May 17, 2018

I totally understand that “prevention of child sexual abuse” is much easier said than done. There is no preventive medication or inoculation that will guarantee that a child will for sure not be abused. That is what makes this a very difficult thing to do, but as adults, who are responsible for the kids around us, we must do everything we possibly can to keep them protected since even one episode of sexual abuse can scar the child for the rest of his or her life.

We cannot keep them locked up to avoid contact with people in general – that will be unhealthy in other ways. But we can certainly try our best to make sure that we can fully trust the people they will be in contact with. Even with that, prevention is not guaranteed, but there is a good chance that the probability of abuse is reduced significantly.

That is the key message in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”. The main point I try to make is that we must not ignore red flags that are clearly visible. And in addition, we should take all possible precautions to make sure the children are spending time with trusted individuals, including doing background checks.

 

May 10, 2018

One of the key aspects of OCD is that the victims often suffer for years by themselves because of the bizarre nature of the disease. They don’t feel comfortable sharing this with others because they are concerned about what others would think. In my case, I suffered for 5 years by myself before sharing this with my parents. I later came to know that there are many patients who had gone on for many more years before opening up about the disease. That is why I wanted to make sure that my book makes it clear to OCD sufferers that it is okay to share this with others so appropriate treatment can begin. That is why I like the following comments made by some of the psychologists who reviewed my book:

“An uncensored description of what it is actually like to live with shocking, unwanted obsessions”.

“The author is genuine in his description of his OCD symptoms and his successes and challenges along the way. While the descriptions of the OCD thoughts are graphic, they are not uncommon and many people will be able to relate to this book”.

“Descending into the hell of OCD — nightmarish intrusive thoughts and agonizing, exhausting behaviors he felt he had to perform to prevent harm to people he loved”.

“It shows the isolation that so many people with OCD have experienced, hiding their secret thoughts and rituals for years from their involved and caring parents, suffering needlessly, thinking they must surely be crazy and bad beyond redemption, until finally finding the right diagnosis and the right treatment”.

May 04, 2018

My presentations on workplace bullying provide key information, salient advice, and guidance on what workplace bullying is, how it can impact both the employees and employers, how it happens, what to do about it, and how to prevent it.

This presentation is appropriate for all attendees who are currently in the workforce as well as for those who are preparing to enter the workforce. College students entering the workforce must understand that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that the workplace is a truly positive and rewarding environment.

When I present on this topic, I typically focus on the following learning objectives:

  • What kinds of things fall under the category of bullying and harassment?
  • What to do if one is having to deal with bullying in the workplace?
  • What to do if one has watched someone being bullied at the workplace?
  • What are some of the typical responsibilities of a union, if the employee belongs to a union?
  • What is whistle-blowing and what are the issues associated with it?
  • What kinds of vehicles are available for defending against bullying in the workplace?
  • What are some of the things to look for in case there is an unjust termination?
  • What can managers/supervisors/employers do to maintain a bullying-free work environment?

Apr 26, 2018

Here is an excerpt from my book “Father Figure – My Mission to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse”, regarding my experience with law enforcement in this specific true account story:

 

“Perhaps the greatest mystery remaining from Father Figure, and the leading cause of our setbacks in this story, is the confusing reactions that we received from the local police. Though this appeared to finally change after I wrote to the judge, I can never forget how helpless I felt when we were apparently let down by the cops.

 

To this day, I remain utterly confused over what actually happened behind the scenes with law enforcement. From the outside looking in, it seemed as though they were plagued with discrepancies over how they should deal with Charlie (the convicted sex offender in the story). Given the reaction from CPS (Child Protective Services), and the eventual consensus by the local police, it seems as though Charlie should not have been allowed anywhere near minor girls.

 

To law enforcement officers reading this, I request that you please use this most unique story as a case study for similar situations in the future and encourage your units to support more training in handling cases of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse). In a similar predicament concerning a sex offender, I certainly hope that law enforcement will err on the side of caution and choose to protect the kids. I also hope that a citizen will not feel threatened by law enforcement when he/she is reporting a good faith concern. Regardless of what rules or regulations were in place at the time, there was no justification that we could see for the local police to threaten an ordinary citizen like they did. We believe that we had approached law enforcement with a very good faith concern, and nothing that we did had warranted such an aggressive response. In general we felt there was a lack of swift and appropriate response to the reported threat.

 

To all officers reading this story, please continue to restore my faith. Please use this story to do your best to look out for those children at risk”.

Apr 20, 2018

As I go around the country talking about the long term impact of bullying, I clearly notice that there are many who still do not understand that bullying can have significant long term impact on the victims. Although many schools have now placed a lot of emphasis on the “stop bullying” movement, the necessary focus on ‘prevention’ is still lacking.

I believe it is really important to focus on understanding why bullying happens – why do bullies do what they do. In my own encounter in adult years with my worst bully from the past I came to understand that bullies are often misguided children who are struggling with issues of their own and do not know how to manage them. Instead they act out against other innocent children.

School staff and parents really need to understand this point. If a child’s emotional needs are satisfied, he or she does not have any reasons to be aggressive towards other children. Children deserve to be liked and admired for who they are – and if that does not happen, then they often end up trying something that they believe would make them popular (i.e., liked and admired by others). That is often what happens to turn some children into bullies.

