Trend Alert: Parents Are Bullying Their Kids’ Bullies

bullyLast month we wrote about Debbie Piscitella, the Florida mom who was arrested after choking a 14-year-old boy who bullied her 13-year-old daughter on Facebook. While I don’t condone her behavior, I do get where Piscitella was coming from; I see how protective I am of my own children, ages 6 and 3, and I think I’d lose my shit, too, if a classmate dared to destroy them. Not surprisingly, the story sparked a huge debate, though many people empathized with Piscitella.

Now it seems we’re hearing a variation of this story almost every day. Earlier this week, for instance, 42-year-old Connecticut dad Philip Prokop was arrested after allegedly paying a 17-year-old girl $21 to attack a 13-year-old girl he suspected of bullying his daughter. (He denies those claims.)

“My daughter was put through torture and she finally came forward to tell us,” Prokup told WTNH-TV. His daughter, who just completed eight grade, appeared on the TODAY show and explained, “People would trip me in the hallways. Or grab my stomach and say that I was pregnant and ask me like how far along I was.”

Meanwhile, I just read yesterday about a mother in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who’s banned from visiting her child’s school without written permission. The details are sketchy but the mom, Kathy Lindsay, says she’s been trying to stop her daughter Hailey from being bullied by a group of classmates. The school board won’t discuss why they sent Lindsay a letter back in June informing her of their decision, but they insist there’s a reason (apparently it’s in response to a letter from Lindsay’s lawyer).

Lindsay told The Sault Star all she did was walk her daughter to class and make a number of phone calls to try to stop the bullying. ”They’re going to say I called often, and yes, I did,” said Lindsay. ”I called often, because it’s not taken seriously enough and that was my way of trying to get something done about it.” (Lindsay and her husband have since pulled both their children from school and are considering switching schools or homeschooling.)

I’m curious to know what exactly Lindsay said during these phone calls and if she made any threats against her daughter’s supposed bullies. If her story is like the other two then chances are she may have uttered a threat or two (this is speculation, of course). It’s difficult to comment without knowing the details but once again, I can’t help but think what I would do if I were ever in a similar situation.

I’d like to think I’d be calm and collected and that I’d handle any situation involving my children with grace and compassion. But who are we kidding? If, like all these parents above, I believed my child was being bullied and even worse, that nothing was being done about it I’d lose it, too.

The incidents speak of a larger issue, though, which is that parents are clearly feeling desperate. In so many of the stories I’ve been following, parents say they spoke to school officials and then went to police, only to be told there was nothing they could do to help. Which is scary and just plain sad. One of those parents is Chelsea Grimes, who earlier this year sent her teenage son to school with a stun gun. Darnell “Dynasty” Young, who’s openly gay, had reportedly been bullied for months; one day, after being swarmed, he fired the gun in the air, which sent his bullies running. (Young was promptly suspended until January 2013.)

”I had to do something to protect my child. I was in fear of losing my child, either at the hands of the bullies or either at the hands of himself,” Grimes said at the time. ”What is a parent to do when she has done everything that she felt she was supposed to do?”

In any ways, Grimes’ sentiments echoes those of Piscitella, Prokop and Lindsay that terrible feeling of not being able to protect your child yet refusing to stand idly by. Sadly, I feel we’ll be hearing more and more stories like this, especially come September and the start of a new school year.

(Photo: Helder Almeida/Shutterstock)

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