Mum charged for tackling teen bully
Mum who assaulted her teen daughter’s bully is discharged without conviction
Nicola-Jane Jenks faced every parents’ nightmare for defending her daughter from a bully
The 50-year-old was charged with assaulting the girl who made her daughter’s life a misery
But she escaped conviction, with a judge saying one ‘bad decision’ should not affect the rest of her life ●Jenks regrets what she did — but says it was due to our rising bullying problem
An Auckland mum lashed out and assaulted a teenage girl who had been bullying her daughter — grabbing her by the hair and hitting her repeatedly in the face.
But Kingsland woman Nicola-Jane Jenks has avoided a conviction, with a District Court judge saying she had made a “bad decision” which should not impact on the rest of her life.
Jenks says she regrets the incident but it was the “consequence” of the ongoing bullying.
In May Jenks assaulted a 17-yearold near Mt Albert Grammar School after receiving a distressed phone call from her scared daughter.
Her child had been bullied for some time and it had a huge effect on the teenager.
Jenks effectively snapped and fought back to ease her child’s suffering. She was charged with common assault and pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court.
At sentencing on Thursday, Judge Tony Fitzgerald said Jenks had made a bad decision under circumstances that would have tested any parent.
“You quite rightly feel ashamed for the way you acted,” he said.
The court heard two years of physical and verbal bullying had foreshadowed the way Jenks acted on May 14.
Judge Fitzgerald said in October 2016 the teen had thrown a bottle at her daughter, striking her in the back.
Photographs show a bruise on the collar bone “that suggests it was thrown with some force” — an issue Jenks took up with the school and police.
Over time the bullying took a toll on Jenks’ daughter. Her hair was thinning, she experienced panic attacks, and her attendance was down at school, the court heard.
May 14 was the first time Jenks had met the 17-year-old involved in some of her daughter’s bullying. Words were exchanged and the victim told Jenks to “f*** off” and threatened to hit her, the court heard.
“What you then did was inappropriate,” Judge Fitzgerald said.
Jenks dragged the girl by her ponytail and hit her several times with an open hand. The teenager was bruised on the left cheek and scalp.
In a victim impact statement, the teenager said she no longer liked to be anywhere alone and felt humiliated that the assault occurred in front of her peers. She had sought counselling since the attack.
Judge Fitzgerald said an aggravating feature was that the assault happened in the vicinity of the school where the young women should have felt safe. Both girls felt they no option but to leave the school after the assault, the court heard.
“You are 50 years old and you should have handled it a lot better than you did,” said Judge Fitzgerald.
Factors to be considered in Jenks’ favour were that she had no previous convictions, had entered a guilty plea, engaged in volunteer work and counselling, and had offered to partake in restorative justice.
“Your remorse is deep and genuine.”
Judge Fitzgerald granted Jenks a discharge without conviction, saying a conviction would make it difficult for her to travel to other countries and would complicate similar applications — consequences out of proportion to the offending.
Jenks’ lawyer said yesterday she did not want to comment on the case as she felt the matter had been dealt with by the court.
After her first court appearance, in a previously unpublished interview, Jenks said she regretted her actions but said the problem of bullying in schools had to be addressed.
“It’s about bullying in schools and it just has to stop. This is the consequence of it.”
MAGS principal Patrick Drumm said the incident did not happen on school grounds. “We do not tolerate violence, harassment or bullying under any circumstances.”
Drumm said MAGS considered the health and safety of its students and staff as its primary responsibility.
He was unaware of any bullying of Jenks’ daughter during school time and understood that the conflict arose outside of school, between two families, during the weekends.
If any bullying had been alleged at school it would have “investigated the allegations and dealt with the issue comprehensively.”
You quite rightly feel ashamed for the way you acted. Judge Tony Fitzgerald
● Editorial: Onus on schools beyond the gate, p30