Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Corona Virus: Seize the Opportunity

“It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”
-Barbara Kingsolver





A few years ago I had the privilege of going away on vacation with a number of people in my family.

After a long day of traveling and sightseeing, we sat outside our cabins joking, snacking and playing games. My mother turned to us and asked about herself “We’ve had a long day today and have a long day tomorrow, so why am I up now?”

I turned to her and responded “Because these are the parts of the trip that we end up remembering most”.

She smiled, agreed, and joined us for a few games of Boggle.

Sure we remember the sights and the attractions, but we also remember the interactions we had with our family members. Such as spending time with them, communicating with them and bonding with them.

I’m sharing this story to make a point.

While many are viewing the current Corona Virus situation as a tremendous difficulty (me included) many children are viewing this a vacation and bonus time with parents.

Parents have the power, more so than ever, to create lasting memories and lessons for their child.

What type of lessons and memories are you giving your child now?

Are you showing them that you are approachable or are you showing them they are annoying you anytime they open their mouths?

Are you participating in their learning and entertainment or are you asking them to make their own arrangements?

Every now and then, there is an open door, the ability for parents to connect with their child.

This is one of those times.

Where some see difficulties others see opportunities.

Seize this opportunity to connect with your child.

Years from now they won’t remember this time as the period where they couldn’t do things, they’ll remember it as the time their parents showed interest in them, spent time with them, and created lifelong memories with them.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Why Ask Why?

“I think that probably the most important thing about our education was that it taught us to question even those things we thought we knew.” 
–Thabo Mbeki





**This article will be slightly different than my other articles. It is written in more of a rambling style. Combining two important, yet very different points.**

Growing up in America I was inundated with many catchy slogans for products that companies were trying to get me to buy.

“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”

“Just Do It”

“They’re Grrrrrreat!”

But there is one slogan that stuck with me, ironically enough, it was for an item that I was too young to purchase.

“Why ask why?”

This was the slogan for a new product from Budweiser known as Bud Dry.

Unfortunately, too many people are following this slogan, and for all the wrong reasons.

Let me explain what I mean.

If there is a controversial issue and I state my side on it, people will automatically assume they know why I side the way I do. They won’t even give me the ability to explain myself.

If we want our children to be able to properly express themselves, we need to allow them to explain their “why” before we proceed in the dialog. 

Just because the twitterverse doesn’t allow them to explain the “why” before they need to defend themselves from their decision doesn’t mean that we need to act similarly.

There is actually a specific reason why I am discussing this, and it is on a topic that I've been meaning to discuss for a long time.

I recently expressed to someone that I am against laws (such as the recent one in Alabama) which ruled that some people who’ve been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor need to receive chemical castration as part of their parole.

Immediately I was accused of being soft on crime, showing too much mercy on the abusers and not caring about victims.

It was assumed that I was against this due to claims of “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Actually, I’m against this for an entirely different reason.

Contrary to popular belief, not every person who sexually abuses a child is a pedophile.

To clarify, there are people who sexually abuse a child despite the fact that
they are not sexually attracted to a child.

These sick individuals will continue to wreak havoc, chemical castration or not.

The reason why I am against chemical castration is because it will give society a false sense of security (e.g. He can be trusted, he has been chemically castrated) when the danger level has not decreased in the slightest.

In summary, there are a few lessons to learn from this episode:
1. Follow the old Enron motto of “Ask Why” and not Bud Dry “Why Ask Why?”. Give your children and others a chance to explain themselves before engaging in a debate.
2. Don’t assume that you know why a person has taken one side over another in a debate.
3. Pedophilia (i.e. the sexual desire for a child) is not the only reason why people sexually abuse children. To put in place an intervention that only solves those who abuse due to a sexual attraction is incomplete.

Then there is the fourth lesson.

We can do things because it makes us feel good, or we can do them because it is what is needed.

For many people the idea of castrating a child molester feels good. Just look at all the comments online when mentioning a child molester. “Kill him”, “Beat him up with a baseball bat” (and more colorful ideas that I won’t mention here). These things are not said as an idea to help make communities safer, rather they are said because it makes the person offering these creative punishments feel better.

Unfortunately, doing something because it makes us feel good or feel safer doesn’t actually mean it makes us safer. Often it can do the exact opposite by giving people a false sense of security.

