Nov 14, 2019

Bullying and harassment in the workplace is impacting a lot of people across the country, significantly affecting their personal lives on a regular basis. This is not something that should be ignored. Bullying and harassment in the workplace must be prevented.

Most employees expect a certain minimum level of professionalism in all interpersonal communications at the workplace. They typically work hard with dedication and they expect to be treated fairly. If a worker fails to perform at the expected level on a continuous basis, then he or she can be asked to leave the company. That option is always available to the employer. But there is no reason whatsoever to treat that person or anyone else with disrespect. In other words, it is appropriate for all employees to expect a bully-free environment.

That is the main point I try to make whenever I make a presentation based on my book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer”. Consistent bullying and harassment can have significant negative impact on the employees, in terms of their emotional wellbeing. No employees deserve that. It is heartening to know that most Human Resource departments across the country seem to understand that it is important to maintain a positive workplace environment. It does take some training and effort, but treating all employees with respect typically always works out to be positive for the organization.

 

Nov 07, 2019

Background checks can provide a lot of information about a person and can be a useful tool when it comes to prevention of child sexual abuse. It is important to do a background check before a person is allowed to have a lot of unsupervised interactions with a minor.

Some people believe that it is disrespectful to do a background check on someone. I believe most people will understand especially if children are involved. In fact, if someone objects to it, then that might be a red flag that it is probably not a good idea for the children to spend any significant amount of time with this person.

All mentor organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or Kinship Minneapolis do background checks plus other detailed evaluations before accepting someone as a mentor. All mentors do understand this well and accept the process. I have been a mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and I fully support their evaluation process.

In my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”, I have suggested that single parents with young children should do a background check before starting to date a new person. This should never be an issue if the person has nothing to hide. Safety of the children must come first and it is important to maintain a preventive mindset.

 

Oct 31, 2019

A strong emotional health and a positive self-image are key ingredients for overall success in life. If a child is concerned about having to deal with bullying on a regular basis, it is difficult for the child to focus on the positive aspects of school and social life. Bullying must be prevented.

 

For academic success of all students it is critical to maintain a safe and nurturing environment for all children. When we talk about a safe environment for children we must include discussions about creating and maintaining an atmosphere in schools where ALL children can feel free to be themselves and learn most effectively at their own pace. If a child has to face negative environment on a regular basis, it can lead to long lasting negative impact far beyond the school years. There should be a constant focus on developing and maintaining a school culture that has three key objectives – acceptance of differences in people around you, being kind and respectful to others as opposed to negative behavior such as bullying, and focusing on self-acceptance so you can achieve success in life.

 

I try to make these points through some of my presentations based on my book titled “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder”. The most unique aspect of this book is the focus on a definitive connection between bullying and its long-term psychological impact. This is an extremely serious issue that often goes unnoticed and undetected during school years. Prolonged bullying can trigger devastating long-lasting mental illness and that impact can torment a victim long after the school years are over. It is important to develop and maintain a school culture where everyone learns to respect others because mistreatment can cause serious life-long impact.

 

Oct 24, 2019

Every organization must assign someone as the officer responsible for maintaining a bully-free environment. For larger companies it is typically the responsibility of the Human Resources department. In smaller companies, it can be the CEO/Owner or someone assigned by him/her.

However, the person responsible must have a thorough understanding of how bullying and harassment can impact the employees. He or she must also understand that there can be serious consequences for the organization if incidents of bullying and harassment are not addressed adequately. That is why it is important for the responsible person to go through some appropriate training on this issue so he or she can be successful in performing this task. I have experience with a Human Resources Director who was not very proficient in handling issues of this nature.

The main point is that the person must be able to put in appropriate processes and procedures to be able to handle any complaints from employees and then follow through rigorously in a timely manner. It is important for employees to develop a trust that any complaints will be taken seriously and appropriate investigations will be conducted according to the established processes. It is not good for the companies if the employees feel that no one cares about these issues and if they believe that they will face some form of retaliation if they made a complaint.

Oct 17, 2019

Child sexual abuse is a horrible crime that must be stopped and must be prevented. The responsibility for prevention falls squarely upon all the adults around the children. We all are responsible and must work hard and stay focused on prevention.

First of all, there is still a hesitation to talk about it openly. I have been to some school officials’ conferences where the organizers thought that it would be a good idea to speak about this topic. However, it turned out that very few of the school officials were interested in attending the session, apparently because some of them felt that it was too serious a topic, while some others apparently felt that they really did not need to know much about it. Either way, it demonstrates an unwillingness to get involved in this effort. However, I certainly appreciated the efforts by the organizers to include this topic.

I must however admit that there were also many other school officials’ conferences where the attendance was excellent, and in one case, it was even overflowing. So clearly, there are people who take this very seriously and want to remain well informed. But it is important for us to continue this effort so we can get more and more adults to take this topic seriously.

Once people are well informed, they will become more comfortable in keeping an eye open for possible red flags and in promoting prevention.

 

Oct 10, 2019

When I speak to children about how bullying triggered obsessive compulsive disorder for me, impacting my life significantly, most of them do understand the possible terrifying impact of bullying, and many change their behaviors appropriately. I have received messages from them.

