Florida Mom Attacks Daughter’s Bully: How to Handle It When Your Child Is Being Bullied
Last week, Florida mother Debbie Piscitella confronted and then assaulted her 14-year-old daughter’s bully at the St. Petersburg Mall. After her daughter posted a photo of herself on Facebook, the boy, also 14, left comments that said her daughter was a “fat f****** whale” who “didn’t deserve to live.” Piscitella, 46, said that the family had approached the school and police about the cyberbullying attack, but did not get help for the problem.
Piscitella, who was arrested on child abuse charges, confronted the bully when her daughter pointed him out. “I said, ‘Stop saying things about my daughter on Facebook,' and I did use some expletives, and I was told that he wasn't going to stop and he didn't have to stop. So I lost it. I really, really did.”
Child therapist Janet Lehman, MSW cautions parents of bullied kids not to take matters in their own hands. “As tempting as it might be to retaliate against the bully or his family, don’t do it. This is where you have to set some examples for your child on how to problem solve. It’s very difficult to hear that your child is being threatened; of course you want to immediately stop the hurt. But remember, retaliating won’t help your child solve the problem or feel better. Instead, take a deep breath and think about what you can do to help your child handle what he’s facing.”
In her article, Is Your Child Being Bullied, she advises parents to listen to what their child has to say and work with them on a response, as well as working with the school. She also warns against over-personalizing the bullying or taking on the problem for your own. “If you were bullied when you were younger, the same situation with your child will most likely bring up painful memories.” She says that it’s all right to connect with your child about how it feels to be bullied, “but don’t take the problem on as if it’s yours alone. I think the most important thing to do when your child is bullied is to remember the responses you received from others that were—or weren’t—helpful, and then coach them forward.”
While Piscitella didn’t comment on the child abuse charges pending against her, she advised parents to go through the proper channels when their child is being bullied, and not take matters into their own hands like she did.