By Cory Stieg
February 7, 2017
Let’s back up a little: In September 2016, Dr. Phil had 13-year-old Danielle Peskowitz Bregoli and her mom, Barbara Ann, on his show because Danielle was stealing her mom’s car and was “out of control.” Actually, Barbara said she wanted Danielle put in jail or, as Dr. Phil succinctly put it, she “wanted to give up my car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old daughter who tried to frame me for a crime.”
“It’s hard to label, because we don’t know all the facts, but we know that when a young child acts out, those behaviors are usually a product of their environment and a warning sign that there’s more to the story,” says Bryan Pacheco, a spokesperson for Safe Horizon. “What has she seen in her life that’s encouraging her to act like that?” The Dr. Phil video would suggest she’s seen quite a bit, and Pacheco points out that her mom’s antagonizing language is concerning and could have egged her on — she calls her a bitch, a lot.
As Danielle tells her story, the audience starts laughing at her and she notices, saying, “All these hoes laughing like something’s funny,” and then the catchphrase was born, “Cash me ousside how bou dat.” (You can watch the full video here.) She means, “she’ll catch you outside to do what she needs to do to you,” Barbara Ann translates. Where’s the punchline? You didn’t miss anything: The Internet’s just taken to mocking and appropriating a minor’s violent threat.
While even the Dr. Phil show has its own issues (like most reality television, we can assume it’s edited in a way that doesn’t show all the facts, but rather a carefully curated puzzle of events), making memes and parodies of this teen’s threats of violence normalizes the behavior in a dangerous way, Pacheco says. “It doesn’t set appropriate boundaries, clearly it isn’t appropriate, but if it’s on TV it’s something to laugh at,” he says. Snowballing on the jokes isn’t just a bad way to address her behavior, it actually makes it worse.
It’s easy to laugh behind a computer screen, but there could be real-life consequences. Just today, a video surfaced on TMZ of Danielle punching someone on an airplane. “Not that it ever was a joke, but it shows what could happen to someone treating it as such,” Pacheco adds.
You should always be conscious of what you’re perpetuating, he says. “If you saw this behavior in real life with a family member or friend, it wouldn’t be behavior you wanted to nurture.” He also adds that there’s a layer of victim-blaming that goes hand-in-hand with the jokes, because many people are saying that there’s something wrong with her parents — while that could be true, speculating doesn’t help her, it just points more fingers.
In most cases, a child’s violent behavior is a call for attention and help, Pacheco says. They need a safe space — behind closed doors, not on national television — to speak with a counselor who can get to the heart of what they’re feeling or experiencing. “Any person who acts out like this, there’s going to be more to the story.”
Also remember: Danielle is 13 years old. “The way a mother interacts with her daughter when she was six, her development starts there, but by the time she’s 13 then the dynamics change because she might not be able to control them, or feel embarrassed by her behavior,” Pacheco says.