Florida Mom Regrets Choking 14-Year-Old Bully – But Can You Really Blame Her For Losing It?

online bullyingDebbie Piscitella has been all over the news lately – and for a pretty crappy reason. The Florida mom was arrested last week after choking a 14-year-old boy who bullied her daughter on Facebook. She and her daughter, 13-year-old McKenna, were shopping at a mall when they spotted the boy, who happens to be a classmate. Piscitella confronted the boy and put her hands around his neck while her daughter looked on. “I lost my temper,” she explained today on Good Morning America. “…I don’t go around doing that to children.”

The thing is, I believe her. I’m not saying what she did was right – heck, even Piscitella knows it was completely wrong – but can you really blame this woman for losing it? We’re talking about her child here. This girl was reportedly tormented and bullied by some asshole kid who apparently told Pisticella that he wasn’t going to stop and that he didn’t have to stop. Violence is never the answer but, well, if someone did that to my child, I’d probably lose it, too. Even just watching this girl on GMA today made my blood boil; she barely said a word yet she was crying and you could just see how upset – and totally vulnerable – she felt. It was actually pretty heart-wrenching.

Piscitella, for the record, was arrested and charged with child abuse just a few hours following the incident (she has since been released on bail). That’s because the boy’s mother decided to press charges after spotting red mark’s on her son’s neck. Again, I’m not saying Piscticella did the right thing, but I know few people who wouldn’t have done the same.

According to Piscitella, the boy began bullying McKenna after she posted a picture of herself taken by her younger brother after a concert. “It’s the nasty things that he was saying about her,” Piscitella said.  “What really, really did it was when she was so upset about it.  She wanted to hurt herself. That, to me, as a parent, seeing my daughter like that really angered me.”

What’s really scary is that Piscitella and McKenna’s father, Jim, said they had called both the school and police about this boy’s bullying but were told repeatedly that nothing could be done. “They have all these anti-bully laws but, when it comes down to it, it falls on deaf ears,” Piscitella said. She’s asking all parents out there to monitor what their children are doing on Facebook and to essentially take some responsibility.

What do you think? Clearly Piscitella should not have touched this boy but do you get where she’s coming from? What would you have done if this were your child?

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  • manticore388

    Yeah, not a good approach but as a parent, I get why she lost her temper. The kid wasn’t actually hurt so would I want to see her convicted of a crime? Not really. On the other hand, bullying has been around since…forever. Why have we become such wimps in this country that we let the words of an idiot affect us so much? I don’t get it.
    I also admit I love it when people say “violence is NEVER the answer”. Uhh yeah I’m sure Hitler would have negotiated. Like he did with Neville Chamberlain? That statement is not real-world.

  • Rick

    If the police and the bully’s parents refused to act she did exactly the right thing. I would have injured him in a way he would never forget, in a way he would think about every time he took a painful step. People who behave in this manner should be permanently hobbled.

  • VineyardMom

    While I don’t condone anything done on EITHER side….. the age limit for Facebook is 14. Parents need to start enforcing this, and Mark Zuckerberg needs to step up to the plate and up the age to 18. You have a parent here who is knowingly allowing her daughter to violate the rules, then complains because she is being bullied on a social network she is technically forbidden from being apart of. God Forbid she deactivate her daughters account so the bullying stops

    • Tara Paisley

      Actually, the age is 13 and both of them are old enough for facebook….

    • FalconTypo

      But obviously not mature enough for it.

    • Missy

      I have seen adults not mature enough for it

    • FalconTypo

      That’s the truth, too. An adult choking a 14-year-old is disgusting behavior, and by law, assault. She should do jail time.

      Meanwhile, child after child is being bullied, committing suicide, etc. all due to social networking. At the very least, the mother should have made her daughter “unfriend” the bully in the first place.

      These adults failing to raise their children and behave themselves are train wrecks, and a thorn in society’s side.

  • grit

    Sounds like the parents need to counter sue the bullies parents, if everything is in writing it would be hard to lose a harassment case.

  • Nilza Ivone

    If I was the mother of the bully kid, I would have punished him/her, by taking away what they love the most, no going out with friends, no movies, no hang outs, etc.. for a year.

