Jul 18, 2019

Many school officials around the country still seem to believe that bullying during school years does not have any lasting impact on the victims. They need to understand that it is possible that some victims may be lucky and not have any long term impacts, but many others do and that is why it is critical to prevent bullying.

I think it’s all a matter of whether you want to do something about it or not. School officials who do not want to do something about it will always point to the fact that there are many children who face bullying during school years but are able to move on without any significant impact. But this is a situation when you can’t just look at the children who were able to withstand bullying without having any long-term impact and not look at the ones who have had to deal with significant long-term impact because of bullying.

I believe all school officials must focus on the fact that even one child ending up having to deal with long-term issues is one too many. Every child counts and it is important that every child deserves a bully-free safe school environment. This needs to be a top priority for all school officials. They need to form a close partnership with parents to make sure that every child finds it safe to come to school every day without having to worry about which bully they might be facing. There are children around the country who do not want to go to school to avoid being bullied – this simply cannot be allowed to go on.

 

Jul 11, 2019

Bullying and harassment happens in a workplace when the upper management does not want to accept the fact that maintaining a positive work environment is one of their responsibilities. Because I believe that if managers/supervisors understand clearly that bullying will not be tolerated, then the environment will be safe for everyone.

It is very important that the owner and/or the CEO sends a very clear message to the rest of the company that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated. Along with that it is also necessary to put together a set of processes and procedures so that any reported incidents of bullying and harassment can be investigated properly. It is also necessary to put together appropriate training programs for all supervisors and managers as well as for all employees to make sure everyone is aware of what is expected in terms of maintaining a positive professional environment.

In larger companies the task of maintaining a positive professional environment is often the responsibility of the Human Resources Department. Most HR personnel these days are well aware for these issues and are typically well qualified to set up processes and procedures and training for handling these matters. However, many small companies do not have HR departments. In those cases the owner may have to get involved with this matter and set up some minimal processes and procedures to handle any reported incidents. The bottom line is that it needs to come down from the top as one of the key priorities for the organization.

 

Jul 05. 2019

Regarding prevention of child sexual abuse, one of the most important things that caregivers must remember is that the abuser can be anyone who has anything to do with the children, and they can even be family members, close relatives or friends.

This is probably one of the most difficult things for parents and caregivers to keep in mind. Parents typically trust people like other family members, close relatives and friends and tend to believe that these people will never harm any of the children. In addition children too automatically trust these people since they know that they are trusted by their parents and caregivers. But there are many instances where some of these people unfortunately end up abusing the children. And one of the reasons is that these folks do not need to work very hard to develop trusting relationships with the children.

Children also develop a trusting relationships with people like coaches, tutors, youth activities leaders, etc. Often these are people who are typically trusted by the parents and that makes it easier for the children to trust them as well. The important thing to remember for the parents and the caregivers is that the children are not always able to keep an eye out for red flags. That is why, even with trusted adults, it is important for parents and caregivers to keep an eye out for red flags.

 

Jun 27, 2019

All children must learn that bullying is nothing but emotional and/or physical abuse of another individual. And no such abuse can be allowed in a civilized society. All adults must support this view and educate their children accordingly. Children will learn if the adults are serious about it.

Most children do not understand that bullying can cause significant long-term impact for the victims. The bullies go on continuing their mistreatment of other children thinking only of the fun they derive from these undesirable acts. But if they truly understood that their actions can cause long-term negative impact for the victims, it is highly likely that they will stop the bullying.

Following several of my presentations around the country I have received emails from students who have stated that bullying had practically stopped after my presentation at their schools. The following are some of the things children take away from my presentations:

  • If you treat someone poorly, the impact on that person can be very serious
  • If someone is bullied in school, that person can suffer for many years even after school years are over
  • Students are able to connect with me easily because I have gone through this myself – I speak from my heart about the impact it had on my life
  • 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

The bottom line is that if adults can have serious discussions with children about the significant long term impact of bullying, most children will understand and act accordingly.

Jun 20, 2019

Some people believe that once you are an adult you should be able to handle just about anything in the workplace. Well, I do not agree with that. Everyone has the right to expect a bully-free work environment. Workplace bullying affects many employees negatively and it must be stopped.

There is simply no place for bullying and harassment in a workplace. Shouting, yelling or using scare tactics is not the way for a supervisor or a manager to communicate with the employees. Supervisors/managers must make it very clear to employees about what their job duties are, and provide appropriate training for them to be able to perform those tasks. In addition, they should also make the employees aware that there are consequences for inadequate performance. But none of this need to be done via any kind of verbally abusive and/or harassing manner.

Every employee has a right to be treated fairly and respectfully. Some employees are able to take abusive managerial behavior in their stride and ignore it and move on. But for many employees, that is just not possible. It is very difficult for them to deal with this kind of negative behavior on a regular basis and it becomes a source of pain and frustration, which can then turn into depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders. This can and must be avoided by making sure that a bully-free environment is maintained.

 

Jun 13, 2019

I am scheduled to present at the OAESA (Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators) Professional Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday June 13, 2019. I will be speaking on the topic of “Impact of School Culture on Students’ Mental Health” which will be based on my first book.

