Oct 05, 2018

Many employers do not do anything about preventing bullying and harassment in the workplace because they believe that employees have no rights and that if employees do not like the environment, they will just leave. This is why it is important for employees to learn that there are things one can do to fight back against bullying and harassment.

I wrote the book titled “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer” primarily to make the point that there are things an employee can do to fight back against bullying and harassment in the workplace. Many employers simply do not want to take the trouble involved in trying to prevent bullying in the workplace and maintain a peaceful work environment. They just hope that if someone is not able to survive in their workplace environment, then they would just quit and go somewhere else.

And a lot of employees do end up doing that – they leave a hostile work environment and try to find a more acceptable workplace. This is what many employers count on. But employers do have the responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all employees. Most successful organizations take this responsibility seriously and establish and follow appropriate processes and procedures to handle complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. These employers realize that employees do have rights and that it will not be good for the organization if one or more employees decide to fight back.

 

Sep 27, 2018

I am excited to have an opportunity to speak at the Utah School Counselors Association conference in Ogden, UT, on October 12, 2018. The topic of my presentation will be “Prevention of child sexual abuse – the ethical challenges”. This will be another opportunity to make the point to a group of school counselors that anyone working with children in any capacity must be aware of the risks children face in the community.

I have spoken in front of school counselors on many occasions. Through these presentations and subsequent discussions I have come across several school counselors who felt that they really did not need to sit through a presentation like this. They felt that their jobs do not necessarily require them to be aware of these issues associated with child sexual abuse. I have always tried to explain to them that first of all, every adult (irrespective of what they do for a living) needs to be aware of these issues and must look out for the red flags. And secondly, anyone who works with children on a regular basis, in whatever capacity, must understand these issues well and know what to do and how to do it in case a relevant situation arises.

A victim had once told me that she had reported a sexual abuse to her school counselor, but the counselor immediately went back to her family and discussed it with the victim’s mother, who minimized the situation and denied the problem. After that incident, the victim had decided not to say anything to anybody at all. This is one of the reasons as to why school counselors need to be aware of all the issues associated with child sexual abuse.

 

Sep 20. 2018

It appears to me that most schools still are not able to get the parents involved whole-heartedly in their bullying prevention process. Over the last few years some of the schools I spoke at had arranged for me to speak to a group of parents. Interestingly in most of those cases only a few parents attended.

This is an extremely important factor because without the cooperation and assistance of the parents it is very difficult for school staff to maintain a safe environment at the school. In my book “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder” I have included a whole chapter describing my interactions (in adult years) with the worst bully from my school days. From that most revealing encounter I came to understand that this specific bully had a very negative home life and was taking out his frustrations by bullying me and other kids.

Since then I have now come across several situations where bullies have shared with me their thoughts about why they end up bullying other kids. In many cases it is the negative family situation that drove them to act this way.

I am glad that most school staff try their best to get the parents involved in their programs. It may not be an easy thing to accomplish, but I certainly hope that they will continue their efforts to get the support they need from the parents to minimize bullying in schools.

 

Sep 13, 2018

Through my own experience in fighting successfully against wrongful termination I have discovered that there are a lot of things that employees need to learn regarding the rights they have in dealing with situations like these. Most employees seem to believe that they don’t have any rights at all. What I have learnt is that that is not true.

It is true that most states allow at-will employment – that allows an employer to terminate an employee at any time. But the point is that the employers cannot be irresponsible about this and cannot just get rid of an employee simply because he or she was bringing up some difficult issues that needed to be handled properly.

In my specific example, I was bringing up issues that were affecting me personally and were also affecting the organization negatively. Then suddenly I was terminated – it was clear to see that they did that simply because they were not truly interested in handling the issues brought up by me. That is why it became a wrongful termination.

This is the main reason why documentation is extremely important. If there is a trail of documentation (prior to the termination) that shows that there have been some conflicts between the employee and the employer, then termination could be perceived as a wrongful act.

That is why good employers make sure that all complaints and issues brought up by employees are handled according to an established process.

 

Sep 06, 2018

I am very interested in collaborating with other organizations that are also trying to develop awareness and promote changes for greater effectiveness in prevention of child sexual abuse. I have been speaking around the country on this topic and I have confirmed the fact that most people still do not understand how easily a child can become a victim of sexual abuse and why it is critical that we put all our efforts together to focus on prevention, i.e., doing things ‘before’ it happens, not after.

I have had some success collaborating with other organizations focusing on these same issues. However, I feel that we can all do more. I have approached some organizations with the hope of collaboration, but have not received a positive response. They feel like they are doing everything they want to pursue and they do not need collaboration with others. I always get confused when I see reactions like that – why can’t we collaborate when we seem to have the same objectives?

I have also noticed that sometimes an organization becomes larger and loses the main focus that it originally started with. It seems like they just want to continue what they have been doing and do not want to get involved with something else even if that might produce better results.

