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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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Victimization: Child Sexual Abuse Victim & Family of Abuser

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.”
-Benjamin Franklin




Every now and then reality strikes.

Every now and then someone, unknowingly, reminds me how far we still need to go to protect children.

Every now and then someone who should really know better, shows that not only do they not know better, but they indicate that they have no intention of knowing better.

Every now and then I hit reset. Realizing that things which I take for granted should not be taken for granted.

Here is the back story:

I was speaking with an individual about a recent case of sexual abuse which made it to the news.

In this story, it was reported that the abuser had sex with a 14 year old. This was not a case of a victim physically forcing his victim to have sex, rather it was a case of grooming.

The abuser was arrested and it made the news.

This was the case we were discussing.

The person conversing with me told me that he really feels bad for the kids of the abuser. That they didn’t do anything wrong. They will suffer due to the wrongdoing of their father.

I agreed with him.

He then said something which still sends a shiver down my spine.

He told me that the family members are the biggest victims in the story. His logic, if you can call it that, was that the family members did absolutely nothing wrong, whereas the 14 year old abuse victim “agreed” to the sexual encounter.

This was his view about both this specific case, as well as victims of child sexual abuse in general.

There is so much wrong with this statement.

First, there is no such thing as a child “agreeing” to sex.

A child is never “also to blame” for sexual activity.

You can never say that the child “wanted it” or “requested it”.

Then there is the second issue, the issue that comes up so frequently, and that is the question about the family of the abuser.

Let me make this clear, the family members of the abuser are victims, albeit a different type of victims.

They are secondary victims, and their suffering is real.

But one cannot focus so much on the secondary victims that it costs the primary victims (or potential primary victims).

Let me explain using the example of a car accident.

Two paramedics arrive on the scene where a car struck a tree. There are two people in the car. The driver is not breathing and his pulse is extremely low. The female passenger is in agony, she is screaming how her leg is broken.

Both are victims, yet one deserves greater attention.

The passenger with the broken leg will need to wait for a paramedic who is not treating the driver.

So how can this error be fixed? How can we stop ourselves, and others from giving too much attention to the secondary victims (the family) at the expense of the primary victims (the child being sexually abused)?

The answer is three-fold.

First, we as a society need to stop stigmatizing the family of the abuser. If they haven’t done anything, live up to those words and stop stigmatizing people based upon other people’s behavior.

Second, we need to accept the fact that we as a society do not know how to handle an abuser on our own, and that they are often magnificent liars and manipulators. We cannot convince them to stop. We cannot send them to someone who will magically get them to stop. Making them move just makes it someone else’s problem, and transferring a problem shouldn’t be confused with solving a problem.

But more importantly, we need to take the time to learn the studies about what happens to victims of child sex abuse. The struggles which they will (possibly) have in both the short-term and the long-term.

The more you know about what actually happens to a victim, the less likely you are to confuse who is a primary victim and who is a secondary victim.

One final thought. There is a point that people make when defending the family members. They claim that the family members will suffer when the abuser gets put into jail, whereas the victim’s suffering ends when the abuser gets put into jail.

Sadly, this too is misguided.

The victim’s suffering doesn’t magically disappear once their abuser is put away.

This defense, like many others, are borne out of ignorance.

There are those who will choose to remain ignorant and there are those who will educate themselves to escape their ignorance.

For the sake of the children, please make an active effort to escape the ignorance when it comes to child sex abuse.


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, November 21, 2019

Cancel Culture and its Effect on the Children of Today

“You can't please everyone, nor should you seek to, because then you won't please anyone, least of all yourself.”
-Dylan Moran




A number of years ago I saw an article on Yahoo that really disturbed me.

The article discussed how there was a disabled boy who was quite limited physically. Despite all their medical expenses, he and his family were able to save enough money to go on vacation to Disney. When they got to the airport, they were told that due to the boy’s allergy to dogs, he would be unable to fly on the flight that he had booked. This boy was put on a flight the next day, losing a day of his dream vacation.

Why did his dog allergy prevent him from flying?
Because also booked on this flight was a veteran of the US Armed Forces who was traveling with his support animal. Meaning that the airline could not allow this boy and this veteran to fly on the same flight.