When doing an intervention of any kind, be truthful with yourself. Ask yourself if you are doing it for the sake of the other person/society or because it will make you feel good/safer.

If it is for the sake of another person or society, go ahead and intervene. Otherwise, the intervention might not be a good choice, despite the feeling it will give you.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ignoring the Optics

“In a land of freedom we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness.”
– Robert Griffin III




I sit here typing, not knowing whether I should be saying what is on my mind.

Perhaps I am a hypocrite?

I tell my children that they don’t need to say everything that is on their mind, yet here I am, expressing a thought that I’m not sure I should be expressing.

In some of my earlier articles I've discussed the Law of Unintended Consequences, the idea that with every purposeful act, there will be outcomes that are non intended or unforeseen.

So here goes, here is what I’m wondering whether or not I can say this:

The unintended consequence of political correctness is killing young developing minds.

The idea that one needs to make sure that they don’t insult anyone is suffocating people of this era.

For generations healthy parents were teaching their children to ignore the optics and choose the best option for themselves.

“Hire the best person, regardless of what people say.”

“Don’t not be friends with ‘Kenny’ simply because ‘Jack’ won’t like it.”

“If you like that shirt, wear it! Why should you not wear it just because "Fred" will laugh?”

Now people are scared of making a choice that might make them appear racist or sexist.

Many people from all ages are figuratively walking on eggshells, worrying how a decision or verbal statement might be wrongly interpreted.

Here is a story to illustrate my concern: 

A number of years ago in the United Kingdom there was a report about how members of a certain ethic community in a certain town were abusing the children of their town.

The police were notified from the beginning that there are victims making allegations of abuse, yet the police refused to respond.

Because the police were worried about being branded as racists.

So they did nothing.

Which only empowered the abusers.

Which caused more children to become victims.

Political correctness should mean that we treat all people with equal respect. It should not lead to a reality where criminals and others who are a danger to society are ignored because it will skew the statistics.

It should also not lead to a society where we are more concerned about potential reactions than we are concerned about what is best for oneself and one’s family.

So how does this translate to children?

With many children this is causing them to choose the choice that they believe others want them to make, and not the choice that they want to make.

They will choose to make their parents or friends happy at the expense of their own happiness.

They will sacrifice their own want in order to avoid being given criticism for beliefs that they really don’t have.

They are scared to use their voice to express their opinion, simply because they’ve witnessed what happens to others who have attempted to voice theirs.

Sadly, this reality has also opened them up to be manipulated by people who prey on this type of undue caution. (e.g. “Will you sign my petition asking the governor to pardon this person, or are you racist against people of this ethnic background?).

The goal should be for children to feel safe enough to express their true thoughts and feelings and they should be comfortable enough to choose their own personal wants.

The goal should NOT be that one needs to be so cautious of other people’s feelings that it completely stifles oneself.

So what can parents do?

Two suggestions:

First, teach them about Hanlon’s razor. That is the concept which says: Never attribute to malice that which can adequately explained by stupidity.

The second lesson is not taught through mere verbal education, it is taught through modelling proper behavior.

If children see that their parents aren’t so quick to view every insult and slight as vindictive, perhaps they won't either.

If they see their mother and father aren’t focused on how their neighbors perceive them, perhaps the child won’t be concerned as to how their classmates view them.

The change needs to come from the home.

The change needs to come from us, and that first and foremost means we need to change.

If we model bravery, they can be brave.

If we model a healthy ignorance to the optics, they can too.

However,  if we show them that we care about what others think about us, no amount of words in the dictionary will be able to convince them that they should behave differently.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Why Do Victims ... ?

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
― Shannon Alder




I’ll admit, I’m not much of a basketball fan, but I did know about Kobe Bryant.

I’m seeing how so many people are being affected by his death.

I’m seeing how President Trump and former President Obama are tweeting their respects and his praises.

There is one, rather large, stain on his otherwise flawless legacy, and that is the accusations of rape made against him in 2003.

But no one wants to hear about it now.

In fact, a Washington Post columnist has been put on suspension for retweeting a Washington Post article about the rape hours after Bryant’s death.

I am not here to judge Kobe Bryant.

I am not here to decide whether his decision to settle the civil suit means he paid his debt to the victim and to society.

