Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Did You Properly Identify the Problem?

“True compassion means not only feeling another's pain but also being moved to help relieve it.”
-Daniel Goleman




Tim is walking in the street with his 5 year old daughter. His daughter is holding a large helium balloon that she was given earlier in the day. The balloon is so big and it makes her so happy.

Suddenly, the young girl loses her grip on the balloon. It flies away towards the clouds.

Tears freely flow down this young girl’s face. Cries emanate out of her mouth.

Her balloon is gone and she feels loss.

Loss is not something that she has really felt yet in her young life.

Her crying continues getting louder and louder.

When one wants to help there are two steps one needs to take before assisting.
1. Identify the problem
2. Offer a solution

Most people in this situation would identify the problem as the lost balloon and the solution would be to purchase another balloon (and in a case where a new balloon cannot be purchased, they’d either make a promise or try to fight the feelings of loss).

But the problem isn’t the lost balloon. The problem is the feeling of loss.

Rather than trying to “fix” the problem with a new purchase, fix the problem by showing your child compassion. Allow them to cry. Be there with them. Enable them to share their feelings (yes, even at this age).

Life will present many teaching opportunities, many opportunities to bond with your child. Don’t run away from these opportunities, embrace them.

Not every problem is what it appears.

You can’t properly solve the problem if you’ve misidentified it.

It is more important that we give our children our time, our attention, our listening ear and our compassion than it is to give our children money.

Giving a new balloon would only have pushed the problem to the side, it would not have solved it.

Pushing problems to the side (if it works at all) only works in the short term.

Never forget, kids are a long term investment.

Stop using short term interventions on long term investments.


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

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Ignore the Hindsight

“It is easy to be wise after the event.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle





Something very out of the ordinary caught my eye while walking home this morning.

Police were gathered around a car.

I’ve seen police gather around cars before, but never like this.

This time, bystanders were allowed to be near the car. That means they weren’t concerned about a bomb.

As I got to the car, I saw what the concern was.

In the back seat, there was a car seat that was completely covered by a baby blanket.

No one was sure whether or not there was a baby under this blanket.

Police had someone come with tools to open the car.

They got the car opened and checked the car seat, only to discover that it was empty.

Everyone was relieved.

Everyone except one of the police officers.

He started doubting whether he made the correct move in calling for the car to be opened.

This got me to think about how we think and how we parent.

When we make a decision, we can only base it upon the information we have at that moment. We should not let hindsight dictate whether or not our decision was the right decision. We should also not let hindsight dictate whether we criticize our children for their decision.

There is the famous story about the boy who cries wolf. The people all believe him the first time, a few believe him the second time, and no one believes him thereafter.

This applies to our own decision making process. Imagine that this police officer is yet again presented with an identical scenario, and once again he calls for the car to be opened and there is no child inside. Do you think he will call for someone to open the car if this situation presents itself a third time? Would you make the call if the previous two times there was no baby inside?

Rather than judging whether we made the correct choice based upon the result, we need to judge based upon the information given to us at the time.

If we judge, and if we get our children to judge, based upon the available information at the time, there will be no hesitation as to whether to take action.

This is extremely difficult, especially as we live in a results based world. But in order to give ourselves and our children the tools to make smart decisions, we need to help them with their decision making process. One of the ways to do this is by helping them realize that we judge our decisions based upon what we knew at the time and not by what we learned thereafter.


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

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Challenge the Question

“Everything we know has its origins in questions. Questions, we might say, are the principal intellectual instruments available to human beings.”
— Neil Postman



Children are taught from a young age to answer questions. Tests are filled with questions that they must answer. Conversations start with questions.

Children are also taught to ask questions. They are encouraged to explore their creativity. To ask why and try to figure out the answer.

While children are taught to ask and taught to answer, there is one main thing they are never taught.

Challenge the question.

Allow me to explain. When I was about 11 years old, I was watching a news show on Nickelodeon. The show was hosted by Linda Ellerbee and she first showed her panel (of children) two news stories. The first news story was about a crime that was videoed by a bystander. The guilty were able to be caught since the bystander took a video. The bystander who took the video was considered a hero. The second story was about a man who went out on his porch with his video camera and recorded a couple in their apartment having sex. This man who videoed was considered a criminal.

Linda asked the children: “So is videotaping good or bad?”

Some of the children explained why it was bad while the rest explained why it was good.

Yet no one attacked the question.

The question was being used to force the child into an all-or-nothing type choice. It wasn’t a fair question. Like many things if used properly it can be beneficial, yet if used incorrectly it can be harmful.

If we want to really enable out children to become better thinkers and less susceptible to certain manipulation tactics, children need to be taught the following about questions and answers.

There are two types of questions and there are two types of answers.

There are questions that are asked because the one asking wants an answer and there are questions that are asked because the one asking is trying to make a point.

There are answers that attempt to answer the question and there are answers that attempt to destroy the question.

Each of these have a time and place, but they can only be used if one is aware of their existence.


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

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Understanding Community Grooming

“Sometimes we want to believe something so badly that we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of.”
― Aaron B. Powell, Doomsday Diaries III: Luke the Protector





Mary wanted to buy an expensive diamond necklace. Mary had two choices. She could go to the new store that had only been opened for a few weeks, or she could go to the store that Mr. Adams has owned and operated for the past 15 years.

Knowing that she doesn’t know much about diamonds, Mary felt more comfortable going to the store of Mr. Adams. After all, there is good reason why he has been running his shop as long as he has.

Mary found something she liked and she paid $15,000 for her gorgeous new diamond necklace.