  • mothersprotecttheirchildren

    I was bullied a lot when I was a kid, and no one did ANYTHING to stop it. First of all, the other kids who were bullying me were a brother/sister pair along with a couple of their cousins. Those people were (they have since overdosed :)) the town junkies and their parents were in prison, they all lived with the grandma who was on heroin as well, so talking to the parents got me laughed at and beat up worse. My own grandparents didn’t stick up for me because they didn’t want problems with that other family because they were drug addicts and criminals, so going to my family didn’t help either. The school pretended it wasn’t happening, the police didn’t even bother to write a report ANY of the times I got beat up. After the forth or fifth time – when I had to go to the hospital, we gave up on calling the cops. I was in 2nd grade. You know what saved me? When I was in high school I joined a gang. They protected me from those kids and even paid them back for beating on me as a kid. After I got involved with 18th Street nobody messed with me. Fast foward 20 years. About 3 years ago I was picking up my daughter from school. She had been having problems with 2 boys who were harrassing her almost daily. I went to the principal who told me there was nothing he could do about it. Teachers who had witnessed the bullying also pretended that they didn’t see anything. (I have found that most teachers actually completely lose the ability to see once they get playground duty) This day I was picking her up, she was sitting on a bench by herself crying – a teacher nearby acted like she wasn’t even there. As I got closer to her, she looked up at me and I saw her face was all scabbed up and her hair was messy with leaves in it, and her pants were ripped at the knees and her knees were all scraped up. She ran into my arms and told me that the 2 boys had pushed her down, dragged her and stomped on her, then took her backpack and dumped out all the books on her as she laid on the ground. I talked to the teacher on duty who insisted she didn’t see anything then later said she actually thought they were just playing. It turns out, the incident happened right in front of the vice principal who did NOTHING to stop it. I tried to talk to the boys’ parents, just to be told that my daughter is a cry baby by one of the boys mom, and the other wouldn’t even talk to me. So I handled it myself. I found those two little jerks at a nearby park, and I beat the crap out of them. They were 11 years old. To this day no one has ever been mean to my daughter again. In fact, after that incident, the other students that had been acting like jerks stopped acting like that with her. They are still bullying other kids, though, but not mine. You all can judge me if you want to, but my child is safe because of me and she knows beyond all doubt what I will do to protect her.

  • DAVE

    The first thing I would do is have a discussion with the parent of the bully assuring them further action would be forthcoming. Depending on the outcome of that would determine my next step. If the parent agreed to make it stop I would let them have time to make it happen. If my daughter reported a repeat offense then a stern private conversation with the boy would be in order. Any other report of abuse from my daughter and a private come to Jesus meeting with the bully would follow, without witnesses and the cycle would stop.

  • David Rudenstein

    Mom was wrong. Physical violence only appropriate if boy-in moms presence- was physically assaulting the girl. Mom did right thing by going to school but if school could not help, self help here was not a good idea. Mom should have written a letter to boys parents. Mom could have asked a third party to host a sit down. Mom could have talked to DA and sought a protection order if possible or sought charges based on harassment or stalking. Mom could have hired an attorney to tell parents they might get sued. If none of that worked, tell daughter to get off of social media and to refrain from reading evil comments. Lastly,teach daughter to ignore stupid and hurtful comments of others as we cannot as a society legislate away every wrong undertaken by others.

  • FalconTypo

    Why did this mother let her daughter even ON Facebook? She’s too young and immature. And the other mother is negligent, as well, for the same reason.

  • C Woods

    I was a teacher in Jr. Hi. & Middle Schools for —well —forever. I retired before schools adopted policies against bullying.

    When I taught school, in most cases a bullied child either couldn’t or wouldn’t do what needed to be done, ignore the bullying or confront the bully. Or, occasionally, there was a student who “marched to the beat of a different drummer,” so to speak. (I’m thinking of one boy who wore bizarre outfits that I thought his mother might have chosen for him, but he told me he picked out his own clothes.) He was upset that kids made fun of his clothes but wouldn’t dress more like the other kids to make it stop. (They probably would have picked on something else anyway.)

    Yet, even when there was bullying where I taught, I never thought it was so bad that someone would commit suicide. Maybe I didn’t know how bad it could be for some children. Today, however, I think one problem is that with Facebook, email, and text messaging, it can be constant, repetitive, anonymous, and so much worse.