I am not here to discuss whether one incident of wrongdoing should ultimately define his life (with some people it should, with others it shouldn’t).

I am not here to decide whether or not he used this incident to help him transform his life for the better (which it very well may have).

But reading the details of that incident in 2003 are heartbreakingly eye opening.

If you want to understand why victims choose not to come forward, read what happened to the woman in this case when she came forward.

If you want to understand why victims decide not to pursue justice after they do come forward, read what happened to the woman in this case once the wheels of justice slowly started to turn.

If you want to understand how the death of the accused can trigger the victim, look no further than the glory and praise being shown to Kobe Bryant, despite the accusation, civil settlement and written apology to the victim.

(To learn more about the case and what the accuser went through, have a look at this article from the Los Angeles Times)

My desire here is not to slander or shame Kobe Bryant. The helicopter crash that took his life, the life of his 13 year old daughter and the other adults and children on that flight is a national tragedy.

My deepest condolences to all those who lost family and friends due to the crash.

But a tragic death doesn’t mean that we can (or should) sweep certain things under the rug.

So rather than sweeping it under the rug and rather than attempting to use this single incident to define his life, let’s do something else.

For the sake of the children who were onboard who will never know adulthood, for the sake of those children who are now orphans due to this crash, take the time to see what a victim of sexual abuse goes through when they decide to move forward with the legal process.

Understand why one not coming forward doesn’t mean that nothing happened.

Learn why a victim who decides to drop charges doesn’t mean they’ve been lying nor does it mean they’ve recanted.

See how even the death of the perpetrator can trigger the accused.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rushing to Share

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.”
― Steve Goodier



Two and a half years ago I read a headline titled “WhatsApp Killed My Father”.

Such a headline immediately grabbed my attention.

What was the author talking about? What killed him? Was it an addiction to the phone and social media that led to his death? Did someone destroy his character online, which led to a downward spiral?

It was none of those.

Her father was a victim of a drowning.

So why the rage at WhatsApp?

It was due to the fact that she found out about it because everyone was talking about it on WhatsApp, and that made her angry.

This story was reminded to me today as I read a few articles about the helicopter crash in California that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter and seven others.

There are many different aspects of the story of this crash, but I would like to focus on two specifically. First, the fact that TMZ reported the fatalities as quickly as they did. Second, the fact that there was a reports/rumors/tweets that former Laker Rick Fox was also aboard the helicopter.

TMZ was first to report that Kobe Bryant died in the crash. The New York Post claims that TMZ is saying that “Kobe’s people” gave permission to publish the crash story.

I have no problem with that, had he been alone in the helicopter.

But in reality, they only had permission to authorize reporting Kobe.

But there were 7 people on that helicopter who were not members of the Bryant family.

And the families of those 7 people knew their loved ones were traveling with Kobe Bryant.

And this is how they had to learn the devastating news.

There is also what happened (or rather, didn’t happen) to Rick Fox. Somehow a rumor started going around that Rick Fox was on that helicopter and was dead. I personally saw a tweet from someone who has millions of followers, spreading the news of Mr. Fox’s death.

Only he was wasn’t dead, nor was he even in the helicopter.

This was extremely hard on Rick and his family, as Rick expressed on TV.

There are important lessons to be gained from this.

We need to understand that we should not be in a rush to spread information, we first need to verify it.

We need to understand that even if we’ve verified it, we need to make sure that it is a safe time to share the information.

We also need to recognize that even if we’ve been told by one party that we can share the information, that doesn’t mean that all the relevant parties are giving permission to share.

Even though TMZ was ONLY reporting about the death of Kobe, the family members of those other passengers knew what that meant vis-a-vis their relatives who were on board.

This is an area that is extremely difficult for parents. They are basically parenting blind. There was no social media when they were growing up, so they (the parents) are trying to figure out how to parent it “on the fly”.

Parents, sit down with your kids and discuss these aspects of social media with your kids.

Teach them the need to confirm, help them gain the ability to make sure they are posting things that are ok to be posted, and assist them in seeing things from other angles (e.g. the other families).

Most important, instill in them that there is no glory in being the first to post something, and that there is no harm in waiting before clicking send.

Whether it be online behavior or offline behavior, kids (and adults) should preface any decision with ‘Just a moment, let me think’.

Slow down, think this through carefully before I make a decision.

