• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Time to Flip the Script

Updated: Apr 16


For as long as I can remember, our goal has been equality for women. Well, wait, or is it equality for all? Oh yes, it is human rights. Our goal is to protect human rights. And in many cases, give them to populations who are not receiving them.


So, how is that going for us? When I say us, I mean all of humanity. I mean, really, the internet and smartphones have really created what feels like a borderless reality.


At this point in my life, my Facebook feed shares with me news and stories in at least 7 different languages, many I can only identify based on the location of the friend from which the post was written.


But back to the question. How is this going for us? Well, in many places, not so well. In others, yes, there is change but certainly not as fast as we would like to see it.


What I can tell you is that when countries and governments want to change things, changes happen. Just look at cigarette smoking. For about only 20 years ago or so, non-smokers needed to put up with smoking at work, in public buildings, restaurants, even airplanes.


Between research, science, and public campaigning, in many of the countries that I have visited over the last 5 years, this is no longer so. And children today are being educated into that reality.


What would that look like if we decided to flip the script of sexual assault? Rather than shaming victims, we support them? Rather than defending the accused with every excuse in the book, we make them feel uncomfortable for their actions?


What would that look like if we decided to flip the script of sexual assault? Rather than shaming victims, we support them?

Over the past two years, I have added a new argument for why we should be investing in teaching all children primary violence prevention. In other words, what to do at the moment you are not happy with how you are being treated, who to tell if you need help, and paired with the physical, emotional, and verbal skills to navigate the world more safely.


My argument - the reason we absolutely need to change the script - is that what we can never change is fair prosecution. The problem with fair prosecution is that the accuser or prosecution needs to bring a burden of proof that shows without a shadow of a doubt that the accused did commit the crime.


In many cases of sexual assault, especially of children, this type of evidence just doesn’t exist, either because the crimes were committed years before, or because the assailant was careful to leave no evidence, because of thousands of other reasons.


Another thing I have learned over the past 15 years, is that if it is profitable, whether or not it is illegal, someone will create the opportunity to make that money. Look at the porn industry, or sex trafficking, drug dealing, and gang violence.


How do we protect our kids from these types of predators too? They can only succeed if they can recruit.



So, what if the goal was gender-neutral education? What would that look like? What if we explored how children should be taught to use their voices and their indomitable spirits to stand up for the person they want to be when they grow up? What if all children were not only given equal opportunities but were treated with respect as equals?


Part of what that would mean to me is that we make sure that our little girls don’t lose their “fight” and their voices in the process of growing up and that our boys don’t disconnect from their “freeze” and vulnerability, because those too are legitimate and important human emotions and reactions.


What if all children, no matter their age, were taught to both set and respect boundaries, understand rules of consent and body autonomy, and learn what to do if someone breaks those rules?


What if all children, no matter their age, were taught to both set and respect boundaries, understand rules of consent and body autonomy, and learn what to do if someone breaks those rules?

That is the goal of Empowerment Self Defense. Honestly, we are all born with survival skills.



Yet, somehow, we have created cultures that destroy them in many portions of society, and/or supercharge them in other portions.


By doing this, we are educating for inequality.


Maybe that made sense two or three thousand years ago but it doesn’t anymore, and we need to fix that.


Join us in February for the 1st International Violence Prevention Education Conference.


Come experience how we could be doing education better for all.