I am excited about this presentation because I will be speaking to a group of school administrators such as principals and assistant principals who are typically responsible for establishing the culture in a school. In my book titled “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder” I describe how a negative school culture contributed to a devastating mental illness that I had to deal with for many years.

When I was going through elementary and middle schools, most principals and vice principals did not do a lot to prevent bullying that I had to put up with. Many of them believed that children should be allowed to deal with this by themselves. In my view it is wrong to expect children to take care of this by themselves. School officials need to accept this responsibility to maintain a positive environment for all children.

There were also some principals and vice principals who believed that “boys will be boys” and things like bullying are ok. Then there were others who promised to do something about this, but did not do anything to back up their promises. I hope that I can deliver the message that none of these approaches are appropriate. All school administrators must take the responsibility seriously and work hard to maintain a positive bully-free environment.

 

Jun 06, 2019

It is important to remember that prevention of child sexual abuse is an ongoing effort until the children become adults and are able to take care of themselves. Adults around children, especially family members, caregivers and friends, have a key role.

Whenever I speak about prevention of child sexual abuse based on my second book, I try to emphasize on the following:

  • We must always try to get involved and prevent possible sexual abuse, even if it seems personally difficult and inconvenient to do so (what every ordinary citizen can and should do to protect vulnerable children in the community)
  • Always keep an eye open for troubling behavior by young children
  • Risks unique to single mothers
  • What kinds of things can contribute to child sexual abuse
  • Background checks on individuals who might be in close contact with the children, and how to do background checks
  • What different facilities are available to public for informational purposes
  • Taking the difficult step of informing parents (and other biological relatives) of critical information at the risk of losing friendships
  • What can a person do when he/she is not a close biological relative, but detects a situation where children are in possible danger
  • How can one get other adults involved who might be able to help in these situations? Working in a team involving whoever might be able to help can be very useful
  • What options do you have when you suspect that some sentencing guidelines are being violated
  • What is the role of Child Protection Services and how can they help

May 30, 2019

I am excited about a presentation I am scheduled to make in Palo Alto, CA, about long-term psychological impact of bullying. I will be speaking on June 7 to a group of summer camp staff at the City of Palo Alto. It is encouraging to note that the city is focusing on this issue.

A lot of bullying is still going on around the country and a lot of victims are still suffering. And there are many individuals around who still believe that this is not a big issue. That is why it’s good to see some organizers are taking this matter seriously.

I do believe that there is a significant amount of effort being put in these days by many adults around the country to try to prevent bullying. This training organized by the city of Palo Alto is another excellent example. I am hoping that I will be able to deliver the message that bullying can have significant long-term psychological impact.

I also like the fact that the city of Palo Alto is putting this training together because they must believe that bullying could be an issue with kids coming in for the summer camps. They are recognizing that bullying does not happen just in schools, it can also happen in other situations like summer camps. They want to make sure that every child attending the camps should be allowed to enjoy the summer camp experience instead of wanting to leave the camp because of being bullied. I am impressed with this effort by the city of Palo Alto and hope that others will follow.

 

 

May 23, 2019

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can be quite harmful to the companies as well. That is why many Human Resources Departments across the country are making sure to establish appropriate processes and procedures to minimize incidents of maltreatment of employees.

These companies recognize the importance of developing and maintaining a professional environment that does not tolerate bullying and/or harassment. They also realize that appropriate training needs to be provided to supervisors and managers so they are able to perform their duties without relying on bullying or harassment of employees. If the company places a priority on this, then the HR Department can implement appropriate processes and procedures to make sure a professional bully-free environment is maintained.

There is also another reason why many companies direct their HR Departments to focus on this. That has to do with avoiding unnecessary lawsuits. If some employees are being bullied and harassed, and if some of them decide to maintain records as to how they had requested the company to do something about this and nothing had been done, then some of these employees might decide to bring a lawsuit. This can be financially damaging for the company.

But looking at this positively, why wouldn’t a company want all their employees to be happy at their workplace and enjoy a high level of job satisfaction. Happy employees typically perform better which in turn helps the companies achieve or exceed their goals.

 

May 16, 2019

Adults who take care of children must understand that prevention of child sexual abuse is an on-going activity – it does not end with taking care of one specific issue or another. One needs to have the mindset of keeping an eye open for red flags at all times.

It is not like inoculation or vaccination to prevent a medical illness – you take a shot and you are protected for a number of years. Unfortunately, prevention of child sexual abuse does not work that way. It is an on-going activity until the children are able to take care of themselves, which may not happen until they are adults.

Children come in contact with many adults during their developing years. One of the most important things a caregiver can do is to try and maintain a good communication pattern with the children. The more they talk, the greater is the possibility that they will talk about something that could be a red flag. And if a red flag is detected, then it is critical to follow through to make sure there are no risks to the children. Even if it seems to the caregiver that the children might be making things up, it is best to follow through and make sure. When it comes to prevention of child sexual abuse, we simply cannot leave any stones unturned.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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