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Choking Your Child’s Bully, Lowering Facebook’s Age Restrictions and Why This is a ‘Win’ for Cyberbullies

I came across some news reports of a Florida mother choking her daughter’s Facebook bully. It seems that Debbie Piscitella was at her wits end! I cannot condone her behavior, but completely empathize with her feelings towards her daughter’s bully.

Some news reports have quoted what the bully wrote and suffice to say I don’t know any parent that wouldn’t want to strike with a vengeance.

But as adults we don’t.  And we shouldn’t. We want to model behavior that we want our children to emulate.

Also in the news, it’s been reported by several different outlets that Facebook is taking measures to lower the age restriction on their site. More on that tomorrow.

Why write about these two news stories? I think both stories delineate a huge problems with social networking – the lack of resources parents have to help keep their children safe from online bullying.

I shared a few tips on how to keep cyberbulling out of your home, but even the most attentive parent may not be able to keep their child one hundred percent safe from relentless online bullying.

Ms. Piscitella stated that she and her husband had reached out to school officials and the police to no avail. A question remains for me, “Why not reach out to the boy’s parents?

It’s a tough call and I can only speculate why Ms. Piscitella did not attempt that. It seems to me that the lack of oversight on the bully’s (identified as Jon in some new reports) online behavior by his parents is partially to blame for his behavior. The other part being Jon’s own moral code. If his parents had taken an active stance by discussing what they expected from their child online and monitored their child’s online behavior, perhaps the bullying could have been stopped before the choking incident. 

In her attempt to protect her daughter, Ms. Piscitella was arrested and is now facing child abuse charges for her altercation with Jon. In this situation no one wins: Ms. Piscitella is facing criminal charges, her daughter – McKenna- may still be bullied (and even worse because of what happened) and Jon may feel more justified to act inappropriately towards McKenna since he was physically hurt my Ms. Piscitella.

I hope that we can all learn from this unfortunate situation. What would you do if you were in her shoes? Contact the boy’s parents? Have your child deactivate her Facebook account until some type of intervention can be made with the bully and his parents? Go to the local school district?

Young bully photo available from Shutterstock.

Choking Your Child’s Bully, Lowering Facebook’s Age Restrictions and Why This is a ‘Win’ for Cyberbullies

Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT

Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT is a licensed creative arts therapist specializing in drama therapy. She currently is a counselor with the Freedom Institute Independent School Program providing psycho-educational workshops in over 50 Independent Schools in the metropolitan New York City area. Student workshop topics include: substance abuse prevention, digital citizenship and cyberbullying prevention, relational aggression, stress management and sexual decision making/healthy relationships. In addition to student workshops, Katherine also facilitates faculty and parent workshops regarding substance abuse prevention and digital citizenship/cyberbullying prevention. Katherine maintains a private practice in New York City working with adolescents and adults.

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APA Reference
Prudente, K. (2012). Choking Your Child’s Bully, Lowering Facebook’s Age Restrictions and Why This is a ‘Win’ for Cyberbullies. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 7 Jun 2012
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