Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Misguided Defense

“Don't allow being taught the wrong way for so long make you think it's right.”

― Carlos Wallace 



Recently, a very famous athlete in the United States has been accused by over a dozen women, specifically massage therapists, of sexual harassment. 

It isn’t my place to discuss these claims. Whether athletes behave differently because they think they can get away with anything. Whether they are bigger targets because they are famous, have money and a reputation that they’d like to protect. Either way, this isn’t my field of expertise. Therefore I will neither be discussing this specific case, nor the sexual abuse of women by men in general.

I am mentioning this case because the accused and those who seek to defend him have recently attempted to use two specific claims in an attempt to show his innocence. These are identical to those that I’ve often heard from those defending a child molester.

As such, I will be addressing these two defenses when applied to child molesters.

Here are the claims:

  1. “But look how righteous this person is. Look at all the charitable work he does, etc. Obviously someone like this could never harm a child.”

  2. “Granted X number of children are accusing him of wrongdoing, but we have three times as many children who insist that he never did anything wrong to them”

The first claim is based upon the incorrect perception that evil people are completely evil and that good people are completely good. The fact that a person is charitable with their money has no bearing as to whether or not they are a child molester (or wife beater, rapist, hacker or anything else for that matter). On some occasions the abuser will even use kindness as a means towards grooming the community that they, the abuser, is incapable of doing such horrific acts. 

In short, you never really know what is going on with a person. The fact that they “check the good boxes” in one area doesn’t mean they check ALL the “good boxes”.

As misguided as the first claim is, it is the second claim that really gets my blood boiling.

First of all, it assumes that the other children are being truthful when claiming they weren’t abused. Despite the fact that their friends had the courage to come forward, they might not be ready for that yet.

But even if all the other children are truthful while claiming that they weren’t abused sexually, why is their not being abused a proof that the ones claiming abuse must be lying?


There is this misnomer that a child sexual abuser will abuse every single child that they have access to. In the majority of cases, this is a complete falsehood. Some choose the kids who are least likely to get them into trouble. Some have a specific type of child that they prefer. Others mindfully won’t abuse a handful of children just so that they’ll have access to this very claim!


When discussing this very topic with people, I’ll ask them bluntly: “ If you are stuck in an elevator with a member of the other gender, and you don’t kiss them, does that prove you aren’t a heterosexual?”


Obviously it proves nothing.

Just like the kids who claim that the abusers didn’t abuse them proves nothing regarding the claims of abuse made by the other children.

The sooner we as a society can rid ourselves of these myths about child sex abuse and those who perpetrate these unspeakable acts, the better we can protect our children.


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


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Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Dose Makes the Poison

 “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.”


― Paracelsus


pills.jpg

I love a good quote. 


This is evident from the fact that I always start my articles with a quote.


But why do I love quotes so much?


One of the reasons is because a good quote is able to take a detailed principle and encapsulate it into a few select words. 


For example, I could write about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how people with minimal skills think that their skills can solve all, whilst those with more skills can more easily recognize when they lack the ability to solve the issue. Or I can make that all very succinct by quoting “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.


I recently heard a quote for the very first time, and this quote made my jaw drop.


“The dose makes the poison”.


This quote is golden. If people could only properly incorporate it into their mindset, things would be much better. 


Very few things are “bad”, the issue is when they are used too much. 


There is no problem taking time for yourself, the problem lies in the dosage.


Should you be trusting or skeptical? The dose will make the poison.


Life is about finding a balance. 


The work/family balance.


The juggling between when to take risks and when to be cautious.


When I heard this quote from a doctor, he was using it in the context of food. That even excess of a single “healthy” food can be poisonous if consumed in extreme excess. 


So too with our behaviors.


So too with our choices.


So too with our thought processes. 


We too often focus on “right vs. wrong”. 


Things aren’t so black and white. 


It isn’t wrong to think about oneself, to do something for oneself.


Like with everything else, it is all in the dosage.



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

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Fear Factor

 “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

— Aristotle


This is an article that I am writing to an audience of one.

 

I am my own audience.

 

I’m saying this because I need to hear it.

 

The Gemara in Gittin says that a person shouldn’t impose אימה יתירה (added fear) in their home.

 

Note, the issue is not fear, it is “added fear” (fear in this context meaning consequences).

 

While the Gemara is speaking about situations between husband and wife, it also applies to the parent/child relationship.

 

Each parent has their own set of rules that their child needs to follow. There should be consequences for broken rules (this is the fear that is considered acceptable). However, a child should never be in a situation where they fear the consequences so much that they will do something illegal and/or dangerous in an attempt to avoid breaking the rule (or to cover up the fact that they broke the rule).

