Dec 14, 2018

After speaking at various schools around the country I am of the firm opinion that children really understand what I talk about. They really get the point that bullying can have significant negative impact on the victims for many years into the future and can get them derailed from their original tracks. I have received many emails from children following my presentations. We just need to continue to communicate with them.

Many kids get into bullying other kids simply because their own lives are not at a good place. Often they feel like no one values them at their own homes – so they need to show at school that they have some power. It gives them recognition that they crave so badly. Many bystanders watch bullying happening, and that adds to the perception of power for the bully. The bullies feel that everyone notices them and therefore they have a solid standing at school.

But most of these bullies do not really know how bad things can be for the victims in the long run. They do the bullying without thinking about the possible long term impact on the victims. When I present to a group of children, I make the point to describe to them the significant impact it has had on my life, and I also make the point that there are many others like me who are still suffering silently. When they look at me, they see someone who has gone through this himself. It is not just another speaker telling them that bullying is not a good thing. I have received several emails from bullies who have told me that after listening to my presentation they have stopped bullying others. That proves to me that with proper guidance most of these bullies can be turned around.

 

Dec 07, 2018

Company owners and CEOs can do a lot to eradicate bullying and harassment in the workplace. This should be a key mandate given to the Human Resources department. If upper management makes it very clear to everyone that this is one of top priorities for the company, then it can be possible to develop and maintain a bully-free positive work environment.

Most professional HR personnel have training and expertise in this area. If the CEO/Owner of the firm gives a mandate to the HR team about making sure the organization creates and maintains a positive bully-free environment, the professional HR team can typically achieve that goal. They just have to put in appropriate processes and procedures in place so employees are able to openly address any issues that might come up.

If the employees know that if they face any bullying or harassment at work they can approach the HR department and if the HR department follows through with appropriate investigations, most employees will feel good about the company. Maybe the HR department will need to put together some mandatory training for all employees and supervisors so everyone is aware of the company mandate and the associated processes and procedures. But the bottom line is that it all starts with the upper management (i.e., CEO/Owner) making it clear to everyone that bullying/harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated and asks the HR department to make sure the processes are implemented appropriately.

Nov 30, 2018

Whenever I speak at conferences about prevention of child sexual abuse, I try to make the point that school staff should know about the associated issues because most school staff are in regular contact with children, and children can at times express something to school staff that could be a red flag. It is very important for school staff to be aware of the possible issues so they can act appropriately.

For many victims of child sexual abuse, the perpetrator is often someone within the family or someone very close to the family. That makes it extremely difficult for the child to tell someone within the family about the abuse or about the general threatening behavior of the perpetrator. They often end up talking to some trustworthy person outside the family about this issue. And in many cases it is a school staff (school social worker, school counselor, school psychologist or even a teacher) who appears to be the most trustworthy person that the child can talk to.

This is why it is important for all school staff to have a clear understanding of the issues associated with prevention of child sexual abuse. Many of our systems are doing great work all around the year, but they also face many challenges when it comes to ‘preventive’ measures. If the school staff is aware of the various challenges our systems face and how many families fail to detect the red flags, they will be able to take appropriate steps if they find a child in a possibly risky situation.

 

Nov 23, 2018

Parents have a key role in making sure that their children are not acting out as bullies at schools. This requires a lot of coordination between school staff and the community of parents. Schools that have a stronger connection with the parents are able to do a better job of maintaining a safe and positive environment for all children.

Parents can be helpful in a number of ways. First of all, it is important for parents to make sure their child does not feel bullied at home. When I had my encounter (in adult years) with my worst bully from school days, one of the things he had said was that he felt bullied at home, by parents and by siblings. Children who feel bullied at home can often turn into bullies at school. As I travel around the country for my speeches, I have now come to know many individuals who had turned themselves into bullies at schools simply because they had felt bullied at home.

Secondly, parents should try to make sure the children do not grow up with the “boys will be boys” attitude. They should not take the issue of bullying lightly and directly or indirectly communicate to the children that bullying is not a big issue. In fact they should try their best to make sure their children understand that bullying can have significant psychological impact on victims for many years of their lives and can cause enormous disruption.

And finally, parents should work closely with school staff to make sure a safe environment can be maintained at schools for all children.

 

Nov 16, 2018

Bullying in the workplace will continue as long as employees continue to decide not to fight back. If the workplace bullies never face any opposition then they start to believe that their oppressive ways are working and they continue their irresponsible behavior. That is why I had decided to fight back.

Fighting back is hard and there is always the risk of getting terminated. However, the risk is much less if one takes small steps in the process. One of the first steps is to talk to the Human Resources Department about this. If nothing changes and bullying continues, then go back to the HR department again and put in another complaint. And the most important thing is to document all the steps along the way, including copies of email exchanges and other communications. If there are other witnesses who might have watched the bullying, then one needs to make sure to identify those people in the complaints to HR.

If after 2 or 3 such requests to HR, there is still no change in the bullying behaviors, then it will be important to report this to the state’s Human Rights Department or to the Equal Employment Opportunity department. At any of these steps, if the company decides to terminate the employee, that can make their situation even worse with the government departments. It is true that a company can fire an employee at any time, but if there is a trail of documentation that shows that the company has not been taking any steps in correcting the problem and instead decided to get rid of the employee, the company will have a difficult legal situation on their hands.

