Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Stuck Together

 "There is no such thing as being the perfect parent. So just be a real one." 

— Sue Atkins


Three flights of stairs. 


Since I got married, that's how much I need to walk from the entrance of my building to get to my apartment. 


I’ve done it with packages, I’ve done it with strollers.


But then I couldn’t do it due to injuries in not one, but both of my knees. As each knee had a torn meniscus.


Fortunately, my building has an elevator, and I finally decided to utilize this machinery.


Unfortunately, the elevator was working as well as my knees were.


One afternoon, my daughter and I were descending in the elevator when we heard a loud noise that can be described as either a crack or a crunch. Either way, it was not a comforting sound.


The elevator stopped and we were stuck.


I immediately went into problem solving mode. 

Ring the alarm

Call the elevator company

Inform the fire department


It took about 45 min, but eventually we were able to get out of the elevator. 


But the ordeal was traumatic for my daughter. 


She was crying inside the elevator and even when we got out.

She said that she no longer wants to take the elevator, she only wants to do the stairs.

Being stuck was scary and the thought of it happening again was downright frightening for her.


Then I asked her a single question, and I believe her response is in line with that of at least 95% of children.


I asked her if, in retrospect, she preferred being in the stuck elevator with me or would she have preferred to be on the stairs with me being stuck without her. 


She responded “I’d rather be stuck with you”.


Parents, let this be a lesson. There are times when we get stuck, when we get into a dark place. When we feel like we are doing our children a disservice by having them around us when we have too much on our shoulders.


Kids would prefer that relationship and bond with their parents, even during the difficult time for parents.


Parents try to protect their children, and rightfully so. But pushing the child away during personal struggles isn’t protecting the child. 


Your child needs you and will choose you when given the option.


Make sure you create an environment where you’re welcoming to the child.


We all have our ups and downs. If we don’t want our children to run away from us when things are hard for them, we shouldn’t run away from them or push them aside when things are hard for us.



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 presenting 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




Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Child Abuse Prevention: Erasing Titles

 “It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.”

― Niccolò Machiavelli 




Unfortunately, it happens. 


A child gets abused, whether physically or sexually, by a respected person who has a title. 


The title might be affiliated with religion, such as Rabbi or Father. 


The title might be affiliated with a profession, such as Doctor or Professor.


When the story of abuse gets published in the media, there is always a discussion as to whether the abuser should be listed with their title. 


Some people believe that such behavior should disqualify the abuser from a renowned title.


Whilst I do believe that the abuse should disqualify them from further practicing with their title, I am of the opinion that it is of the utmost importance that the person be reported in the media with their title. 


There is a misconception that certain types of people can do no harm. By removing the title from the abuser, one uses revisionism to reclassify the abuser, while still maintaining the belief that people with that title do no harm. 


Let me explain using an example: The Frank family believe that doctors aren’t abusers. When they learn that the doctor down the road from them gets arrested for abuse, they stop referring to him as a doctor. Doctors follow their Hippocratic oath. Real doctors do no harm! The abuse shows that he isn’t a real doctor!


So, both remain true, the man down the road is an abuser and doctors don’t abuse. 


This is a dangerous type of thinking. 


Why is this dangerous? Because rather than learning that abusers can be rabbis, doctors etc., one remains with the belief that these people are incapable of harming a child. 


Approximately a year ago I wrote about Cognitive Dissonance & Child Sexual Abuse. In that article I discussed how people will dismiss the claims of abuse because it conflicts with their belief. Cognitive dissonance can also be an issue, even in cases where the victim is believed. 


By reclassifying the offender as a person without the title, people still mistakenly believe that titles mean they won’t abuse children.


Abusers come in all shapes and sizes.


They come in all genders, in all ages and in all professions. 


By removing titles from the abuser, we prevent this message from being heard clearly. 



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 presenting 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


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Trauma: Not Just the "What"

 “There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed. Be patient. Take up space. Let your journey be the balm.” 

— Dawn Serra



A number of years ago I was acting carelessly with a knife while preparing vegetables for a soup. This resulted in me badly cutting my finger and needing to rush to the hospital.


The hospital stitched me up and told me to get the stitches removed in ten days time, and see a finger specialist once the stitches were removed. 


When I finally was able to see the finger specialist, there was a third person in the room, a student whom he was mentoring.


“What happened?” the doctor inquired.

My response: “I was being stupid”.

“How did you get cut?” He asked, not accepting my previous response as satisfactory.

“I was preparing things for soup and I was being reckless” was my answer, believing that I was done.

But no, he still needed to ask for more details, and I was getting slightly upset by this point.

