Jan 18, 2019

I continue to believe that it is important for victims of workplace bullying to stand up and fight against it. Most organizations would at least have someone in management who would be willing to listen to you and do something about it. If not, then there are government organizations that one can go to for assistance in these matters.

Most employees within the Human Resource departments across the country are now well trained in dealing with the issues of bullying and harassment in the workplace. They know that it can be a significant issue for the company if reports of bullying and harassment are not handled properly. Most HR personnel are now well trained in establishing processes and procedures to handle complaints of this nature. In fact I have heard about cases where specific employees were told that they might be fired if their behavior did not change.

However, in smaller companies the situation can be very different. First of all, many small companies cannot afford to have an HR department. And when they do have one, it is not always managed by a trained HR professional. In the story in my book titled “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer”, the organization I had my problems with had an HR department, but I don’t believe the director had a lot of experience in these matters. I needed to work with my employee union and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to get some resolution.

 

Jan 11, 2018

When it comes to prevention of child sexual abuse, we have to realize that it is totally up to the adults to protect the children. Children are innocent and cannot be expected to take care of themselves in these complex situations. That is why it is of utmost importance for caregivers to keep a constant eye open for possible red flags.

Children are trusting individuals – they have no reason not to trust someone unless that person has been mean and/or insensitive to them. If a person is nice and sensitive to a child, he/she will likely have no problem in developing a trusting relationship with a child. Most predators know this well and are typically very good at developing trusting relationships with unsuspecting children. It is up to the adults to keep a close eye on all the people coming in close contact with the children to make sure the children are not at risk.

That is one of main points I try to make in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”. For example, a single mother starting to date a new person, should not introduce the person immediately to her children. She should take adequate amount of time to get to know the person well before slowly introducing her children to him. She should continue to keep an eye out to make sure the children are safe when they are in close contact with this person. Over time it will be clear if that person is trustworthy or not. You can of course never be 100% sure, but giving some time to get to know the person well can often minimizes the risk significantly.

 

Jan 04, 2019

As the New Year rolls in, we need to make a firm resolution to continue our efforts to prevent bullying in our schools across the country. There are still many schools out there where bullying continues to be a problem. We simply cannot afford to allow the devastating long term impact it can have on victims.

If you want to stop something you would need to place a high priority on it and put in dedicated efforts in achieving success. Many schools do identify bullying prevention as one of their key objectives, but they don’t really place a high enough priority on this issue. Many schools have programs in place, but they don’t often follow up on identified issues and therefore bullying still continues.

Children become aware very quickly if the school staff is serious about something. If the school staff truly wanted to stop bullying in their schools, I believe most students will get the message and adjust their behaviors accordingly. I believe that school staff are still not taking full responsibility in trying to eradicate bullying. And I think that is because of the fact that many school staff members do not fully understand the possible long term negative impact on victims of bullying. That is the reason why school staff need to be trained properly to be able to understand what bullying can do to victims over the rest of their lives.

 

Dec 28, 2018

Most of the time bullying and harassment in the workplace takes place simply because the manager/supervisor is not well trained in being able to handle the various issues that typically come up when there are a number of employees involved. Some companies do recognize this need and provide the necessary training to the managers and supervisors. However, there are many businesses where no such training is provided.

If you need people to get your work done, then you must know how to deal with people. A manager’s job is to make sure that an employee puts in the best effort possible to get his or her work done in the most satisfactory manner. But at the same time, it is also important for the manager/supervisor to make sure that the employees are happy in doing their work. If employees are unhappy then their work output becomes unsatisfactory and eventually the work environment becomes negative.

One way to keep employees happy and engaged in their work is to make sure their work environment remains positive. That is why it is critical to make sure there is no bullying and/or harassment going on in the workplace. If an employee is having to face bullying and/or harassment either from the supervisor or from another employee, his or her work performance will certainly suffer. Since the goal at a work place is to make sure work performance is the highest possible, it is critical to make sure no bullying or harassment takes place in the workplace.

 

Dec 21, 2018

Parents have a lot of responsibility in protecting children from risky situations. Children often get their clues from their parents. They will typically trust someone who is trusted by the parents. That is all the more reason why parents need to be extra careful in making sure that people coming in contact with the children can truly be trusted.

In the story in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”, I describe a single mother of two young daughters, starting to date a convicted child molester. There is nothing wrong in dating a convicted child molester since he has already done his time, but there really is no need to bring the children in for close contact with the person immediately. Because the mother encourages the children immediately to come close to the new person, the children will typically believe that this man can be trusted fully.

The point I try to make in the book is that it is not a good idea to get the children to connect with the new man at a very early stage. Even if the man is not a convicted child molester, it is important for the single mother to take some time to get to know the person well before introducing him to the children. This is an important precautionary move that is critical for protection of children. Parents should always keep in mind that what they do and how they do it, have a lot of impact of their children.

 

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.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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