 

Here is an example:

George is 17 and asks to borrow mom’s car. Mom tells him he can, but he must return the car by 9pm because she absolutely needs it by then. George goes out and gets drunk enough that he is legally impaired from driving. George sees that it is getting close to 9pm, he has two choices, he can either drive drunk and over the speed limit to get home on time, or he can call mom and figure out an alternative arrangement.

 

If there is added fear of the punishment that mom will give, George might decide to risk the speeding and driving while intoxicated in an effort to avoid mom’s wrath at his being home late.

 

This is the type of added fear that the Gemara is talking about.

 

This also applies to cases of child sexual abuse as well.

 

Often the child will decide not to disclose the abuse to the parent out of concern that they will be punished for it.

 

Proactivity is key.

 

Once your child starts driving, tell them that if alcohol is consumed that they cannot drive, PERIOD.

Explain to them that if they admit it prior, they won’t lose any driving privileges for saying the truth.

That their lives and the lives of others are more important.

 

Ditto for abuse.

 

When you speak with your child about child safety, tell them that they can always come and tell you.

Tell them that the safety rules are there to protect them, but if they get harmed, they will not get punished, even if the abuse was because they ignored a safety rule.

 

We often try to see things as black and white. But this is a shade of gray.

 

Raising a child without consequences for wrongdoings is incorrect.

Raising a child with too many (or too strict) consequences is also wrong.

 

It is a balance that will need to be judged differently for each case.

 

But the important point is that the child should know that they WILL be judged and they will be judged favorably when they ultimately make the right choice, even when it comes due to because they previously make a singular (or series of) wrong choices.


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


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Monday, February 15, 2021

Practice Won't Prevent Mistakes

 “In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is.”

- Jan van de Snepscheut

 



 There is theory and there are real life situations.

 

We can learn what to do in a specific event.

 

We can be told how to handle a specific case.

 

We can roleplay what to do when certain things occur.

 

These lessons, while important, don't always translate into real-world situations.

 

Meaning that people won’t always apply these learned skills to their appropriate situations.

 

The examples of this are plentiful.

 

The singer who forgets the words to her song.

 

The actor who forgets his lines.

 

They knew what they were supposed to do “in theory” but when it came to “practice” they couldn’t do it.

 

They know what they should do, they just couldn’t do it at that moment.

 

There is also the story of Brandon Bostick. Brandon was a player on the Green Bay Packers.

His job was to block the opponents, and allow the man behind him to get the ball during an onside kick.

 

He was taught this during the many team meetings that they had.

 

He practiced this during the team kickoff drills.

 

He was coached constantly on this point.

 

Yet when it came time to put his lessons into practice (with 2 minutes left in the conference championship game), he wasn’t able to successfully transfer his learning into practice. Instead, he saw the ball and he tried to catch the ball rather than block his opponent. He missed the ball, allowing the other team to gain possession. Brandon’s team lost the lead, and eventually the game.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6aIKpam2xI

 

Why am I mentioning this?

 

To illustrate an inherent flaw as to how we are protecting our children.

 

Singers practice their songs dozens, if not hundreds of times.

 

Actors rehearse for hours.

 

Football players practice over the course of many weeks and months.

 

Nevertheless, they still will make fundamental mistakes.

 

(And if you ask them about it, their reply would be “I know”. Unfortunately, “I know” doesn”t always translate into “I did what I was supposed to do”)

 

They would make many more mistakes without the practice, yet their lessons and practices don't prevent them from making mistakes.

 

When it comes to child safety, parents believe that speaking to their child once or twice in TOTAL will enable their child to recognize dangerous people and give them the tools to say “no” at the appropriate time.

 

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

 

Child sexual abusers are skilled manipulators. They are very good at their craft.

 

It is wishful thinking to think that your child will remember the conversation from years ago and apply it when being groomed.

 

So what should parents do?

 

Two things

 

1. Parents should have sexual abuse prevention discussions at least once every two months with their child. Parents should make sure that there are open lines of communication and that the child feels comfortable sharing difficult and painful topics with the parent.

2. Using the football play as the example, it is easy to say that Brandon Bostick lost the game. But the reality is that the team should not have been in that situation in the first place. Likewise, as a community, we need to make sure (as best we can) that pedophiles and child abusers stay as far away from children as possible. We need to make sure we know who are the registered sex offenders in our area, and we need to make sure that they don’t have access to our children. Anyone who says that such offenders pose no risk because the children know how to handle the situation is either naive, misguided or just plain stupid.

 

Education is one aspect of child sex abuse prevention. It is an important and essential aspect, but it is by no means exclusive. Believing that education is sufficient is what caused the Green Bay Packers to miss a trip to the Super Bowl.

 

While it cost the Packers a trip to the big game, it is also costing millions of children a fate much worse than that.

 

Anyone who is putting the onus of protecting a child upon that child’s shoulders is causing them to carry a burden that most children cannot bear.

 

 

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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