• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Preventing Violence? Interrupting Violence. Ending Violence?


Preventing violence. Interrupting violence. Ending violence. Does the terminology matter?


It’s so easy - and tempting - to say that we will stop or put an end to violence. It’s what we all want. Right?


It’s so easy - and tempting - to say that we will stop or put an end to violence. It’s what we all want. Right?

So I hate to say it. But…. Honestly? The idea of ending violence doesn’t seem realistic to me.


Yes. I said it.


Let me explain.


Imagine a forest fire.


We can prevent or reduce the number of forest fires. We can take care of our environment and take climate change seriously. We can provide education about fire safety. We can maintain the health of our forests.

We can prevent or reduce the number of forest fires. We can take care of our environment and take climate change seriously. We can provide education about fire safety. We can maintain the health of our forests.


We can pour water on sparks or find other ways to stop or interrupt fires before they’re out of control.

But end them?


Think about it. Why does Smokey Bear say, “Only you can prevent forest fires?” Because he knows that ending them all together is a beautiful idea but an unattainable goal. Mainly, because there are things outside of our control. Ie. Lightening. Or sun reflecting on a piece of shattered mirror that heats dead leaves. 


We may not be able to put an end to forest fires. Or hurricanes. Or earthquakes.


But we can do everything in our power to be prepared and learn to keep the harm and damage to a minimum.


Now let’s apply that same idea to violence prevention. I can’t control another person’s behavior. I can react to it. Stand up to it. Defend myself.


So, while it is a wonderful idea to educate people not to commit violence, like we educate people not to steal, believing that we can end it altogether is a bit unrealistic.


Teaching people to defend themselves. Teaching people not to be violent. Giving everyone the tools and skills they need to both behave appropriately in the world...

And yet, a good plan is to be doing all of that. Teaching people to defend themselves. Teaching people not to be violent. Giving everyone the tools and skills they need to both behave appropriately in the world, and to respond to behavior that is not appropriate.


Make sense?