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

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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

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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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