The video is shot on a cellphone, in an outdoor school hallway.
In it, a scrawny teenager approaches an overweight kid and punches him in the face. The overweight kid doesn’t move—he just stands there. Then he’s punched again. “Wow,” says the giggly teen who’s filming, “this is getting sad, bro.”
A second later, the victim dives after the little one, picks him up and body slams him onto the concrete—wham!—and walks away. The little kid tries to stand. He limps as if he has brain damage. He falls down. The teen who’s filming laughs again—this time from fear. The smaller kid, Ritchard Gale, walked away with only a scratched knee
Asked later, the overweight kid, Australian tenth-grader Casey Heynes, says he “snapped” and has been bullied all his life and has had suicidal thoughts.
His father said he didn’t realize things had been that bad.
Kids, full of hormones, are bound to fight. But perhaps if parents shared more about their own childhood experience, teens would understand their feelings better. I’ll start. Here’s one.
As a young teenager, I was an extremely shy person of below-average height, with glasses, neither popular nor the school nerd (although being in the all boy’s chorus didn’t help my social status). I had anger over my parents’ divorce, but otherwise was even-tempered, kind and dutiful in school: An A- student. A teacher’s pet.
Someone in the all-girls’ chorus liked me. Elise was nice, but six inches taller, 50 pounds overweight and had bad skin. After smiling my way for weeks, she sent me a love note.
I never replied. Instead, with the urging of a buddy, I bought a canister of SlimFast, the weight-loss powder. I gift-wrapped it. And with the note “From Sam,” I had it delivered via one of her girlfriends. Standing 30 feet away, in an outdoor school hallway, I watched as she opened it.
Her friends reacted first, gasping and looking for someone to kill. But her: She smiled my way. It was a weak smile. I looked down. I never apologized. We never spoke again.
I had punched Elise in the face. And although no one had a cell phone camera to capture it, I’ll never forget her look. In that instant, I saw the “fat kid” for what she was: a person.
P.S. I got my comeuppance: Three years later, a school bully punched me in the face because I didn’t love heavy metal music enough. He then ran away in shock when he saw my bloody nose. Don’t you miss being a teen?