Wife of English pro footballer sparks debate after applauding her daughter for punching her school bully in the face

Charlie and Bianca Austin with their children, a photo of their daughter's kicked leg
The mum applauded her daughter on Twitter for physically retaliating against her school bully. Photo credit: @BiancaAustin90 / Twitter, @charlie_austin89 / Instagram

The wife of a well-known English professional football player has attracted backlash online after she applauded her teenage daughter for attacking her school bully after weeks of torment.  

Bianca Austin, who is married to former Southampton player and current Swindon Town striker Charlie Austin, took to Twitter last week to praise her 16-year-old daughter Mallayla for punching the schoolgirl in the face after "weeks of being bullied".

In her tweet, which has since been viewed more than two million times and amassed more than 17,000 likes, the mother-of-three wrote: "After weeks of being bullied by the same girl, numerous phone calls to the school and nothing changing, today when being called names my daughter finally punched the bully in the face."

Alongside several clapping emojis, the 32-year-old added: "Proud mum."

In a follow-up tweet, Austin said her daughter had been punished with two days of "in-school exclusion" for the punch, while the other child is still able to attend class as she was "only verbally abusive".

"No wonder bullying is never stopped in schools," Austin vented. 

"I told the school how proud of her I was for standing up for herself when they rang up to tell me Mallayla would be sanctioned for retaliating violently. No child should be able to make school hell for another child day in, day out [sic]."

Her tweets quickly ignited a heated debate over whether or not physical retaliation against school bullies is an acceptable answer, with many calling out Austin for promoting and condoning violence. 

"Should never result into violence," one user weighed in.

"Your daughter should not be hitting anyone - ever. I get that bullying is awful and harmful but when I said that your daughter's actions would make things worse, you can now see where I was going. Bullying someone 'back' by hitting is also bullying," one woman responded, to which Austin hit back: "I'd be interested to hear how you'd suggest a resolution to the bullying... School couldn't stop it, it was wrecking her mental health and affecting her GCSE studies. What is the right course of action here?! Also she didn't 'bully' back. Bullying is repeated behaviour.

"She has no intent of malice, all she wants is to be left alone to quietly enjoy school," she continued. 

However, the vast majority agreed with Austin and threw their support behind her and Mallayla, applauding the 16-year-old for plucking up the courage to stand up for herself. Several shared their own stories of fighting their school bullies and how it affected the situation, with many claiming it had put a stop to the torment. 

"I got bullied for three years non-stop and did everything by the book and nothing was done. One day I built up the courage from somewhere to fight back and it stopped immediately. The only way to stop a bully in my opinion. Hope your daughter is okay," one shared.

"I did the same years ago. Was called in because my son had got a kid who was bullying his sister in a headlock. We sat in the headmistress's office and she said, 'I think you should have a word with him', I turned and said, 'Well done son, I'm proud of you'. Not the words she meant!" said another.

"I'm generally a pacifist, but the best bit of advice I was ever given was that you don't let bullies get away with it. Ignoring it didn't work; ignoring a fire doesn't put it out. If you are bullied, fight. If you see someone being bullied, fight for them," a third pitched in.

In another tweet, Austin shared a photo of a footprint on Mallayla's leg, claiming the bully would kick her as she walked into class.

In Aotearoa, both the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2018/19 and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 Wellbeing Reports show rates of bullying in New Zealand schools are high compared to many other countries and have been on the rise since the last PISA study in 2015. 

Older children can get support from WHAT'S UP, a free counselling service for kids, by phoning 0800 942 8787 between 1pm and 11pm or going to the WHAT'S UP website.