Pies' troller: As soon as I did it, I knew I shouldn’t have
DAYNE Beams has forgiven the 13-year-old boy who trolled him in the days before he announced he would step away from the game, but the boy's father says the "bizarre" saga provides a cautionary tale about the perils of social media.
It was Jack who trolled Beams on Instagram about betting and about Beams not having a father.
It made national headlines.
The two of them spoke over the phone last Saturday night, when Jack apologised and Beams accepted his apology.
Jack, the captain of his football team, resigned as captain the next day.
After he and his teammates had put on their footy gear, Jack stood in front of the group and told them he had made a terrible mistake and that, as a leader, he had to be better.
"Sorry boys, I've done something I'm not proud of, it's something we can all learn from, and I'm stepping down,'' he said.
Jack is 13.
Beams is 28 and this week he took an indefinite leave from Collingwood to deal with his mental health issues.
Jack's father Brad is horrified about the trolling and the possibility it played a role in what came next.
"Dayne is such a fine man,'' Brad said.
"He's going though a bit and obviously since last week and hearing what Dayne is now going through now, we feel terrible, absolutely terrible.
"So does Jack, and we hope we haven't had any impact on that or exacerbated the issues he's going through.''
Brad is a father of four and a workplace manager. He has been involved in football as a player, club president and a life member. A friend described the family as wholesome and much loved by the community. It has deeply affected all of them.
Brad wanted to talk to the Herald Sun.
He says this is a cautionary tale for teenagers and parents.
That Jack was threatened online with violence has also opened his eyes to the evils of social media.
Like most parents, they had rules for Jack and his use of his mobile phone.
They'd take it off him at night and hand it back in the morning.
A month ago, they allowed him to sign up to Instagram.
On the night in question, Jack was in his bedroom, it was about 8.30, and he and his mates were exchanging messages, and then an interaction with Beams started.
The first taunt was: "U wanna have a bet this weekend mate."
It ended with: "At least my dad's still alive".
Beams lost his father Phillip to cancer in March 2018.
On Wednesday as the Magpies star announced he was stepping away from the game, he issued a brave statement detailing his battle with depression and saying he hoped it would shine a light on the "real issue'' facing him and many others.
Beams' enduring grief over the loss of his father has been a major factor, it is understood.
Brad says he and his wife aren't social media savvy and that he was only alerted to Jack's comments the day after they were posted, by his oldest son.
"I felt terrible, absolutely disgusting,'' Brad said.
"To think anyone could write that, let alone my son, was absolutely devastating.
"Dayne does it for the fans and to give something back and it would be a thrill for a kid to speak to their stars. He does a really good thing. But to receive some of the comments he did ... Jack started it, Dayne retaliated which led to Jack's final post which was disgusting.''
By the next morning, the posts had spread like a bushfire.
Brad's work colleagues were aware of what happened, so was Brad's other children, and so was Jack's school.
"It was bizarre,'' Brad said.
He and his wife went to the school and took Jack out for the day.
Jack, Brad says, was also devastated.
"We tried to get an explanation. What led to this?'' he said.
"To think he could write that. We just tried to work out what forced him to write something like that, knowing how hurtful it would be to a person.
"He said, 'As soon as I did it, I knew I shouldn't have done that."
Brad partly blames himself for not being on social media and being aware of his son was posting.
"I take full responsibility for that,'' he said.
"We learned a huge lesson as parents ... not understanding the risks associated with social media.
"To be talking to randoms is risky, we didn't really comprehend it, my wife and I, and in hindsight we should never have allowed him on to this form of social media no matter how much he wanted to go on it.
"He had the phone, but now he's lost it. He will eventually get it back, but he's got to earn the trust back.
"I trusted my son that he wouldn't write that, he's a good kid, he didn't mean it, he's so remorseful.''
A family meeting was called. Mum, dad, the older brother and his two older sisters discussed the situation with Jack, which prompted him to step down as captain.
Jack also wanted to apologise.
He wrote a full-page letter of apology and sent it to Beams' management group.
Beams responded the same night and then the pair spoke on Saturday night.
"It's a valuable lesson to be learnt in regards to what content you put on social media and to understand on the other end of that there's a real person with real feelings that's taking it all on,'' Brad said.
"Don't be a hero behind the screen. Think of everything you write and the implications it has.
"From speaking to Dayne he's a fantastic young man, we wish him all the best, and we couldn't apologise enough.
"He was pretty much the same. He said 'I accept your apology, I just want it to stop and I don't want any more hurt for Jack, because I understand he's a young kid who made a mistake, he admits it and he's remorseful for it'.''
The hurt - and fear - for Jack came when other Instagram users viciously piled on him, not knowing he was a 13-year-old.
Brad was stunned by the abuse.
He read three minutes of comments but had to stop.
"I'd had enough,'' he said.
"My son hasn't been exposed to it because we took his phone. The comments were disgusting. You could imagine those writing it were thinking he was adult. I'd protect my son to the hilt and some of things on it were quite threatening.
"But I'm not taking any heed of all of that stuff, nothing will frighten us as far as going about our daily lives.
"If you thought an adult had written that you'd think how low could you possibly go, but being one of my own ... to say the least it was one of my lowest points as a parent I've been through.''
Clearly, the pain of the posts was thrust upon Beams, Jack and the whole family.
"We've all suffered, we've got his back obviously, but my other son and daughters copped it. There has been implications, but we're a strong family and we will work through the issues. Anyone who knows us knows we're not vindictive people, we're quite the opposite,'' Brad said.
The universally popular Fortnite game - which Jack plays with his mates - is also partially to blame, by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, Bradbelieves.
"Going through Jack's phone and looking at messages and seeing the way they speak to each other and the language they use, it stems from Fortnite,'' Brad said.
"They get on that, kill each other, and then sledge people. Kids need to learn that sledging in video games can't go into the social-media type of environment.
"Even some of the language on his phone we didn't think he was capable of. We made him explain it to us.
"It was so embarrassing for him. He's been very emotional. It has been for the whole family over the past week.''