A chubby Australian boy has rocketed to YouTube stardom after a classmate recorded a cell phone video of him body-slamming a smaller boy who’d been taunting him in the schoolyard.
The clip shows the apparent bully, seventh-grader Ritchard Gale, teasing and punching his victim, Casey Heynes, as a gang of other kids laugh at the abuse. Heynes, who is in the 10th grade, takes the bullying for a while, but then snaps and picks Gale up and throws him down on the concrete floor. Gale eventually gets up and limps away.
Both boys were suspended from their school, Chifley College in New South Wales, outside Sydney. Gale’s mother has demanded an apology for the body-slamming of her son, and the bad publicity her family has received because of the YouTube video. But public support seems to be overwhelmingly on the side of Heynes, whose father said he’d been bullied for years without fighting back.
“People pick on him every single day. They hit him around and stuff, and he just got sick of it and let out the anger,” an unnamed classmate of the two boys told Australia’s Telegraph newspaper.
More than 100,000 people have joined a Facebook group defending Heynes, with some dubbing him “Casey the Punisher” and Gale, “Ritchard the Rat.” The global computer hacker group Anonymous also rushed to Heynes’ defense, launching what it dubbed “Operation Fat Hero” in which it hacked into the website of the boys’ school, Chifley College, and posted a manifesto accusing teachers of “failing to provide a violence-free for their students.”
Heynes’ YouTube video and Facebook group have drawn more attention in recent days to the problem of childhood bullying worldwide. Last week, President Barack Obama opened a White House conference on boosting anti-bullying programs in U.S. schools.
“With big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune,” Obama told about 150 students, parents and teachers gathered at the White House last Thursday. “I didn’t emerge unscathed.”
Obama also announced the creation of a new government website to address bullying concerns: StopBullying.gov