“What were you cutting when you hurt yourself?” was his next query. 

This seemed like a needless detail. He saw the scar that remained from the cut, what does he want from me? More juicy details so that I can discuss this embarrassing event in greater depth?

I told him the truth, “a sweet potato”.


Finally, the doctor was satisfied.


The doctor then looked at the student whom he was mentoring and said the following: “Always get more information. Had it been raw chicken, meat or fish, we would be handling this differently due to bacteria issues.”


What happened to my finger was physical trauma. 


When it comes to trauma, sometimes the issues are deeper than they appear.


Some would have only seen a finger with a cut, to this trained doctor he knew he needed to delve deeper to see if there were other potential issues that occurred at the time the finger got cut.


Whether the trauma is physical, emotional or sexual, the “HOW”, the “WHO”, the “WHERE”, the “WHEN” and the “WHY” can be important contributors to the “WHAT”.


Let me use a sexual assault as an example. 


To the untrained eye, they might only see the “WHAT”, which is obviously the sexual assault. 

But the others might also play key roles in understanding the trauma that this person is suffering. 

“HOW”: Were they drugged? Were they manipulated? Was there a weapon involved?

“WHO”: Was it a stranger? Relative? A respected individual who abused their position of trust?

“WHERE”: Was it in public? In a school? In their own home?

“WHEN”: Was it on a special day? E.g. if this occurred on their birthday, they might view their birthday very differently from now on.

“WHY”: Was it known that the person had a history of abuse but it was hushed by the community? Were there obvious signs of grooming that went ignored by parents and trusted adults?



The onion metaphor is often used to express the idea that many layers need to be peeled away before one can get to the core issue. 


This is not a good metaphor when it comes to trauma. The core problem, the “WHAT” might be obvious. However, the entire picture will include the other layers. The layers that will often get discarded as “unimportant” or “non-essential” by someone who lacks an understanding as to how trauma works.




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 presenting 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

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Outcome Bias: Blinded by the Results

 “Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, focus on the process not the prize.”

 — Bill Walsh

The human mind fascinates me. 


I love learning how my own mind works, as well as how other people’s minds work.


I am blessed to be in a profession where my work involves enabling people to recognize how their own minds work, assisting them in correcting deficiencies they have due to the way they process information.


Part of my work is showing people that they’re biased.


We all have biases, every single one of us.


I’m not referring to racial, religious or socio-economic prejudices, I’m referring to cognitive biases.


Cognitive biases are unconscious errors in thinking that arise from problems related to memory, attention, and other mental mistakes. These biases result from our brain’s efforts to simplify the incredibly complex world in which we live.

In a previous article, I wrote about Confirmation Bias and how we use our previous experiences to fill in the gaps into stories that we hear. 

There are many different cognitive biases that people have, but for the purpose of this article, I’d like to speak about one that I find very common with children, Outcome Bias.

Outcome bias is when one focuses too much on the result, and not on the process which led to the result. 

Human beings tend to be self-evaluative. We look back at what we’ve done and try to measure ourselves against that in the future. This can be a very useful trait as it enables us to learn lessons from the past and recycle them for the future. Unfortunately, it can also be a problem.

Hindsight is not always 20-20. In fact, we have a tendency to place too much importance on the outcome of a decision rather than the process by which we made that decision. 

For example: A student skips class and doesn’t study the course material, yet he still gets an A- on the midterm. That student might believe that he can continue skipping class and not study and still get a very good grade on the final.

In short, people believe that since it worked before, it will work again. Ignoring the route they took and the likelihood of a similar result.

The opposite situation is also a common case that falls under the category of outcome bias. That’s when the process was correct, yet the result wasn’t the ideal result. 

I once witnessed a meter-maid pacing near a car. It was summer and it appeared to him that a child, covered in a blanket, was left inside a carseat in a hot car. He called the police who immediately sent someone to open up the car. Additionally, an ambulance came in anticipation. When the police opened up the car door (via slim jim, not because they broke the window), it was a doll!

Baruch Hashem! There was no child in danger!

That was my response, as well as the response of other observers.

I was shocked to see the meter-maid’s response. It wasn’t relief that there was no child in danger. It was disgust in himself that he wasted everyone’s time for nothing. 

People tried to console him. Reminding him that he did exactly what he was supposed to do. That, despite the outcome, his process was exactly what it was supposed to be. But it all fell on deaf ears. 

My concern is that should he encounter a similar scenario in the future, he will put too much emphasis on the previous situation with the doll, and not call for assistance.

It might be a decision with deadly consequences. 

