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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile read but quite US-centric, 2 April 2014
This review is from: Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) (Paperback)
I'd read The Gift of Fear a while ago and found it interesting, and with the first of my children reaching the age where safety issues are starting to become relevant, I decided to see what Gavin De Becker had to say on the subject. Overall I find his approach much more useful than much of the commonly regurgitated 'stranger danger' type advice.

The first few chapters don't contain anything that isn't in The Gift of Fear, but were a reminder to me that people's access to children is often via their parents and thus the importance of me recognising the common patterns and being aware of my gut instincts.

There are then a couple of useful chapters about what to tell children to do if they are lost, the topic of talking to strangers and 'The Test of Twelve' - a list of things a child needs to know to be capable on their own. It mentions several American programs for educating children on these topics but without giving details of what they actually teach which is mildly frustrating as I'd have liked more detail.

The next two chapters are about finding substitute care. Some of this is only relevant to the US, but there are some useful questions to ask if you are interviewing baby-sitters, nannies or nurseries. These are followed by a chapter on 'Sexual Predators' which mostly reiterates previous content and has a long section on choosing a pediatrician, obviously not applicable in the UK, and a chapter on 'Children in School', which again has some useful questions to ask, but is quite US-specific much of the time (ha, I think if I went into prospective primary schools here asking about guns, they'd think I were bonkers).

We then move onto teenagers - with one chapter on girls which I imagine would be interesting if you have daughters, another on boys and a final one on teen violence both of which focus so much on guns as to not really have any relevance here.

The book ends with a chapter on domestic violence which obviously won't be of direct use for most people (but may be extremely valuable for anybody who is in that situation) and another on the US-equivalent of social services.

Overall, since I'd already read The Gift of Fear, there were only a couple of chapters that were really that useful to me plus the lists of questions to ask nurseries, schools etc. However, the book overall was still an interesting read and it was worth reading for those chapters. If you haven't read The Gift of Fear the I'd definitely recommend it. If you haven't, I'd suggest getting a copy from a library to skim through rather than buying it.
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