If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the past few months, you’ve probably seen a meme or video with the phrase “Cash Me Ousside Howbow Dat” pop up. Most likely you either ignored it and moved on or, if you’re like me, needed to enter the phrase into Google to find out the meaning.
What I found was the story of thirteen-year-old Danielle Bregoli who appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil back in September 2016 titled “I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime.” Danielle’s outrageous behavior was the topic of conversation, but it was the moment she told the audience “Cash Me Ousside Howbow Dat” (which means “Catch me outside. How about that?”) that earned her the status of viral internet meme.
The last count by Dr.Phil showed that over 156 million people had viewed content of Danielle’s appearance. The 13-year-old now has a Facebook page with over 950,000 followers. She’s been featured in music videos and is selling merchandise related to her infamous words. Internet rumors surfaced that she had committed suicide due to the bullying and shaming she has incurred, but those were proven wrong when she recently made news as a result of an altercation she had while flying home from a follow-up taping of the Dr. Phil show that will air today. She’s a prime example that even negative attention is attention.
(Warning: The language in the videos for this post is not appropriate for children.)
Danielle Bregoli’s story may have been the one to go viral, but it is nothing new. It is obvious that she is a deeply troubled and hurting teen. When we dig a bit deeper than the outrageous meme, we find that her father left the home when she was a baby and now has a new family. Her mother has also battled breast cancer twice.
Danielle’s hometown newspaper featured her and her mother back in 2009 for a Mother’s Day special. The article tells the story of four-year-old Danielle accompanying her mother to all of the chemotherapy treatments and comforting her when she was sick. Beautiful photos from the article show Danielle as a very sweet girl, devoted to caring for her mother. Prompting us to ask, what happened to that little innocent child?
Watch Danielle’s body language in this clip as Dr. Phil tries to uncover the source of her pain and anger. She is obviously trying to hold back tears. However, you can almost see a smile and a light in her eyes when Dr. Phil starts to speak about her in a positive way.
Danielle seems like a completely different person in the next video clip of her stay at Turn-About Ranch. Danielle attended the Ranch for four months following her first appearance on Dr.Phil.
Our response to Danielle should be one of love and prayer. It should not be condemning messages on her videos or Facebook posts telling her how awful her behavior is. And neither should it be to joke at her expense. If her social media accounts are any indicator, it seems that since her return from the Turn-About Ranch, Danielle continues to exhibit behavior that reveals just how deeply she has been hurt. We can assume that she lives in a world of fear and anxiety, wanting desperately to be accepted, loved, and valued.
We know that only God can provide that for her through His great love and mercy.
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.”
– St. John Paul II
We need to care because Danielle is just one example of a hurting person in our society. She is not alone in the pain she feels. There are so many, too many, young people who feel and act in the same way Danielle she does. As Catholics, we are called to look for those who need the love of God and to be Christ to them. We need to go out of our way to serve those living in this type of darkness, pain, and sorrow.
The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. – Catechism of the Catholic Church 1932-1933
Danielle’s story reminds us that although we see a person’s actions, we do not know what is going on inside their hearts and what hardships they are facing. Instead of being quick to judge or swear off a rebellious teen, let’s try to break through the walls of their heart with unconditional love. Find ways to listen to them and invite them to share their story with you. These young people need examples of caring adults whom they can rely on to support them unconditionally. Are you open to the voice of God that may be calling you to be a mentor and invest in the life of a teen?
Though we may not personally know Danielle, we can pray for her and the millions of other teens struggling with these feelings of abandonment. From now on, when you see Danielle’s meme or hear someone say, “Cash Me Ousside Howbow Dat,” offer a prayer for all of those young people who are acting out of hurt and fear. Pray that they may find the peace of Christ and be healed.
I invite you to pray this beautiful prayer written by the Women’s Apostolate to Youth.
Immaculate Mary, Mother of Incarnate Love, in choosing the Lord’s little ones to be your messengers to the world, you remind us that the Father’s Kingdom belongs to them and that He is zealous for their welfare.
True to the Father’s good and gracious will for all His children, we plead with you now for the future of our youth. Confused by lies, besieged with temptation and betrayed by the Seducer, our children are deceived and defenseless, dangerously adrift in a sea of sin.
Place now your foot, Holy Virgin, upon the neck of the Deceiver and plead their cause before the Throne of Grace. May the power of your prayers put evil to rout and instill in the souls of our young a longing for purity of heart, mind, and life.
We ask this for the sake and in the name of your adorable Son who, still in his youth, died for our sins.
If you need help for a teen in your life or feel called to volunteer your time, use Catholic Charities as a starting place. There are many programs in place to offer support and guidance.
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