After a few weeks, Mary decided that she should probably get this necklace insured. The insurance agent told Mary that she needed to get this piece appraised. Mary was shocked when she was told that not a single diamond on this necklace was real! They were all cubic zirconia!

Not wanting to believe this shocking news. Mary found another appraiser, one not affiliated with her insurance, who told her the same thing.

Filled with a combination of disappointment and anger, Mary went back to the jewelry store where she bought the necklace.

Mr. Adams denied that he sold her anything other that pure diamonds. When she showed him the appraisal and the necklace, he accused her of giving a different necklace to the appraiser.

Mary then started telling people that Mr. Adams conned her.

Mr. Adams sued Mary for slander.

Previous clients of Mr. Adams had their jewelry appraised and when the report came back that they had diamonds, they admonished Mary for trying to destroy Mr. Adams’ life.

Mary couldn’t prove that the necklace she had was the exact one that was sold to her by Mr. Adams and Mr. Adams’ 15 years of honest business was being used as proof that Mary was a liar.

Had this happened at the other store, the new store, Mary would be believed. However, this was an accusation against the store that has such a sterling reputation, thus it was ignored.

Why am I talking about a jewelry store?

Because the script is identical for those who sexually abuse a child.

If someone really wants to swindle someone and get away with it, they will spend time and years making sure that they develop a solid reputation. A reputation that cannot be destroyed by a single accusation.

Just like all those sales of real diamonds doesn’t prove that Mary is lying when she says she was sold a fake, other children saying that they weren’t abused by the accused doesn’t mean that the victim was not abused by the accused.

Just like victims get groomed, family and communities also get groomed.

Some abusers spend YEARS grooming not only their victims, but their families and the entire community as well. 

Sadly, the only way that Mary will be believed is if other people accuse the jeweler of similar tactics.

Sadly, in the current state of our community, victims will only be believed once more victims step forward.




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

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Stages of Grooming

“It's important to talk about it. You raise awareness. But you can also prevent it (child abuse) by not letting it be a secret.”

-Chris Witty







One of my first articles that I wrote was called Know Your Enemy. In that article I wrote about how people who sexually abuse children usually fall into one of two categories: Situational and Preferential.



In this article, I plan on discussing Preferential abusers and one of the main ways they select their victims, through a method known as grooming.



What is “grooming”?

Grooming is an exploitative process which acts as preparation for sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.

Grooming develops an emotional connection with a child and helps to:

• Gain the child’s trust

• Create opportunities to abuse

• Reduce the risk of detection

• Increase vulnerability of the child

• Increase the child’s compliance



There are seven stages of the grooming process (Please note: every case is different, in some cases one or more of these stages might be skipped)

1.     Getting access to children - Abuser places themselves in a position where they have access to children

2.    Targeting the victim - Abuser will gauge which children are the ones most capable of being abused without getting the abuser into trouble e.g.

a.    Finding a child or children that has a vulnerability that can be exploited by the abuser. Or

b.    Is there a child who wouldn’t be believed if they ever reported abuse? Is there a child who wouldn’t be allowed to come forward with a claim of abuse?

3.    Gaining trust e.g.

a.     Befriending the child

b.     Learning about his/her interests, being helpful, showering the child with gifts and attention, or sharing secrets

                                               i.          Included within “sharing secrets” is allowing the child to do things that their parents do not allow (e.g. smoking a cigarette, drinking beer, watching certain types of movies etc.) which can later be used against the child.

These behaviors are used to give the child the impression there is a loving and exclusive relationship between them and the would-be offender.

The perpetrator portrays themself as a non-threatening individual with whom the child can talk and spend time with. During this step, the offender adjusts his or her strategies based on the age of the child they are targeting, the needs of the child, and the child’s perceived vulnerabilities.

4.    Filling a need e.g. Perpetrators utilize tactics such as giving money/gifts, flattery, and meeting other basic needs of the potential victim. Tactics may also include increased attention and affection towards the targeted child.

5.    Isolation  - The grooming sex offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special bond between the abuser and the potential victim.

6.    Sexual Stage: Desensitizing the Child - Once there is sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the abuser progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through:


a.    Talking about sex and/or private areas on the body.


b.    Sharing pornographic videos and/or pictures.


c.     Creating situations in which both offender and victim are naked.


d.    Seemingly accidental touch or innocent behaviors, which then escalate to more intimate touching. e.g. the child molester may first give the child hugs or pats on the back, and then gradually escalate to wrestling, tickling, or back massages and the eventual sexual contact. Other tactics include playing hide and seek in the dark, playing strip poker, drying a child off with a towel, massaging an injury, playing physical games etc.


At this point, the adult exploits a child’s natural curiosity, using feelings of stimulation to advance the sexuality of the relationship.


7.    Controlling the Child and the Situation: Once sexual abuse is occurring, abusers will commonly use secrecy, blame, and threats to maintain the child’s participation and continued silence.

Perpetrators use various types of emotional manipulation. One specific method used is convincing the child that the child would be the one in trouble if the abuse or “shared secret” (as mentioned above in 3b) becomes known.



Why is it important for adults to learn about grooming?

Short answer: Because we shouldn’t expect kids to stop it on their own.

By the time the grooming process reaches the sexual stage, it is nearly impossible for a deliberately selected and groomed child to avoid the sexual abuse.



Therefore, it is the job of the adults in the child’s life to recognize the warning signs and put a stop to the relationship while still in the initial stages.



The child will not be happy that you are separating them from the person who gives them attention and gifts, and that’s okay.



Better your child be angry at you for intervening before the groomer shows their true colors versus your child being angry at you for turning a blind eye and allowing the grooming and abuse to proceed.






Yisroel Picker is a Social W​​orker 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. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.

You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
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