 

Nov 09, 2018

On Tuesday November 13, 2018, I will have an opportunity to speak about prevention of child sexual abuse at the Kentucky Counselors Association conference in Louisville, KY. The topic will be “Prevention of child sexual abuse – the ethical challenges”. This presentation will be based on my second book. I am excited to have another opportunity to share my observations and thoughts.

If we really want to become more effective at prevention of child sexual abuse, it is important for all of us to be aware of the issues and the challenges involved. That is the main point I have tried to make in my book “Father Figure – My Mission to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” and that is also the same message I try to deliver through my presentations. If we are well aware of the challenges, then we are better prepared to take actions when an opportunity arises.

The story I describe in my presentations does an excellent job of illustrating the issues and the challenges. I talk about the existing issues with systems such as the child protective services as well as with law enforcement. These are organizations that generally do good work, but they don’t seem to have the flexibility to focus on preventive situations. I also talk about family involvement. It is critical that family members get involved in working with systems and services to keep the children protected.

The bottom line is that everyone, including even ordinary citizens, should try to get involved if there is an opportunity to keep a child safe from a possibly risky situation.

 

Nov 02, 2018

I am excited to have an opportunity to speak at the Kentucky Counselors Association conference in Louisville, KY on Tuesday November 13, 2018, on the topic of “PTSD from bullying triggers obsessive compulsive disorder”. This presentation is based on my first book dealing with long term psychological impact of bullying.

A few years back I had spoken at this same conference. It is a fairly large conference, well attended by professionals from all across the state of Kentucky. I am looking forward to speaking to a larger than usual audience. Although I have been speaking on this topic for almost seven years, there are still a lot of professionals out there who have not been exposed to the fact that the long term mental impact on victims of bullying can be extremely severe. That is why I plan to continue speaking on this topic as long as possible.

I will also have an exhibit table at this conference. That will allow me to display all my books for attendees to see and ask questions about. That is another excellent way to interact with the attendees at a conference. Even people who were not able to attend my presentation, will be able to visit the exhibit table and we can still have a discussion. I have made many long lasting contacts through connections at conferences like this one.

Once we all understand the true sufferings of many victims of bullying we will be able to work hard to eradicate bullying from our schools.

 

Oct 25, 2018

Bullying in the workplace happens for a variety of reasons. But it all comes down to the bully (in most cases the manager or the supervisor) needing to feel in full control of the situation. In my case the supervisor clearly had an unpleasant personal life that she talked about a lot at the workplace. She felt that bullying employees at the workplace gave her the power she did not have in her personal life.

It is true that there are many people out there whose personal lives are not always happy and well settled, but they all do not end up bullying other people at work. However, if the person is someone who needs to have control of all aspects of his or her personal life and feels unable to achieve that control, it is likely that the unfulfilled “need to have control” will spill over on to the workplace.

My supervisor used to talk about her ‘not so positive’ personal life issues in front of all employees on a very regular basis. It was very clear to all employees that she was not happy with things at home and needed to have an outlet. By nature she was not an easy person to communicate with – but I believe her personal issues had made things even worse. I believe that if she was getting help from a therapist for her personal issues and if she had received training at the workplace about how to communicate with the employees, she could have been a decent manager without having to depend on bullying others.

 

 

Oct 18, 2018

 

If one wants to prevent something, then it becomes necessary to take some precautionary measures. It is the same thing when it comes to preventing child sexual abuse. In this case, precautionary measures include keeping an eye open for any possible red flags and following through to make sure children are not at risk of any kind of sexual misconduct.

In the story I wrote about in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”, I talk about a single mother (named Kim in the book), with two young daughters, starting to date a convicted child molester (named Charlie in the book). I absolutely agree that just because Charlie was convicted of a crime, it does not take away his right to start dating again. That is not a problem at all. The question really is whether or not Kim needed to be more careful about introducing her daughters too quickly to Charlie. My suggestion is that someone in Kim’s place should take a bit of time to get to know Charlie better before introducing her daughters to him.

I was a family friend and had decided to do a bit of background research on Charlie. I found a lot of information on him simply from publicly available documents. I uncovered a large number of red flags that I had shown to Kim. The red flags clearly indicated to me that there were risks involved for Kim’s daughters and that she needed to be careful about moving forward.

Prevention means doing something proactively, keeping the children’s safety in mind. I often tell people that keeping your front door open does not mean that there will be a burglary for sure, but locking the door is the right preventive move.

 

 

Oct 11, 2018

I am excited to have an opportunity to speak at the Utah School Counselors Association conference in Ogden, UT, on Friday October 12, 2018, on the topic of “PTSD from bullying triggers obsessive compulsive disorder”. This will be another opportunity to make the point to a group of school counselors that bullying during school years can lead to devastating mental illness for victims.

Many school counselors do understand the possible significant long term impact of bullying. However, I am aware that there are still some school staff members who do not believe that bullying can cause any significant long term damage. They believe that once you are out of school, whatever happened during the school years fade away quickly. Unfortunately that is not the case for many victims of bullying.

Every child has his or her unique personality. There are some children who can ignore the bullying and can move on without allowing it to impact themselves. They are the lucky ones. But there are many others who are not able to ignore it, and consequently, have to live with the long term impact. It’s not their fault that they are not able to ignore the bullying. The responsibility does not fall on them. The responsibility of maintaining a safe school environment falls on all school staff and the parents. It is critical that ALL school staff understand that ALL children deserves a non-threatening school environment.

I look forward to a good presentation with some interesting follow-up discussions.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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