Outcome bias is very easy to have. We are a result oriented society, therefore our brains will naturally remember and focus on the previously obtained results. 

Instead of focusing exclusively on the result, one needs to ask how they arrived at the result. Outcomes can happen due to many different reasons. It can be a direct result of a proper process or simply bad choices. It can also be due to other things like luck, bad information or simply a lack of resources. 

By giving greater weight to the process rather than the results, one is better equipped to make wiser decisions in the future. 

As they say at the end of every investment commercial: “past performance is not indicative of future results.”


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 presenting 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




Wednesday, March 30, 2022

To Be(lieve) or Not to Be(lieve)

“It doesn't pay to ignore warnings. Even when they don't make sense.” 

-Debra Doyle

I’d like to preface this article by thanking my dear friend Shmuli Phillips for asking me to write an article about Lashon Hara and Child Sex Abuse Prevention for his audience. He has a great forum on Facebook, and all are welcome to check it out. Judaism Reclaimed: A journey through Judaism's most controversial issues


Lashon Hara is the act of speaking derogatory words about an individual, a business or even a group of people. Truth doesn’t not exempt one from the category of lashon hara. Furthermore, it is not only the one who speaks such words who is condemned: The Gemara in Pesachim (118a) cites Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, that both the one who speaks lashon hara and the one who accepts lashon hara (as truth) is deserving to “be thrown to the dogs”.


On the other hand, refraining from disclosing information about a potentially dangerous individual can involve other serious prohibitions such as “Do not stand by the blood of your fellow” (Vayikra 19:16). Our sages can be seen to take such prohibitions extremely seriously. For example the Gemara in Nidda (61a) relates the story of the death of Gedalia ben Achikam, who was the appointed governor of the Jewish people who remained in Israel (after the destruction of the first Temple). Gedalia was informed by a man named Yochanan ben Kareiach that Yishmael ben Nesaniah was planning on killing Gedalia at a banquet.

No other person came forward with such a warning. 

Gedalia took no action. 

This inaction led not only to his own death, but also to the deaths of other attendees at the banquet, as well as eighty other people the very next day. All killed by Yishmael ben Nesaniah.

Surprisingly, however, the Gemara identifies the verse in Yirmiyah as accusing Gedaliah – not Yishmael – as the murderer: “the pit into which Yishmael threw all the corpses of the men he had struck via the hand of Gedalia.”

Via the hand of Gedalia? But surely Yishmael was the one who killed them. Why does the verse in Yermiah say that they died “at the hand of Gedalia”?

The Gemara responds that since Gedalia received the warning from Yochanan ben Kareiach and didn’t accept the warning, it is as if he committed the murders himself!

The obvious question follows: “But it was Lashon Hara and one is forbidden to believe Lashon Hara. So why was Gedalia condemned when Lashon Hara isn’t supposed to be believed?”

The answer is given by the Amora Rava, who says that even though one should not accept it as truth, one should be concerned for its possibility and act/prepare accordingly.

The conclusion to take away from this teaching is that people can and should protect themselves based upon the information that they’ve heard, despite the fact that they aren’t believing the information as truth.

Working in the field of child safety has shown me how difficult it is for people to properly accept this point. Whenever an accusation is made, people immediately start with the reasons why it shouldn’t be believed and why no action is necessary.

“It’s lashon hara”

“One complaint? That’s all?”

“No reason he shouldn't be allowed to work while we investigate”

In the case of Gedalia it was one single voice.

He didn’t listen to it.

That’s why the Torah deemed him to be responsible for over 80 deaths.

When an accusation is made, protecting oneself to a greater degree doesn’t mean you believe the accusation, it means you’re doing your due diligence. As Rava pointed out, the two are mutually exclusive. You can be mindful of the accusation without believing the accusation.

We owe it to the future generations to properly understand this message. Too often people will go out of their way to show how much they don’t believe the Lashon Hara (e.g. hire the accused to babysit). Choices like that caused destruction back then, and the results are identical now. Protection doesn’t mean believing. Protection is protection and believing is believing. The sooner we can separate the two the better.



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 presenting 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

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Silence Induced Indirectly

 “The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.”

– Peggy O’Mara


In my previous article, I discussed the 3 different types of pressures that kids feel from their parents. 

First there is direct pressure, when the parent directly tells the child what they need to do. 

The second type is indirect pressure. That’s when the child knows what the parent desires because of how they’ve witnessed the parent threaten other children. 

The third type is self-imposed pressure. Where the child has a perception as to what pleases the parent, and tries their best to fulfill it, despite not actually hearing or witnessing the parents actual desire.


