• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Time to Flip the Script



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, especially in vulnerable populations.


So, how is that going for us?


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.

What I can tell you is that when countries and governments want to change things, changes happen.


Just look at cigarette smoking. As recently as twenty years ago, non-smokers needed to put up with smoking at work, in public buildings, restaurants, and even airplanes.


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


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



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

Over the past few years, I have added to that argument with an explanation of why we should be investing in teaching all children primary violence prevention, or what to do the moment they decide are not happy with how they are being treated, and who to turn to for help.


Of course, this type of education includes physical, emotional, and verbal skills that allow them to navigate the world more safely.


Here's another reason why this is important. We can change educational systems, but what we can't 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 actually committed 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, or because of thousands of other reasons.


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


How do we protect our kids from these types of predators too? We need to keep in mind that predators can only succeed if they can recruit.



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?


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 instinct to freeze and their 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 those skills 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.


Last February, the very first International Conference on Violence Prevention Education (VPEC) took place at the El HaLev Violence Prevention Center in Jerusalem.


The group of attendees and presenters included dozens of renowned experts in the fields of education, psychology, social work, and Empowerment Self Defense, representing Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and The Middle East.


The conference was an opportunity to establish contacts, form international relations, and exchange knowledge of the innovative approaches to preventing violence that have emerged in recent decades.


Many of the attendees are already working hard to bring violence prevention education programs to their communities, and provide the education I've described.



We hope you'll join us in Prague in October 2021 to help us keep this important conversation going.


Come be part of the change we need for a better, brighter, and safer future.


Together, we can and we will #FlipTheScript.


Yehudit (Yudit) Zicklin-Sidikman, founder and president of ESD Global Inc., a non-profit organization, is a speaker, thought leader, and educator on Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) with over 20 years of experience in the field. She holds a fourth-degree blackbelt in Judo and holds an MBA with a focus on psychology.


Yehudit is committed to making Empowerment Self Defense training accessible world-wide. She is also co-founder of El HaLev, an award-winning Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to providing Empowerment Self Defense and martial arts training to thousands of women and girls, and is the director of IMPACT Self Defense in Israel.


​ESD Global Inc. and El HaLev are excited and proud to join forces and sponsor the Violence Prevention Education Conference.

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