Aug 30, 2018

As schools start up around the country for the 2018-2019 school year, I hope that parents and school staff around the nation remain diligently focused on preventing bullying at their schools. We simply cannot afford to allow any young person to have to deal with difficult psychological issues triggered by bullying. Let us allow everyone to enjoy school life in a safe environment.

Ideally every child should look forward to going back to school again around this time of the year. After a gap of three months, many typically enjoy getting back to the routine, meeting up with old friends, and making new friends. However, there are many for whom this is not at all a positive event – and that is not because they hate the teachers, or they don’t like meeting old friends, or making new ones. In most cases, these children simply do not want to go back to school again because they do not want to face bullying again.

For these children, the school is like a prison – it is not at all a safe environment to go into. I believe that many parents and school staff still do not understand how traumatizing bullying can be for some children. Every child has the right to get an opportunity to learn in a safe environment, and in my opinion, we as adults are failing miserably if even one child has to tolerate bullying when he/she is in school.

 

Aug 23, 2018

It is clear that many organizations around the nation are starting to focus on this issue of handling bullying and harassment in their work settings. Currently there are many webinars, trainings, and workshops available to help organizations deal with this issue. This is a good thing and we hope that the trend will continue in this right direction.

I am scheduled to do a webinar on Sept 19, 2018, on this topic – the title of my webinar is “Employees’ guide to responding to workplace bullying and harassment”. This webinar will be based on my book titled “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer”. This book provides ideas and suggestions for both employees and employers. I intend to do another webinar at a later date focusing on what employers should know about dealing with workplace bullying and harassment.

Most successful companies understand that their success is highly dependent on how satisfied their employees are. That is why they make it a policy to make sure that bullying and harassment in the workplace is not tolerated. That is also the reason why they have appropriate training for both employees and management personnel to minimize incidents of bullying and harassment, and to be prepared to handle incidents appropriately utilizing a well-defined and well-publicized process.

 

Aug 16, 2018

Prevention means making sure that children are not put in a situation that could be risky for them. This means that everyone including family members, friends, neighbors, and children’s service providers must all be extra careful in making sure that children are protected from possibly harmful situations.

In the true account story I write about in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”, I describe some of the not-so-positive experiences I had in dealing with family members and with child protective services to help prevent a situation that could have possibly led to child sexual abuse.

Family members were either somewhat reluctant to get involved or rather slow to act on it. I was a family friend and therefore was not able to take any direct action. Fortunately, after a lot of effort, I was able to get some family members to take action.

My experience with the child protective services was also somewhat confusing. Interestingly they were always very attentive and interested in listening to me whenever I called them, but somehow there was no follow-up action. Eventually I got the message that they don’t always put a lot of priority for a situation where something bad has not happened yet. I got the feeling that they would like to respond to every such situation if they could, but apparently they did not have the resources to follow all possible preventive situations. I hope this can change in the near future so they are able to follow up on all preventive situations as well.

 

Aug 10, 2018

The behavior of a bully is somewhat similar to how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) torments a victim. A bully tries to establish control over the victim, and in fact that’s what OCD does as well. That is why OCD is sometimes known as the “internal bully” or the “enemy within”. It’s no wonder why bullying often triggers OCD for the victim.

Typical bullies control the victims from outside – control is one of the key reasons why bullies do what they do. It is quite likely that these bullies have had difficult home situations where they were controlled a lot at home. They often act out outside the home trying to work out their frustrations by bullying other children and controlling them. In fact when I had my interesting encounter in my adult years with the worst bully from my school days, one of the things he mentioned to me was that his negative home environment had contributed in turning him into a bully, trying to exercise control over other kids.

OCD tries to control the victim in somewhat similar fashion. It keeps making the victim feel that if he/she does not do something in a particular way, something bad will happen to them. That is the way OCD tries to control the victim from within. Eventually with the help of therapy and medication, the victim learns to neutralize the power of OCD.

However, overall the similarities are interesting, and that is why it is easy to understand why many victims of bullying end up having to deal with OCD or other anxiety disorders.

 

Aug 03, 2018

Many managers and supervisors across the country have never received training in developing communication skills. They often believe, incorrectly, that bullying employees is the only way to get them to perform. If these managers and supervisors were trained properly on effective communication, incidents of bullying and harassment in the workplace will go down drastically.

A manager or a supervisor needs to be able to communicate effectively with each and every employee within his or her group. And the same communication approach does not typically work for all employees. That is the most important thing to understand.

Employees have different personalities and come from different social, emotional or educational backgrounds. That is why it makes sense that one communication approach may not work for all employees.

Managers and supervisors who are well trained know that employees get motivated for a wide variety of reasons. Some get motivated because of financial benefits, some get motivated because of a respectable position, some get motivated because of an exciting project, some get motivated because of career opportunities, while some others may be motivated simply because of the kind of work they do. A well trained manager can then customize his/her interactions with the various employees to keep them all motivated in the workplace.

Of course, there are always some managers and supervisors who are not trainable – they will always know only one way to manage people – and that is what causes the issues in the workplace.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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