconds count the cops are only minutes or hours away. And the same thing goes for teachers, by the time they arrive the damage is done.
  • by Gary Location: GJ on Mar 24, 2011 at 01:36 PM
    They boy who retaliated should be COMPLETELY exonerated !
  • by Brian on Mar 24, 2011 at 09:35 AM
    As a parent, my children have been bullied and told the authorities only to be bullied worse by not only the bully but then the bullies friends. Once they defended themselves then they were suspended. I agree with previous posts that the message being sent is that of injustice.
  • by Jason Location: Meeker on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:51 AM
    It's time for our kids to stick up for themselves. I applaud all these kids that fight back and to the parents who think that it's wrong to fight back...well maybe someone needs to bully you for awhile and we'll see if anyone really comes to your rescue!
  • by kris Location: gj on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:26 AM
    Both of my kids have been victims here in gj and they did get in trouble for defending themselves. It's a system that does not work and they DO NOT change the punishment even when your kid tried to avoid the fight
  • by Rachel Location: GJ on Mar 24, 2011 at 07:56 AM
    I agree with Szabla. Why didn't the spectators get punished as well? They allowed it to happen, no one went for an authority figure, instead they video taped their friend sucker punch someone bigger than himself. I don't care who started what between those boys, someone should have stopped the kid after one punch.
  • by Szabla Location: Gjt on Mar 24, 2011 at 04:13 AM
    District 51 zero tolerance is typical of an incompetent policy that exacerbates the fighting problem not alleviates it. If you defend your selves, you the victim, will get in trouble. This is the dream of every “rapist and pedophile, and wife-beaters” out in the world, to have the schools teach the children early that if they do anything to stop an abusive attack, the victim will get in trouble. If you are attacked, you have a right to defend yourself in any situation including schools; this zero tolerance policy shall be ignored at all cost. Anyone who promotes this defensive Zero tolerance does not have the mental capacity to be around our children and should be fired.
    • reply
      by Nun on Mar 27, 2011 at 07:15 PM in reply to Szabla
      The policy is part of the liberal indoctrination that has take over academia in this country. Students are taught to never question authority. Never stick up for their own ideas or values. Accept everything their told at face value.
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