The article (and especially the comments) focused on how the airline had “wronged” this child and his family.

Such wonderful comments as: “How dare they kick this child off the plane?”, “They should sue!”, “Why couldn’t they kick off the guy with the dog?” and of course “I’ll never, EVER, be flying that airline”.

But here is the cold-hearted truth.

You can’t please everyone.

There will be times when you’ll be forced to make a difficult choice, and one party will be harmed. This airline was put into a very difficult situation. They needed one of the two parties (disabled boy or the veteran) to be off the flight. Regardless of which party was rebooked on a later flight, there would be equal criticism.

But this is the society we live in today, known as “Cancel Culture”.

It is an environment where anyone who “suffers” is given the title of victim.

It is an environment when anyone who makes a decision which causes the above mentioned “suffering” is evil, malicious and deserves to be punished.

It is a mentality of “Shoot first, and maybe I’ll ask a question or two later”.

Our kids are witnessing this.

They see this more clearly than us.

And it is silencing them.

This environment is showing them it is better to avoid taking risks than to take a risk and have it backfire.

It is showing them that you need to please everyone, otherwise you’ll be branded as being prejudiced against the one you didn’t please.

All of this leads people to one of three choices:
1. Just don’t try
2. Be one of the biggest criticizers, thereby masking your own “transgressions”
3. Stop caring about anyone at all
None of these three choices are healthy.

Parents, this is the surroundings that your children are growing up with, and people are a product of their surroundings.

In order to raise emotionally healthy children, children who can make the difficult decisions, one needs to start by making sure the home environment is safe.

 Encourage risk taking and keep encouraging risk taking even when it has failed (while also encouraging guidance seeking on tough decisions).
 Remind them that there is never a single solution that is perfect for everyone.
 Instill upon them the idea that just because something didn’t go their way doesn’t make them into a “victim”.
 Most importantly, teach them to judge others the way they would want to be judged. One specific example of how to judge people is by never ascribe malice to that which can easily be identified as ignorance.

I’d like to use a recent event I witnessed as an example. I was on the bus and I noticed that on the other side of the street there was a woman lying in the middle of the street. She was receiving medical attention. The street was one way, and no car was able to drive around this woman. The medics worked on this woman in the middle of the street. They did not move her to the sidewalk. Traffic was backing up, cars were honking, people were stuck.

The solution for this woman (helping her where she was) was a solution that was not good for the other drivers.

The fact that the other drivers could not drive did not make them “victims”.

The drivers in the back aren’t honking because they don’t care about the woman in distress (malice), they are honking because they are unaware of the situation in front of them (ignorance).

Most importantly, one should never allow fear of upsetting someone to prevent them from doing the right thing. Just like the medics didn’t let the upset drivers stop them from helping the woman in distress.


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, October 27, 2019

The Helmet Analogy: Online safety and Child Sex Abuse Prevention

“The real enemy of safety is not non-compliance but non-thinking”
-Dr Rob Long



As I walk through the streets of Jerusalem I am constantly seeing people on bicycles.

I see young children riding and I see older adults riding.

I see people riding new bikes and I see people riding bikes that are quite old and worn.

I see people riding for fun and people riding because they need to get somewhere.

That’s all well and good.

What bothers me is that I see people riding without a helmet.

What bothers me even more is when I see someone with a helmet on top of their head and they don’t even bother clasping it below their chin (to securely fasten it).

The helmet is a perfect analogy for other safety provisions that one needs to have in place. There are those people who refuse to put in these needed provisions (e.g. those who don’t wear a helmet) and there are those who do so little, that while they believe they are protected, if something were to actually occur, it will quickly be obvious that they are not protected (e.g. an unsecured helmet will not protect the head during any type of fall/accident).

The two specific areas where I constantly see parents making the “helmet mistake” are in the areas of child sex abuse prevention and online safety.

There are some parents who believe that there is no need to speak to their children about these topics. That everything will be ok without any intervention.

That’s akin to riding a bicycle on a major roadway without a helmet, only more risky.

Then there are other parents, they spoke with their child once about the subject and thus they’ve “covered it”. Others put the onus onto the schools or teachers to teach these things.

Sorry.

That’s a helmet without it being securely fastened.

You are giving yourself the impression that you are protecting your child, but the chances of them being protected is extremely low.

