Lillian Liberman Shkolnikoff
This profile was prepared when Lillian Liberman Shkolnikoff was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Lilian has developed a model for educating and sensitizing people to the taboo subject of sexual abuse and physical mistreatment of children. Through the organization she created called Yaocíhuatl (meaning woman warrior), Lilian combines the production of high-quality educational videos dealing with child abuse with a therapeutic model for structured discussions that help parents, children and educators detect, prevent and treat cases of abuse. Lilian trains facilitators to present the videos and provide guidance in follow up sessions to help positively channel people's reactions to the content. Facilitators rely on a network Yaocíhuatl constructed of civil society organizations and government agencies which deal with violence against children to refer children and adults to the appropriate professionals and provide follow though for cases of extreme abuse. Yaocíhuatl videos and discussions seek to increase individual and group awareness about abuse, while providing vehicles which allow people to identify abusive situations (be they victims or abusers), bring an end to the violence and prevent its replication. Lilian is creating spaces for dialogue about the long-ignored subject of child abuse within the formal educational and health systems in Mexico by using Yaocíhuatl's alliances with government ministries and the social sector as the primary vehicle for disseminating the videos and training programs. Other initiatives to confront child abuse have tended to have a local/individual focus with a reactive approach to provide services to victims of abuse. In contrast, Lilian is joining her educational/preventative approach to child abuse with an aggressive spread strategy to provoke the profound attitudinal change needed to end patterns of sexual abuse and mistreatment affecting children, adolescents and adults.