Despite the fact that tweets can be deleted and WhatsApps can be ‘deleted for everyone’, doesn’t mean it undoes the damage it did when it was posted.



Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Act Now & Save

“I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 18 during my freshman year at UCLA. I refused to accept it - and I hid it from my coaches and teammates. But ignoring my problem didn't make it go away.” 
-Jackie Joyner-Kersee




About 18 months ago I started having pain in my left knee.

I ignored it.

I learned to live with pain.

I learned to compensate by using my right leg when things required more exertion.

As the months passed, the pain got worse and worse.

So I went to doctors and tests.

I had a small tear inside my knee. The diagnosis was to limit certain activities, and to go for physical therapy.

The first part I did, but I did not make the time to go for physical therapy.

Life went on, compensating by using the right leg for the strenuous stuff, and limiting activities that I knew were harmful.

I started feeling better. I started to remove the limits on the activities harmful on my knee.

I thought things were better.

I thought wrong.

My right knee couldn’t handle all that I was doing to it.

It is now much worse than my left knee was at its worst.

And I’m at the point where my problem is twice as big (both knees, not just one) and qualitatively worse, meaning that the initial intervention (physical therapy) might not be sufficient.

Very rarely do problems go away on their own.

More often, they get bigger and bigger the more you ignore them.

Small problems become larger problems and large problems become catastrophic problems.

While my own personal shared example involves a physical problem, the same exact rule holds true for emotional issues as well as mental health issues.

We need to stop fooling ourselves that we can hide the issue.

We need to recognize that ignoring the problem does not make it better.

We need to accept the fact that it is better to invest pennies and minutes to fix a problem when it is small, lest we be forced to spend years and a fortune when the problem becomes bigger.

Not just our own problems, but also the problems of those whom are entrusted in our care.

Parents need to be proactive and get their children help (when needed) and not wait for their child to be old enough that they must get it themselves.

The development from childhood to adulthood is a very difficult one to navigate, and it can be warped when there is an unresolved issue (or trauma) lingering untreated during the development.

Just like little potholes only become bigger potholes when left unfilled, minor emotional problems only become bigger due to inaction.

The famous saying is incorrect. Time does not heal all wounds.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Facebook Parenting"

“You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours on them.”
― Bryant McGill




Did you see the video of the boy who was forced to walk to school after his school punished him by banning him from the school bus?

The video was posted to social media by his father. His father “escorted” his son by driving the car behind his walking son.

Did you see the video of the father who shot a few bullets into his daughter’s laptop?

The daughter posted some very rude and insulting things online. When her father found out, he took her laptop and shot a few bullets into it.

He also filmed all of this, and posted it onto his social media.

There are thousands of such videos and posts.

Posts of parents punishing their children, sharing personal information about them, venting about intimate details of their child’s life.

For the parent’s friends to see and cast judgement onto the child.

For their own children to see and be embarrassed that their punishment has gone viral.

For their children’s friends to see and have ammunition to tease.

For the entire world to see.

So much has been made lately of cyberbullying, and rightfully so. However, this type of behavior by parents is a form of cyber bullying.

Online etiquette and safety isn’t just words that parents need to tell their children. It is behavior that needs to be modeled for them.

If there is information you don’t want your child to post (e.g. where they go to school, where they live), don’t post it yourself.

If there is a medical issue or behavioral issue you’d prefer to keep private, don’t post it yourself. (If you are posting in an online support group or in a forum where you can seek help/guidance, try to keep details to a minimum, so that others won’t figure out who is suffering from what).

If there is a picture or video that might cause your child to get into trouble (e.g. with a potential employer or amongst their friends), don’t post it yourself.

If there is something your child would be penalized for writing about an authority figure (e.g. principal, teacher, boss), don’t post it yourself.

Just like what they say can come back to haunt them, what you write and post can also come back to haunt them. That’s the reality, whether it is fair or not is irrelevant.

Boundaries are extremely important. Both for the parents and for the child.

Don’t violate these boundaries because you feel the urge to post about your child online.

Also, please don’t confuse discipline with embarrassment. You can justify the first two cases as good discipline, but the embarrassment the child received by being publicly shamed is unjustifiable.

Raising a child is a long-term game. Online posts are short term gratification. As with most things in life, best not to sacrifice the long term plan for some short term gratification.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
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