    At one time there was a new student —a stunningly beautiful, mixed-race girl of about 13 —who we later found out had been bullied by a group of girls calling her a “zebra” and worse. (This girl was so gorgeous, I’m sure a part of it was jealousy.) She never told anyone, but one day when students were outside at lunch time, the new girl pinned one the the bullies to the ground and was punching the lights out of her. Of course, we had to pull her off and deliver the girls to the principal where they were both suspended for a week. (Instead of sending the kids home, our school had in-school suspension where students were supervised and had to complete school work and work on responsibility training. ) Although I don’t condone violence, I was secretly impressed with the new student. The mother of the other threatened to sue and also threatened the new girl and her family, but nothing ever came of it because in the responsibility training part of her suspension, the bully admitted, in writing, what she and others had done, although she wouldn’t name them. The new girl had no more problems.

    As someone else mentioned, I can’t tell you how many times a parent said, “My child wouldn’t do that” or “My child says s/he didn’t do it and s/he never lies.” I wish I had video tapes to prove that they did.

    In our school, if I talked to A’s parent about his/her behavior, I wasn’t allowed to mention the name of student B. Therefore if I said that A was bullying another student and the parent asked who, I was not permitted to tell and therefore the parent dismissed what I said as untrue. Of course, I’m sure if they had confronted their own child s/he would have coughed up a name immediately —probably claiming that person was trying to get him/her into trouble. In one case, after I talked to a girl’s mother, she called the guidance counselor and demanded her daughter be removed from my class because I lied about her daughter. I gave the guidance counselor the names of 3 students who had witnessed the abuse, but he removed the girl from my class anyway. Well, then, her new teacher had to call home to report more bullying.

    Kids often don’t tell parents or teachers about bullying. Weeks or months later, they can’t remember what day it happened or who else might have seen it. Action should be taken immediately —as soon as an incident happens. So parents need to encourage their children to report all incidents immediately. Maybe the first few times, they can just talk about how it started and how to react. But even if the incident seems minor, they should write down the date, time, place and who was present so that, if it gets worse, they have a record. I might even suggest a tiny tape recorder for a child’s pocket, that s/he can click on when a bully starts the next time. (You might want to check local laws about that.)

    Encourage your children to stand up for others who are bullied. If they do, those students might do the same for your child. And seeing your child’s courage, others who are witnesses might have the courage to stand up for someone else who is being bullied.

    All of that being said, I read some recent statistics (sorry I can’t remember where) that show that since anti-bullying programs have been initiated in schools, bullying has actually increased. Perhaps those who never thought of it before are introduced to it in school programs. Or maybe it’s just the rebellion of youth that makes kids what to do what they are told NOT to do.

    A recent study found that more students began to smoke among those who had been taught the dangers of smoking than in groups where students were taught about how the media manipulates one into believing smoking is cool or glamorous and how actors like Stalone have admitted to being paid by tobacco companies to smoke in movies. Maybe a similar approach needs to be taken toward bullying. Kids hate to be manipulated, so teaching them about how bullies are trying to control them might work.

  • Bullying has to stop

    There is no excuse for bullying. I am for the mother had it been my daughter It would have been worse. I would have filed charges against the boy as well as the parents they obviously don’t have a clue about their son actions and don’t seem to care.

  • fish

    One thing that kills me about these parents who claim they would do anything to stop this for their kid is that most of them always talk about they were bullied on facebook or other site. Ever hear of blocking, privacy settings, or just plain old cutting your 13 year old daughter off of facebood, since if this guy can get to her then ANYONE CAN!! My son does not and will not EVER have facebook with my consent, not only for his own protection, but also to keep him from being accused of anything. And even if my son was accused of anything, you let a mother who cannot control her daughters online activities touch my kid, someone is going to have to peel me off that bitch. But then again, I have taught my son better, and I’m present in his life to put a stop to stuff like this before it gets started. I feel for the girl, but there is a lot her mother could have done before putting her hands on someone else’s child, and becoming a bully herself.

  • Dmactds

    Kids today seem to be left entirely to their own devices and, as a result, they create no boundaries for themselves in proper behaviour or speech; if, as is described in the scenario above, the school authorities and civilian police did absolutely nothing, then the parents have no choice but to protect their children the best they can…, even if that means throttling the offender. They have to learn some way…, now don’t they?

    However, I’m sure the police reacted to the choking of the child very quickly; it’s a perfect illustration of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.!!”

  • Rebecca Gonzalez-Cook

    That’s when you find another kid that can bully the bully and make a point. Not necessarily have to touch them but you can damn sure scare the hell out of them. But GOD help the kid that decides to bully and injure one of my girls. My girls are pretty tough and ornery.

