MOMENTS before Mark Bladen “snapped” and grabbed a 14-year-old boy by the throat, the suburban dad’s daughter Kalani begged him not to.
She had been crying in her room about the bullying she was subjected to – taunts that she says included being called a “gorilla” and King Kong”. The Brisbane teen had been pushed and spat on by a boy at her school.
“She was crying, she was upset,” Mr Bladen told 60 Minutes on Sunday night. “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.”
What happened next was caught on camera and led to Mr Bladen being charged with one count of assault occasioning bodily harm. It was March 3 at a skate park in Brisbane’s west when he tracked the teen down.
Footage shows Mr Bladen standing over the teen, pointing his finger at him. Then, as he describes it, the boy smiled at him and he “snapped” – his temper went “past maximum”.
“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 demeanour, spotted the group.
“I wanted to belittle him in front of his friends, the same way he always did with Kalani.”
Mr Bladen said he was “very close to leaving” when a look on the boy’s face pushed him over the edge.
“I’d said my piece and he just looked at me, he didn’t say a word and I was pretty close to leaving … and then he smiled at me.”
Asked if he could stop himself after he lunged at the boy, Mr Bladed said “No”.
“The meter had gone past maximum side. That’s when I snapped. Next thing I knew, my hands were around his neck.”
Mr Bladen pleaded guilty to the assault charge in Brisbane’s Magistrates’ Court on March 20 and was sentenced to pay $1000 with no conviction recorded.
Kalani’s mum Jennifer says her husband did “what I think any parent would do”.
“Looking back, what he did was not right, but his initial intention was to go down there and speak to him.”
She said there were too many nights when the pair found their daughter crying in her room.
“I would go into her room and have a look at tissues everywhere and I would be wondering when she had tissues.
“As a parent, you don’t know what’s happening in their room. You don’t even want to go into their room thinking they need their privacy. But under that roof, the privacy is not their privacy. It’s the whole world in there looking at them and telling them what they can and can’t do, and judging people.”
Mr Bladen, who is a hero to his mates at the local pub, said he doesn’t believe in political correctness.
“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.”
Asked if the bullying has stopped since he confronted the teen, Mr Bladen said simply: “Yes, it has stopped.”