Mark Bladen says he only meant to talk to his daughter’s bully. But seeing the young man’s reaction was too much.
As news.com.au reports, Mark’s 15-year-old daughter, Kalani, had been going through months of ill-treatment, both online and in person. Speaking to 60 Minutes Australia, the Brisbane teen said that she was spat on, pushed, and called “gorilla” and “King Kong” by her tormentor — the insults intended to be a reference to the young woman’s body hair.Screenshot/60 Minutes Australia
Kalani didn’t tell her parents the full extent of the bullying she was going though, but both Mark and her mother Jennifer knew enough to be concerned. So when Mark found his daughter in tears over the constant abuse, he decided to intervene. He told 60 Minutes:
“I couldn’t talk to her. And then, I basically said, ‘Where is he?’ and she says, ‘He’s at the skate park.’ I said, ‘All right, I’m going to talk to him,’ and she said, ‘No don’t,’ but I was adamant because it had been going on too long.”
Having made up his mind to confront the 14-year-old boy who had been bullying his daughter, Mark still had nothing more than a verbal dressing-down on his mind. He told 60 Minutes:
“I knew straight away that I was going to give him a good, old-fashioned talking to, so I walked down there with purpose, with an aggressive kind of demeanor, spotted the group. I wanted to belittle him in front of his friends, the same way he always did with Kalani.”
Having said what he came to say, Mark was nearly ready to leave. The young man hadn’t spoken, but when the bully smiled at the irate dad, it was more than Mark could take.
A video captures the moment when Mark lunged at the teen and began choking him. The dad frankly admitted to 60 Minutes that the bully’s smirk is what set him over the edge: “That’s when I snapped. Next thing I knew, my hands were around his neck.”
It was several moments before Mark and the boy were separated, and as Mark walked away he was thinking more about how he’d accomplished his task than anything else.
The incident landed Mark in legal trouble. He pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was fined $1,000. He now admits that he shouldn’t have put himself in that situation and calls it “a stupid thing to do.” While he regretted his actions as soon as the incident was over, he also denies that he became the bully.
Despite the protestations of regret, the assault charge, and the criticism for how he handled the situation, Mark has become something of a folk hero for many. When 7 News Brisbane posted the video of the assault on their Facebook page, many parents spoke out to defend him.
And at Mark’s local darts club, his friends were sympathetic to his way of handling the bully. One told 60 Minutes, “Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. […] I would hope he would do it again.” Another said, “He’s got to stand up for his family. His family comes first.”
Following his sentencing, Mark offered a written apology to the boy he attacked, who says that he is still traumatized by what happened. Mark knows that he let his “standards lower” in the moment he choked the bully. However, his message is mixed. On the one hand, Mark advised parents not to do the same as he did. On the other hand, he also had something to say about karma:
“We live in a day of PC, political correctness, and I hate it. I absolutely hate it. When I was young, a lady was treated as a lady. It should be the same now. It’s not hard to have respect for somebody. I’m a great believer in karma. You give respect, you get respect back.”
Mark also confirmed that since the confrontation, the bullying of his daughter has stopped.