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Press Pause!

The toughest thing about being a parent is to accept that we can’t really protect our kids.


Our Teen Program Partners 

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Press Pause!

The toughest thing about being a parent is to accept that we can’t really protect our kids.


Life has a habit of happening to them no matter how much life experience we try to impart. Every generation of parents has probably felt that way. And with the pace of change reaching speeds our parents and grandparents could barely imagine, the Protection Gap between parents and kids has grown wider and wider.


We can still reach back into our well of experiences to help our kids manage the day-to-day risks we faced as kids: crossing the street, taking a swim or spending too much time in the sun. ​

But how do we guide them through the morass of challenges to their health and happiness of today’s world: the complexities of sexual harassment, bullying, “micro-aggressions”, peer pressure, sexualized games and the challenges of managing consent, unwanted touch, cyberbullying, and violence in all its forms?

Here’s How

Practically all of us can remember instances from our teen years in which we felt threatened, embarrassed or putdown by someone. We tend to recall these situations as if they were pictures or maybe a series of snapshots. However, when we really let ourselves think through what happened, we usually see that these incidents are more like videos than stills. We see openings, patterns and choices that ebb and flow. Maybe it started with a discomforting look, uncomfortable physical closeness, or having our personal boundaries ignored. The distance from there to unwanted touch or, worse, verbal, emotional or even physical violence is unnervingly small.


In our workshops, our participants learn how to PRESS PAUSE, to stop things before they escalate, by practicing personal safety strategies:

- Maintaining awareness

- Identifying warning signs

- Mapping out their “red lines”

- Setting and maintaining safe, healthy personal boundaries

- Using clear, assertive body language and speaking tone

- Understanding the dynamics of aggression and violence

- Practicing calm in the face of fear

- Discovering their Inner Voice and making it heard

- Cultivating networks of safety and support



Studies indicate that more than 80% of the time, the use of these kind of strategies can enable us to identify potentially dangerous incidents and STOP THEM before they escalate.


Should the situation escalate into physical or sexual assault, our students are prepared. We teach teens physical techniques and then enable them to practice them in simulated “attack” situations so, if their “softer skills” don’t help, they can use 100% of their physical power and spirit to create openings, get out and get help.


​Our teen girls learn techniques adapted to the strengths of the female body vs. the natural weaknesses of the male physique. Our teen boys learn techniques that help them end conflicts quickly and get out safely.


We begin with situations that are more black-and-white by addressing situations with strangers. Then, we enter that complexity of situations with “familiars” (friends, dates, teachers, coaches, etc.), keeping in mind that, statistically, 83% of personal violence is perpetrated by people we know. And we practice strategies for dealing with “micro-aggressions”: putdowns, “shut downs” and manipulations.

Our seminars expand the boundaries of personal safety to include essential Life Skills for making safe and healthy choices: healthy sexuality, communicating consent, and conflict, skills that our students can use throughout their lives to enjoy the freedom they want and the safety they deserve.

Evidence-Based Learning


Our teaching method includes practicing techniques through taking part in true-to-life simulations. During simulations, they are never alone. One instructor/coach guides and advises while another instructor/coach plays the role of the aggressor. Sometimes, in order to help each student embody the full range of their skills, the “aggressor” chooses to escalate to a physical conflict despite the student’s best efforts to diffuse the situation. We keep our instructors/coaches safe by outfitting them with special equipment designed to safely absorb the full-power blows they receive.


This methodology, first developed in the US, has been studied for more than 40 years. In comparison with other teaching methods, most often using a single instructor and no full-power simulations, this methodology has been found to be significantly more effective in helping graduates to FREEZE LESS and TAKE ACTION MORE. In addition, participants in these kinds of courses report increases in their sense of self-worth, self-confidence, body image and self-efficacy.


Our 5 Guidelines for Working Safely & Effectively with Teens


  1. We provide information that is accurate and relevant to teens together with opportunities to use their skills effectively without exposing them to material that is inappropriate to their ages or ways of life.

  2. We adjust our materials and teaching methods to the varied energies and sensitivities of teen boys and girls and take into consideration both group and individual stages of development. Whenever possible, we separate groups by age: 11-13, 14-16 and 17-19.

  3. We work with both teen boys and teen girls, but not together. We recognize that, while boys and girls at these ages may face similar challenges, the differences in the dynamics of their interactions means that they often need to employ very different safety strategies. We also find that teens of both genders benefit from the safety of separate spaces in which to analysis how they are impacted by societal preconceptions about femininity and masculinity and by gender roles and expectations.

  4. We invest the time and energy to ensure that our teaching is clear and direct, to earn the trust of our students and to build and sustain a safe, mutually-supportive atmosphere in the group so students feel free to share their fears, concerns and life experiences.

  5. We don’t build walls; we open doors: We assist each participant in discovering their own physical, verbal, mental, emotional and spiritual strengths and offer personal safety strategies that meet them where they are. All this takes places in a positive and empowering atmosphere to enable them to break through internal obstacles and connect to their strengths and capabilities.

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