(NEW YORK) — The Florida mom arrested for choking a boy who bullied her daughter on Facebook admits she “lost it” when she put her hands around the boy’s neck in the middle of a mall while her daughter watched.
“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,” Debbie Piscitella said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “So I lost it. I really, really did.”
“I lost my temper,” she continued. “I wish it would have been another route I had taken. I don’t go around doing that to children. I don’t want to sound like I’m a huge monster.”
Piscitella, 46, and daughter McKenna, 13, were shopping at a St. Petersburg mall last Monday when the pair spotted the girl’s alleged online tormentor, a teenage classmate. Piscitella confronted the boy and put her hands around his neck, according to police. The boy, whose name was not released, had, according to Piscitella, taunted her daughter online after the girl posted a picture of herself taken by her younger brother after a concert.
“It’s the nasty things that he was saying about her [McKenna],” said Piscitella, who admitted that her emotions got the best of her. “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 upset Piscitella’s daughter was not witnessing her mom attack her taunter, but the comments made by the boy.
“Just the things that he was saying about me,” McKenna told GMA when asked about the worst part of her family’s now very public ordeal.
Piscitella was arrested on a child abuse charge a few hours later, after the boy’s mother saw red marks on her son’s neck and decided to press charges. Piscitella was released on bail.
While not commenting on the child abuse charge pending against her, Piscitella said she and McKenna’s father, Jim, had tried to contact authorities to end the bullying against their daughter before it went too far.
“I went to the school. I went to the SRO, the School Resource Office,” she said. “They [McKenna’s father] contacted the police even that night and they were like, ‘Oh, there’s nothing we can do about it.’
“They have all these anti-bully laws but, when it comes down to it, it falls on deaf ears.”
Piscitella said there are lessons that other parents can learn from her experience.
“I want people to, obviously, try to go through the proper channels,” she said. “I want you to monitor your children and what your children are doing on Facebook because, obviously, if you look on the Facebook of the children in question, the things that are on there, as a parent, I would shut it down immediately.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Pamela Brown, CNN
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN