FILED IN: Bullying

Mom chokes boy, 14, over cruel comments he made about daughter on Facebook

Debbie Piscitella allegedly choked a teen boy after he made comments to her 13-year-old daughter on Facebook that she was so ugly he wouldn't even rape her. Photo via Police Handout

A St. Petersburg, Florida, mother allegedly choked a 14-year-old boy at the Tyrone Square Mall over nasty comments he made about her daughter on Facebook.

Debbie Piscitella, a mother of three, was allegedly caught on store camera grabbing the boy’s backpack and choking him, leaving red marks on his neck.

Debbie was at the mall shopping with her 13-year-old daughter, who pointed the boy out to her and told her that he was the boy that had just made hateful comments towards her on Facebook only hours earlier.

Debbie’s daughter had uploaded new pictures of herself at a concert she had attended onto Facebook, to which the male high school freshman commented on with saying that the girl was so ugly he wouldn’t even rape her.

The girl’s father, Jim Piscitella, 47, said he got online and told the boy to stop making the comments about his eighth-grade daughter. The boy’s response was more explicit sexual comments about his daughter.

“It was just vulgar,” Jim Piscitella said, reports the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s just mean.”

So when his wife and daughter saw the teen at the mall just hours later he says, “It was the perfect storm. There was no cooling off period,” Jim Piscitella said to the Tampa Bay Times. “It was just a stupid mistake.”

Debbie, who was arrested and charged with child abuse after the teen called police, took to Facebook later and said, “I shouldn’t have done that.  But you all do not even come close to understanding all the torment they have put my child through.”

She went on to say, “I had 6 different Pinellas county sheriff officers tell me that if that were their child and the same thing would have happened that they would have done worse than what I did, and they said that they understood exactly why I did it.  And if anyone has ever even seen my daughter she is absolutely beautiful, inside and out.  She’s a good girl.”

The teen boy initially told police he didn’t want to press charges, but after an officer called his mother and she saw the red marks on his neck she decided to go ahead with charges against Debbie.

The teen boy’s mother, Keysha Tipton, 38, a single mom who once taught classes on anger management and parenting, told the Tampa Bay Times, “I’m pretty disgusted by it.  A grown woman attacking a 14-year-old is just inexcusable to me. As an adult you know better.”

She went on to say, “By all means, if my son needs to apologize for what he said, he will be apologizing. But regardless of how mad you get, you don’t put your hands on anybody – especially a child.”

Debbie was released from jail on $5,000 bond.

But the question remains, how involved should parents get when their child is being bullied by another?

St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said that it isn’t a new thing for parents to want to protect their children against bullies, but now with the Internet and websites like Facebook, it is much easier for them to see exactly what is being said in black and white.

“Every so often we will run into cases where parents will see these postings.. and as parents are inclined to do, their first reaction is to go to the source,” he told the Tampa Bay Times.

However, he said, parents should instead work with their child’s school and law enforcement.

“Don’t go and confront the child with it,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “Parents are going to take exception with you trying to discipline their kids.”

He also reminded parents that they need to monitor their children’s activities online, though in this case both sets of parents said they did.

In fact, the Piscitellas say it was their monitoring of their daughter’s Facebook that lead them to seeing the cruel comments the teen boy made towards their daughter to begin with.

Sources:  The Tampa Bay Times, the Daily Mail