A group of despicable bullies viciously beat down a 12-year-old with special needs repeatedly, recording their attacks. They were made to regret it when the boy’s dad saw the footage and promised, “It’s gotta stop, no matter what.”
Rayden Overbay, a 12-year-old Yukon, Oklahoma boy with autism, has faced relentless bullying, and at least two of the brutal beatings he endured were captured on video, according to KFOR. One took place on a Thursday after school and another occurred the following day in the school bathroom. According to the boy’s mother, the two incidents are unrelated and just so happen to be within 24-hours of each other.
In the first video, taking place in a mobile home park, Rayden “can be seen exchanging punches with another juvenile and then being physically assaulted, seemingly unprovoked, by two juvenile subjects,” Major Matt Fairchild with the Yukon Police Department said. In the second video captured the following day, Rayden is punched in the school’s bathroom by a different person. According to authorities, he didn’t even fight back.
The cruel videos were circulated on social media, but Rayden’s tormenters didn’t get the reaction they had likely hoped for. As the footage went viral, most expressed outrage, with some going as far as to issue death threats against his attackers. Rayden’s father, Danny Overbay, demanded the bullying end. “It’s gotta stop, no matter what. Whether it’s my son somebody else’s son or daughter, it’s gotta stop,” he said.
Many others agreed with Rayden’s dad and expressed support for Rayden. In fact, the viral videos of Rayden’s beatings inspired a national campaign of support. “Because a couple of people or a few people decided to record it on video because they thought it was funny… is the only reason I am sitting in front of you today. Some of those kids claim to be my son’s friend, and that’s hard as a dad,” said Danny, breaking down in tears.
According to Rayden’s parents, the middle schooler has faced bullying his entire life because he deals with many challenges, including ADHD, ODD, ADD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, KFOR reported. “Our son is a high-functioning special needs child… just because we don’t label him as a special needs child, doesn’t mean that he’s not,” Rayden’s dad Danny said.
“As you saw in the video, he’s always been bigger than everybody. I would witness kids when he was like 8 or 9 just walk up and punch him square in the stomach,” said Scotlyn Overbay, Rayden’s mother, explaining how she has personally witnessed the bullying her son has suffered at the hands of other kids.
As the community responded to the videos with support for Rayden, a social media campaign under the hashtag #StandWithRayden also began. Those wanting to support Rayden and his family were encouraged to contact the nonprofit organization “Fight for the Forgotten,” which worked with the Overbays to make sure Rayden was doing well and feeling supported.
“Fight for the Forgotten” founder Justin Wren’s message is to spread kindness. “The purpose … is not to cast blame on the school of Yukon. It’s not to cast shame at all on the students that were involved … it’s actually to rally support, support for Rayden,” he said. “Just to surround them with love and encouragement and compassion and kindness is contagious,” Wren added, and Rayden’s parents agree.
While they are grateful for the support Rayden has received, Danny and Scotlyn are worried about the other kids involved and want everyone to stop and think. His parents are adamant that they do not condone cyberbullying against their son’s bullies and have condemned the death threats made against the children who were seen bullying Rayden in the video.
“These are adults threatening children,” said Scotlyn. “Threatening harm to children, which is totally unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to sit here and say adults quit threatening 12 and possibly 13-year-old children,” she added. And, it’s important to note that their punishment should be determined by the school and law enforcement, which is exactly what happened, not by internet bullies who are no better than the kids fighting Rayden.
Both the school and police were able to investigate and intervene, thanks to the video evidence the bullies themselves provided. Yukon Public Schools confirmed that disciplinary actions were taken against the students involved. They may also face additional punishment since the police were also investigating. “They could be facing charges of assault and battery and possibly bullying,” Major Fairchild said.
As for the Overbays, they said they have forgiven the bullies and do not blame the Yukon school where the bullying was recorded. “His mother and I forgive the babies for what they did, we forgive the kids for what they did. They made a mistake, they’re 12, they’re 13 they got a life to live,” said Danny. “They made a huge mistake, we forgive them as parents so please stop all the cyberbullying.”