You are the one who needs to speak with your child about child sex abuse prevention. You need to do it thoroughly and once is by no means enough.

Then there is online safety, an area where parents need to take a more active role.

Don’t be one of those parents who think the app is smarter than your child. Children keep finding new ways to get around filters and restrictions on their phones/computers. Plus, social media gives them a way to share their tricks/hacks with other kids in a very short period of time.

A recent Business Insider article (which I found here on Yahoo) discusses how children have found numerous ways to outsmart the newest iPhone controls, and how Apple has yet to fix these known issues.

This is not an article from an overly emotional mother discussing some no-name app someone told her about.

This is an article from a respected publication discussing how one of the most valuable companies in the world is being outsmarted by kids, and the company hasn’t found the fix yet.

Don’t expect them to find a permanent fix, as kids will figure out how to beat the next fix.

Thus the only real solution is being a more active parent. Meaning that you yourself are monitoring the phone and its usage.

Know your children’s passwords. Check their browsing and social media history/activity. Check which apps they have on their phone (and learn about decoy-apps) to see if they have something which isn’t appropriate.

Don’t be afraid to now and then have a peek at their emails and SMS.

Online predators and cyber bullies cause tremendous destruction to the lives of children and young adults around the globe.

If you plan on allowing your child to venture online, make sure they are properly supervised, and that means by 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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Lessons from Skolnick Allegations

“If there's not any endgame, we're in quicksand. We take one more step, and we're still there, and there's no way out.”
-Richard Shelby



This article is inspired by the recent allegations against Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick. I do not know this person, but I would like to use this article to show parents some takeaways from this case. There are lessons here that we need to teach our children, as well as ourselves. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the story, feel free to click here.

The allegations against Rabbi Skolnick are disturbing. According to allegations he posed as a 14 year old girl online. He is accused of using this fake profile to befriend at least one 14 year old boy and get this boy to send him nude pictures of himself. Once Rabbi Skolnick had these pictures, he (allegedly) threatened the boy by telling him that if the boy did not send more pictures, the pictures that the boy had already sent would be made public.

There are a few important takeaways that we need to take from this case:

1. Nothing Online is Private

This is something that not only do we need to teach our children, but we ourselves also need to recognize. Nothing online is private. Anything we send online has the potential to be made public. We can never be sure who is at the other end of the message we sent. We don’t know who might find a lost phone. We never know if someone is peeking over a shoulder.

Someone might even be viewing a snapchat in one hand while recording it with a camera in the other hand.

If you don’t want it to become public, don’t send it via sms, mms or any other digital or online method.

Maybe you will want to take it one step further. Assume that anything you send online will one day become public.

2. Avoid the Quicksand
Let me explain what I mean. You do something wrong. You know you might get into trouble for it. Don’t do something even worse in an attempt to avoid getting into trouble for the smaller infraction.

AND IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU ARE BEING BLACKMAILED, DO NOT DO SOMETHING THAT WILL GIVE THE BLACKMAILER MORE AMMUNITION!

I have heard about children online being blackmailed into sending pictures long before I heard of Rabbi Skolnick. Sometimes the blackmailer has actual pictures, sometimes they bluff. Nevertheless, one (child or adult) should never give something that can be used against them when being blackmailed.

How Parents Should Approach the Subject with their Children
The issue that I am hearing from parents is a legitimate one. How can I discuss these issues with my children? I don’t want to give off the impression to them that I think they are doing the wrong thing online and I don’t want to give off the impression that I am ok with them speaking with girls/boys online.

To people with this concern I suggest that you make these lessons more general.

For example:
 Don’t send an email making fun of a teacher if you don’t want the teacher to ever see it.
 Don’t send a video doing something that will embarrass you if grandma ever saw it.
 Don’t agree to do something wrong/illegal because someone is threatening to harm you (or your reputation) if you don’t.
 If someone is willing to blackmail you because they have something against you, giving them more that they can use against you will only make things worse.

The allegations in the aforementioned case are sickening. Let’s try to use it as a teaching moment.

More importantly, let’s try to make this a teaching moment which protects our children without causing them too much fear, panic, anxiety and distrust.

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, 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

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here
Follow Yisroel on Facebook Here