I believe that they understand very clearly that:

  • If you treat someone poorly, the impact on that person can be very serious
  • It’s okay to be different
  • If someone is bullied in school, that person can suffer for many years even after school years are over

I have also noticed that:

  • Students are able to connect with me easily because I have gone through this myself – I am not a parent or an anti-bullying expert – I speak from my heart about this issue
  • Students who are being bullied see a strong example of how one can survive in spite of having to go through this difficult phase
  • Everyone loves my discussion of the encounter I had in my adult years with a past bully because it provides a perspective on why bullies do what they do
  • Students who do the bullying connect with me since they see that I can understand what they might be going through, because of the discussion on my encounter with a past bully. Many of these bullies do not realize how badly their actions can impact the victims. Once they understand the possible impact, most of them are able to stop their negative behavior.

Oct 03, 2019

It is critical for all organizations to make sure that their employees feel comfortable in their work environment. It is a responsibility that must be taken seriously by all companies. Bullying and/or harassment of employees must not be tolerated.

It starts with the number 1 person in the organization, i.e., the CEO or the owner, whatever the case may be. It is most important for this person to set the tone for the organization – he or she needs to establish right from the beginning that bullying and/or harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated. Once that priority is in place, it is then up to the next level management to act accordingly.

One of the ways to effectively create and maintain a bully-free organization is to encourage all employees to bring forward any bullying or harassment issues without any worries of negative consequences. And the next step is to follow through on the complaints and talk with the appropriate people involved with the complaint and discuss reasonable action plans. Most employees will feel positive about the fact that their complaints were being taken seriously.

It does take some managerial time and energy to adequately follow through on these matters, but it is an organizational responsibility and needs to be taken seriously. No employees deserve to be bullied or harassed. If they are not performing as required, then they can receive an appropriate performance evaluation and follow-up actions as needed, but that is different from bullying and harassment.

 

Sep 27, 2019

In all my presentations on the topic of “prevention of child sexual abuse” I try to make the point that “prevention” means doing something before it happens, not after. And preventing something might mean taking those extra precautionary steps that might seem unnecessary.

Clearly the responsibility of prevention falls on the adults around the children, such as parents and family members, caregivers, close and distant relatives, and family friends. Responsibility also falls on the school officials such as teachers, administrators, school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, etc because the children are in school for a significant number of hours each day. All of these adults should go through appropriate training so they are able to detect any red flags.

It’s also important for other adults, who deal with children in the community, to be appropriately trained. This set of adults might include coaches, mentors, boys and girls club leaders, camp leaders, or any other youth organization and/or activities leaders. This is why well known organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters do an extensive background evaluation of prospective mentors before they are allowed to act as mentors for young children.

Any red flags detected by any of the adults around the children, should then be passed on to organizations such as the Child Protective Services.

 

Sep 19, 2019

Many people still do not seem to understand that impact of bullying at a young age can torment the victim for the rest of his or her life. That is why it is important to continue the effort to maintain focus on this issue.

It is most important for parents, caregivers, and all school staff to understand that all children must be provided with a safe and non-threatening environment. No child should have to face any kind of mistreatment from bullies. Children depend on adults to take care of them – it is the responsibility of the adults to make sure that bullying is not permitted in any form.

Especially the schools must put this as their highest priority. It does not matter how good a teacher is or how important a specific class is, children are not able to pay attention if there is always a fear of being bullied. If schools truly believe in making sure that every child gets a quality education, then it must pay attention to creating and maintaining a safe and positive culture where everyone is respected.

Schools have a responsibility to make sure that every student has the opportunity to learn in a non-threatening environment. When a child faces bullying on a regular basis, then it not only impacts his or her education, but even more importantly it can have a serious mental health impact for many years to come. Schools must take responsibility to make sure that this kind of mistreatment is not permitted.

 

Sep 12, 2019

I understand that for some victims of workplace bullying it might seem difficult to do anything about it. But not doing anything at all can become extremely stressful and can have significant impact on personal lives.

I am aware that there are people who are putting up with a lot of bullying and harassment at their workplace but are not willing to do anything about it because they believe that if they take any actions they would likely lose their jobs and they wouldn’t know where to go to find another job. I can understand that as a valid concern. However, I do believe that almost everyone can take the simple step of bringing it up to management simply as an issue that the employee would like to discuss because this is affecting the employee’s personal life. The idea would be to bring it up in a positive manner in a constructive approach. There are times when the employer might actually try to do something about this since it was brought up not as a complaint but more as a constructive request.

If nothing comes out of this, then after a few weeks or months, the employee can go back to the employer again and make it a bit stronger than the first time around. The most important thing is to maintain documentation of the efforts the employee makes to demonstrate that the employee was trying his or her best to resolve this in a peaceful manner. Escalating the matter in a step-by-step approach is one of the best ways to handle the situation (and maintaining documentation along the way).

In a case like this, if the employee does get terminated, he or she will have documentation to show that sincere efforts were made by the employee to resolve this in a positive and constructive manner. This can then be taken to the appropriate government department (such as Department of Human Rights) for resolution. It will also be useful in case it does become a lawsuit.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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