If your child were being bullied, how far would you go to protect them?
This is the question parents are asking themselves today, after 60 Minutes featured an interview at the weekend with Brisbane dad Mark Bladen.
Mark was charged with assault after an incident in a skate park. He had gone there to give a stern talking to a teenage boy, who had been tormenting Mark’s stepdaughter for months.
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“I wanted to belittle him in front of his friends,” Mark admitted, “the way he had always done with Kalani.”
The whole thing was captured on camera. The initial confrontation… the moment where Mark snapped, and started to strangle the child… the panicked moments thereafter, where the kid’s friends struggled to get Mark to back off.
It’s unsettling footage to watch. In the interview, Mark says he lost control and that he knows what he did was out of order. He is clearly in the wrong, and he definitely deserved to be charged.
But, two things can be true at once. He can be wrong and right at the same time. Which is why some parents are shaking their heads at his violent outburst, while others are cheering.
For my two cents, what Mark did was unquestionably wrong. But it worked – the bullying has stopped. And in the same set of circumstances, I could and perhaps would do the exact same thing.
The full 60 Minutes story also includes an interview with Michelle and Quentin Pearson, whose 14-year-old son Kodi took his own life two years ago after being relentlessly bullied. Tears streamed down my face at the anguish in Kodi’s dad’s face.
I know that violence isn’t the answer. I know that bullies are often bullied themselves. I know the bully was only a child, and I know there are more effective ways to deal with a problem like this than resorting to such extreme behaviour.
But I also know that there are no bounds to what I would do to protect my kids from the debilitating anxiety, depression and mental anguish that extreme bullying can cause.
If my child came to me helpless and suicidal, I would have to do something.
If the teachers and the school couldn’t sort it, and the bully’s parents couldn’t sort it out, and if my child’s life was on the line, then I – like many parents – could be pushed to lose control like Mark did.
As Kodi’s mum says, “There needs to be some consequences.”
Kodi Pearson was bullied so badly it drove him to take his own life. No child should ever have to experience that, and no family should ever need to suffer the crippling grief of losing a young member of their family. Kodi’s message exists to help other kids and families avoid this horrific situation. Visit kodismessage.com.au.
If you are in immediate danger call 000 now. If you require advice or assistance, the following services can offer counselling and support:
Lifeline 13 11 14 | visit website
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 | visit website
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 | visit website
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 | visit website