These three types of pressures play a major role when it comes to a child reporting their abuse. 


The first type of pressure, the direct pressure, is self explanatory. That’s a case where a parent tells the child that they must remain quiet. 


It is the other two categories of pressure that parents fail to recognize are affecting their child.


How do you speak about sexual abuse at home? What do your children hear when the news comes on that a star athlete has been accused of sexual abuse? Do they hear you calling the accusers liars? Attention seekers? People trying to smear the good name of the athlete? Whores?


If you do, whether knowingly or not, your child will believe that’s what you’ll call them when they come forward with news of their own abuse.


You might have even silenced them before their abuse ever took place.


How do you speak about someone “holy” who gets accused of wrongdoing? 


If you stress that their piety means that they couldn’t have done the act they’re accused of, then your child won’t come to you if someone “holy” does something “ungodly” to them.


Parents need to be extremely careful how they discuss news reports of sexual abuse. How you do so will dictate whether your children feel safe or unsafe confiding in you.


Then there is the final pressure, the self-imposed pressure. 


That’s where the child chooses to remain silent because they feel like they’ll be telling the parent that they, the child, has failed the parent.


Speak with your child about sexual abuse. Make it known to them, and more importantly, make them feel that you will believe them if something were to occur. 


Be careful how you speak about other situations and people. Even idle chatter to other adults can have a profound impact on listening young ears.


One final note, be extremely careful with how you learn and discuss the story about Dina and Shechem in the Chumash. 


The commentary that “bad things only happen if you’ve done something wrong” absolutely KILLS people. First, it isn’t the only pshat and it doesn’t mean that it refers to every single person (as opposed to someone on a very high spiritual level). More importantly, it is interpreted as “the Torah says I deserved this”. 


Better to focus on the pasuk which says “la-naarah lo sa’aseh davar” (To the girl raped, we do nothing to her).


Believe victims.

Help victims.

Comfort victims.


Don’t assist abusers 

Don’t suppress victims

Don’t find a way to blame the victims.


All buildings have underground foundations that ensure that they’re standing up correctly and not collapsing. How you speak about sexual abuse in front of children is the foundation that will decide what happens should they, heaven forbid, become a victim.



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 presenting 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

Monday, February 28, 2022

Pressure, Pressure and More Pressure

“Some people thrive under pressure, but pressure can also ruin your performance, it can push you down angles which you don't want to go.”

-Henry Cavill


Psychology and how the mind works has always fascinated me. When you learn how your own mind works it can enable you to function at a higher level. Additionally, when you learn how other people’s minds work, it can help with your relationship with them. This is because you know both what to expect from them and how to best communicate with them.

Psychology plays a critical role in aviation. Pilots need to learn how they behave in certain situations. First officers need to know how, and when they should raise objections to the captain. Biases during flight (e.g. expectation bias, confirmation bias), as well as human factors (task saturation, tunnel vision) can lead to catastrophic results.  

There is something else that can cause pilots to make poor judgements, and that is pressure. 

Pressure can come in one of three forms:

  1. Direct pressure

  2. Indirect pressure/historical

  3. Self-imposed pressure.

Direct pressure is when hierarchy demands that the pilot must do something. E.g. land the plane on time and at the intended airport. This can result in the pilot performing unsafe procedures, for example flying too fast or landing in unsafe weather conditions, in order to meet the demanded goal.

Indirect pressure/historical is where nothing is being told to the pilot at this moment, however, he is aware that his colleague was fired when the colleague chose to land at an alternate airport due to an unsafe weather condition at the intended airport.

Self-imposed pressure is when nothing is being told/demanded of the pilot at all. Nevertheless, the pilot feels an obligation towards the company and his passengers to the point that the pilot doesn’t recognize any other options other than landing at the intended airport at the scheduled time.

People will recognize the direct pressure while it is happening, but the latter two pressures they’re often blinded to while it is happening.

Why am I speaking about pilots? Because you can change pilots to children and it is the same story.

Children feel these same 3 different types of pressures from their parents. But most of the time, the parents are oblivious to the fact that they’re pressuring their child via indirect pressure/historical pressure. Parents also don’t try to alleviate the self-induced pressure that the child has placed upon themselves towards the goal of gaining the acceptance and recognition of the parent.

Children are sponges, they hear what you say. 

They remember how you’ve previously reacted to different events, regardless of whether it involved them or not.

These all play a huge role in the indirect and historical pressures that we place upon our children.

In the coming articles, I hope to delve further into this idea. How it relates to specific situations, including children reporting sexual abuse, and how we can better recognize it and prevent it from happening in the future.



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 presenting 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