It is possible that we may never be able to eliminate bullying altogether, but I believe that we would certainly go a long way, if we can focus on understanding why some children act out as bullies.

 

Apr 13, 2018

Some people seem to believe that there is no such thing as bullying in the workplace. They believe that if you want to work for someone else, you will simply have to put up with whatever the work environment may turn out to be. If you don’t like it, then simply be a “grown up” and leave and go get another job.

Well, some people are able to do that and it might even work out for them. But for many employees it is not that easy to simply quit and find another job. Most people try to find a job that is somewhat interesting to them. Why shouldn’t they have the right to do their work in a respectful environment? That is not a lot to ask.

It is often the case that only a very few people in an organization are the ones who cause the negativity in the work environment that might impact a lot of dedicated employees. So why not focus on the ones causing the problem rather than letting the good employees go?

In the workplace I describe in my book, there was only one supervisor who was responsible for creating the negativity. It impacted many employees. I decided to fight back, but there were many others who were experiencing the bullying but decided to put up with it because they enjoyed the work. It would have been a much better workplace if the organization had decided to train the supervisor properly and provide her the guidance she needed to become a better supervisor.

 

Apr 06, 2018

Next week I will be speaking at the Montana School Counselors Association conference in Helena, Montana, on April 12, 2018. The topic of my presentation will be “Prevention of child sexual abuse – the ethical challenges”. This of course is based on my second book titled “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”.

I am looking forward to this opportunity because it allows me to discuss this topic with another group of school counselors. Some people believe that school counselors do not need to know about this topic since their primary job is to assist students with academic direction and to prepare them for college and career options.

However, the fact is that the school counselors often have a lot of contact with children and most children end up developing a trusting relationship with their counselors. And because of that, children can share things with their counselors that they may not discuss with anyone else. In my book I have described a true account story where a young child shared something with her school counselor that eventually led to the arrest of the abuser.

In my presentation I talk about the challenges in “prevention” of child sexual abuse and I discuss the roles and responsibilities of the various groups and systems in our communities. I think it is very important for school counselors to understand these issues because one never knows when there might be an opportunity to prevent a potentially risky situation for a child. And as we all know, even one incident of sexual abuse can scar a child for the rest of his or her life.

 

Mar 29, 2018

Whenever I speak to school staff (and specifically school administrators) I make the point that a positive school culture with appropriate attention to mental health issues is essential for overall development of students. My presentation focuses 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. It is critical for school administrators to learn about the possible long term mental health issues and to provide the needed leadership to develop and maintain a positive school culture that provides a safe environment for all children.

The main goal of my presentation is to raise the awareness among school administrators that bullying can have severe long-lasting mental health impact. School administration and staff often believe that once a student (who was a victim of bullying while in school) graduates, there is no impact any more. The purpose of this workshop is to emphasize the fact that for millions of victims of school bullying, that is not the case – in fact, many of them suffer for years because of mental health issues triggered by bullying. It is very likely that if these students had received appropriate guidance and assistance during school years the mental health impact would not have been as severe.

Mar 22, 2018

In my book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer” I discuss many different work-related issues that I was not aware of before I got into this battle with the organization. One of these issues has to do with unemployment benefits.

Like most people, I was of the understanding that if you get terminated for whatever reasons, you will always be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for a while, and that is very helpful until you secure another employment. However, I was not aware of the fact that the organization that just terminated you, can also block your unemployment benefits. Apparently the organization can try to make a case that there has been employment misconduct and therefore the person should not receive any unemployment benefits.

I also did not know that you could fight this position taken by the organization and end up in an unemployment hearing in front of a judge (typically over the phone) to prove that there was no employment misconduct.

I ended up having to hire a lawyer to help me through this process. I had to put up with a long hearing, with four levels of management on the other side – but at the end I was able to win that battle. We were able to prove that there was no evidence of employment misconduct. I was fortunate to have been able to retain a lawyer for this purpose. Otherwise I don’t think I would have succeeded against four levels of managerial personnel.

 

Mar 15, 2018

Here is an excerpt from my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse” about involvement from family members:

 

After reading this book, you can see how the girls’ family played a key role in ensuring their personal safety. As we learned in Father Figure, biological family members are often the only ones with the legal power to take action on behalf of vulnerable children.

To all people reading this, please keep this story in mind if someone ever advises you that children related to you are in a potentially unsafe situation, and if you do find yourself in such a predicament, I ask that you please act quickly and do not delay becoming involved. In Father Figure, you read how Joan and I had to approach Dave’s family multiple times in order for them to take action on behalf of Lisa and Laura. While I fully commend Dave and his family now for what they have accomplished, I was concerned with the length of time it took for them to get moving at first.

While all legal process is time consuming, there were instances where I wish the family could have acted quicker. While I’m relieved to say in this case that it’s now water under the bridge, families do need to take swift action with the welfare of children at stake, whether the possible threat is coming from outside of or within the family. It is possible that family members might face some of the inconsistent or unsatisfactory responses that Joan and I had to deal with, but it is also true that the ‘family’ connection can give them a better chance at succeeding as compared to ordinary citizens in a situation like this when the possible threat is not coming from an existing family member. It can however be more difficult for family members to report and to get appropriate responses if the threat is from within the family”.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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