Father Who Attacked Teen Bully Of Stepdaughter Speaks Out
An Australian father who was pushed over the edge when confronting the bully of his young stepdaughter has broken his silence after being caught on camera violently attacking the boy believed to be the culprit.
Liz Hayes of 60 minutes has conducted an exclusive interview with Brisbane man, Mark Bladen, who has said that he regrets his actions but claims that he couldn’t control his anger when he came face to face with his stepdaughter's tormentor.
The 53-year-old’s stepdaughter, Kalani, was bullied both in the school yard and via social media with deeply personal and horrifying comments.
“[I was] insulted about my body hair,” said Kalani on the show. “Called names like gorilla.”
The bullying appeared to get worse and worse over a period of six months, to the point where Kalani was actually physically shoved and spat on.
Kalani’s parents had been made aware of the attacks but it wasn’t until one day when Kalani called her stepfather in tears when he decided to step in.
“I just went over there to give him a good old fashioned talking to,” said Mr Bladen. “I wanted to belittle him in front of his friends, the same way he always did with Kalani.”
Of course, in today’s digital age the entire incident was caught on camera. Mr Bladen can be seen speaking quite aggressively with the teen boy. He told 60 minutes his only intention was to speak with the boy, but he claims things turned physical when the boy “provoked” him.
“He smiled at me,” said Mr Bladen. “And I warned him. I said, ‘You’d better wipe that smile off your face,’ and he just kept smiling. The next thing I knew my hands were around his neck.”
Liz Hayes questioned whether taking the incident into his own hands with the young boy in turn made him a bully and asked whether fighting bullying with further bullying was really the answer.
“I don’t know if I would call it being the bully. It was kind of a one-off incident, and I regretted it straight away,” answered Bladen. “So I wouldn’t say I was a bully. I would say that I was out of order.”
In March, Mr Bladen appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm. He was given no criminal conviction but he was fined $1000.
However, Liz Hayes was quick to point out during the interview that in the eyes of other parents, Mr Bladen was hailed a hero and not a criminal, with many parents able to understand the rage that Mr Bladen was feeling at the time.
Police arrived that afternoon and charged Mark with assault. Then the video of the brawl went viral. In the court of public opinion, Mark was hailed a hero. The overwhelmingly sympathetic view is shared by his mates at the local darts club. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/Ov2iAQUa2V— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) April 29, 2018
Thankfully, since the incident the bullying has stopped, but not everyone is this lucky and far too often there are reports on the news about children who have taken their own life after suffering through relentless bullying.
The statistics surrounding bullying in Australia are quite shocking, with one in five children being victims of torment. We also live in a terrifying technological and social media landscape which allows bullying to leave the school yard and follow kids home.
So what are parents in this day and age, when bullying is so rampant and so difficult to patrol, supposed to do to protect their children?
Do you think that Mr Bladen is a hero who did what any parent would have done in his situation or do you think he went about things the wrong way? How far would you go to protect your children?
Readers seeking help can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Help Line on 1800 551 800.
Source: 60 Minutes Australia