A Brisbane stepfather has snapped, attacking the 14-year-old bully who’s been tormenting his stepdaughter. In our current epidemic of violence and online bullying in Australian schools, too many parents know how he feels.
Most of us have been ‘there’. We’ve thought about retaliation.
You hear all term about the kid who’s harassing your child. At first it starts off with the occasional teasing, and then escalates to outright torment. This kid is making school hell for your child – who now doesn’t want to go to leave the house. Your beloved child feels unsafe, is scared, and can’t take much more.
You’ve tried everything to make it stop. The school isn’t helping. Then one day something happens, and you’ve had enough. You contact the parents. You go to the police.
And then there’s the stepdad who took it too far on Sunday, in a skate park where his daughter’s teenaged tormentor was hanging out with his mates.
— 7 News Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) March 5, 2018Advertisement
Seven News obtained footage of the violent confrontation, where the man can be seen to be shouting at the teenager, and then lunging at him – covering him with his own body as he grabs his neck.
His fury is understandable. Every parent can relate to that fierce, innate need to protect your child.
We’ve seen that sort of emotion previously this year, in this Facebook post written by the father of 14-year-old Dolly Everett, who died by suicide. The post demonstrates the fear that all parents have about the consequences of cyber bullying.
What happened to Dolly will forever be in every parent’s conscience, and it will motivate us in visceral ways.
It’s simply never, ever acceptable for an adult to assault a child.
The 53-year-old man is a stranger to the child. He went to the skate park with the intention of confronting the child. You can see in the footage that the child is sitting down, and he’s standing over him and shouting. And the next second, he’s covering him with his body and throttling him.
This is assault against a minor. It’s an unprovoked attack.
How would you feel if you were that boy’s parent?
In the aftermath of Dolly's suicide, Mamamia writer Bec Sparrow wrote,
"The simple truth is that Amy “Dolly” Everett should be here to live out her life and grow old. To read books and study for exams, to go to school dances and swimming carnivals, to fish for Black Bream in the river, to occasionally wag her university tutes, to jump on a plane to London, to walk the long, red dirt roads at home. To get married or not. To have children or not. To write poetry, to ride horses, to draw and paint and laugh."
But the thing is, that applies to every child - including the bullies. Media identity Meshel Laurie recently wrote about the time that she was accused of bullying, admitting that she's changed a lot since that time, and all she can do now is be a better person than she was then.
Every child - including the bullies - deserves the chance to grow and learn and do better.
No, this doesn't mean that they aren't accountable at law. But if and when they do something that is, that's for the police and the courts to handle. Not the parents of the victim.
Because, as we can all see, this man hasn't helped the situation; he's escalated it.
It's eerily reminiscent of this CCTV footage from the Don Dale Detention Centre that went viral last year, where you can clearly see a minor is attacked in an entirely unprovoked incident.
There's not a lot we currently know about the events that led to Sunday's assault in the skate park. But I think we could all assume, with the father being charged with assault occasioning bodily harm, that his daughter is receiving some 'feedback' from her classmates: is she a 'daddy's girl'? Is she from a 'feral' family? Can't she look after herself? Undoubtedly, the incident, which was filmed by one of the victim's mates and has been most likely shared on social media, has brought her negative attention.
So what did this outburst of anger achieve? Did it result in any improvement in the situation? Most likely not. Did it traumatise not only the victim, but the other children present? Definitely. So has this made things worse for his daughter? Most likely yes.
And on top of that, he's criminally hurt a child.
No matter the situation, no matter how much we as parents may want to, no adult has a right to assault and victimise a child.
If you are struggling and feel alone, please call one of the following numbers:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.
If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
LISTEN: Bec Sparrow talks to Holly, Mia and Jessie on Mamamia Out Loud about the dangers of cyber bullying and what we can do to stop it....