  • ThomasNeidhart

    parents and principals need to tell bullies and their families point blank – if their mentally ill children aren’t corralled and given proper treatment to cede their violent and emotionally harming ways, charges will be pressed, and the child will be kicked out of the district. Do it people, don’t be afraid, it creates a mess of a person (the bullied one) and that’s so damn unfair….

    ps – the bullied most definitely need told to defend themselves with a slap or punch if they’re being attacked, heck, if it’s an epic beating they’re taking, bite the hell outta of the attacker’s ear or fingers.

  • Henry

    Heck I would have done the same thing she did especially if my kid try to hurt themselves after being bullied…..I’m from the Caribbean we don’t play that.

  • Shanice Greene

    i think that boy need some help about what he did to that girl , i would’ve choked him too!!! i Don’t blame her!

  • NObullying

    If charges are going to be pressed then piscitella should tell the other mother that it was wrong, BUT if she continues, she’ll do it again and to both the boy and the mother lol. I think there is nothing wrong with what she did. Bullying is becoming synonymous with suicide.

  • Gyre54

    I’m glad she did what she did. It was honest, and the only sane recourse she was probably left with.

  • angryfrustrated

    can you sue parents for NOT taking responsibility for their kids actions? That might help in these types of situations.

  • Guest

    Anybody that would harm a child is a cowardly bitch.

  • Guest

    Im a bully and damn proud of it. All of u stupid loser nerds are either ugly, gay, or both and you deserve to get bullied.

    • rick

      Translation: “I was molested and I can’t afford therapy”.

    • Guest

      you should jump off a bridge, and so should your mom except she’s so fat she floats.

  • Maximus

    that’s why i have my son in martial arts

  • Daniel

    I would most likely do the same thing but instead i taught my son to fight back and he does. but later he’s the one who gets in trouble for defending himself against the bully. Our school systems suck. The victims always get the blame when they fight back. I’ve been to my son’s school to talk to the principal over and over and he promises to do something about it but I guess he’s too busy shining his new car he bought with our tax money.

  • Ashleigh Dowie

    When my sis was being bullied, I confronted the bully. The girl was scared shitless. All I did was talk to her calmly. I said, “If you keep messing with my sister, we are going to have problems.” She left her alone after that!

  • Barb

    Hey we went through worse things when my kid was in grade school, a Catholic grade school mind you and we had to end up pulling him out and sending him to a different school…it didn’t really stop but it was better. We went to the school and spoke with the principal and our childs teacher. At first they seemed to care but when it did not stop we were made to feel like s@*t when we futher complained. It got so bad my husband had to meet our kids after school and walk home with them and even then one of the days my son was attacked by another kid and his backpack was slashed…while my husband watched in horror, of couse he went to our sons assistance. The kid told my husband, “f@4k you, I wanted you to see.” We told the school and withdrew our child (not wanting to sue) and hoping that it was over for our child. A month later the kid showed up at our house and was tormenting our child from the alley. My husband filmed him and then callled his step father who came over and caught the kid in the act. I do not know what happened to the boy after his dad came to get him as we never saw him again. Several years later the kid came to my sons place of employment and appologized for what he had done and asked my son to forgive him. My son said that the boy explained he was acting out because his mom had remarried, not using this as excuse but the kid told my son that he was sorry and thought about what he had done almost everyday. Would I have done things differently now? I dont know. Sad story but the mother should not have laid a hand on the kid. Sorry, we wanted knock the living s*#t out of our sons bully but didn’t. This mother is the adult and look where her stupid behaviour got her

  • Rebecca Kienzle

    Someone needs to be disciplining these assholes as children so they don’t become the little shits they are when they’re teens. The asshole bully deserved it, and unfortunately they’re gonna punish the mother who was the only person standing up for the victim.

  • thisgirlwon’tbebullied

    Just do what I did when some dimwit tried to bully me…kick the poo out of him and tell him to never look at me sideways or it will happen again. No more bullying.

  • Guest

    I would beat all your asses.

  • mike

    Actually, when my older daughter was 12, a 12 year old smuck of a boy was bullying her. One day I saw him outside by himself and went to have a little chat with him. I must admit to using every cuss word I know in telling him just what I was going to do to him if I heard he was continuing to bother my daughter. It scared the holy s….t out of him. He avoided my daughter like the plague from then on. That boy was sent to prison in his early 20′s.