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Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)
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Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,355 ratings  ·  395 reviews
Safety skills for children outside the home
Warning signs of sexual abuse
How to screen baby-sitters and choose schools
Strategies for keeping teenagers safe from violence

All parents face the same challenges when it comes to their children's safety: whom to trust, whom to distrust, what to believe, what to doubt, what to fear, and what not to fear. In this empowering book,
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 9th 2000 by Dell (first published 1999)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,355 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

My sister in law bought me this as a Christmas gift when I was pregnant with my daughter. I will admit that at the time I was a bit surprised by the gift as I was very pregnant and SUPER emotional. However, when I did read it I appreciated the fact that she bought it for me.

I found it very interesting and I learned a great deal.

Some of the main issues:
Safety skills for children outside the home
Warning signs of sexual abuse
How to screen baby-sitters and choose schools
Strategies for keep
Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Right after reading this book, I went for a walk with my toddler, during which four strangers struck up conversations with us. Several of them probably would have set off many people's "uh-oh" alarms, like the scruffy-looking homeless guy pushing a shopping cart. All of them were really sweet and kind, had a short conversation with me and my child, and then moved on. Which leads to my point about this book: I appreciated the author's premise that we should trust our intuition about safety and sh ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, community members
Not an easy read, but important. So glad I went ahead. This book made me think about my own levels of "politeness" as a female and whether sometimes I should err on the side of impoliteness, bitchiness be damned.

It's interesting to think of the different reaction I might have had to the annoying magazine seller in the Target parking lot who approached me and my baby had I read this book before I met him instead of after. I'm sure he was harmless, but I think I would have cut off the encounter qu
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
a must read for every woman and every parent. some of the stuff he says is obvious and intuitive, and yet we need to hear it again because we tend to get comfortable with the inherent danger in all situations. i especially like how he constantly asserts that we have the inherent intuition (i like to call it the Holy Spirit) to read the subtle clues around us and be alert to potential danger situations. it's true that people, especially women, are abducted and molested in broad daylight, by famil ...more
Tanya W
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This seems like a must read for parents of both boys and girls... has practical tips for keeping children/youth safe (from sexual abuse, injury or death from guns, stranger kidnapping, and more). I wish I could find the book to note some other specifics for future reference... so more to come later...

A few I can think of now:
1) Don't emphasize not talking to strangers as much as teaching children who they should talk to if they need help (a woman, not a man).

2)Teach them what to say and do if so
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, caregivers
This book helped me recognize the value of following my instincts - in ANY kind of potentially dangerous situation, though it was focused on the situations surrounding children. It may seem like it would plant fears into the reader, but for me, it did just the opposite. He gave me plenty of info to allow me the freedom to celebrate fear and it's purpose, in dangerous situations, while recognizing when unfounded fears can cause unnecessary spin. He also provided some games to play with kids that ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to, parenting
Easy-to-read book on hard-to-face subject. I appreciate that the author takes care to emphasize where victims/survivors took action, even while pointing out how they might have escaped injury/victimization by acting differently earlier in the encounter. I also like the concern he shows for teaching violence prevention as a way of helping people be less anxious and more open generally.

He talks about some of the myriad reasons we--the big society We--tolerate violence and fail to see it. He does n
Apr 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book was so weird. It had one really useful chapter on teaching your child what to do if he or she becomes lost, and then the rest was a combination of scary stories and the ravings of an paranoid individual. And I'm a pretty neurotic parent. I also don't buy the "If someone make you uncomfortable, they are probably evil, and your fears are justified" concept. It completely ignores the reality of racism in America, for one thing.

A mixed bag - some concrete, helpful advice (though some of it repeated from The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence), mixed in with a lot of biological determinism and gender essentialism (testosterone makes you violent! a woman will always put more effort into helping a lost child than a man will!). I don't even necessarily disagree with the advice that a lost child should try to avoid asking (people who present as) men for help (most men are not child predators, but m ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
When deciding whether to read Gavin de Becker’s “Protecting the Gift,” parents face one question: will the information he provides increase your child’s safety enough to justify the traumatic experience of reading about the world’s predators? The answer depends at least in part on one’s personality. I saw danger lurking around every corner for only a few days after finishing the book, and then settled back into my largely apprehension-free steady state - only now empowered by the practical tips ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some very difficult subjects, but GDB handles them extremely well. His advice is for the most part accessible and practical. What I really appreciated was that with some of the taboo subjects he just tackled them head on, in a balanced and non-alarmist way.

As with The Gift of Fear the author talks a lot about relying on the messages you send yourself, your intuition. This is an empowering message which I found useful.

As it is now 20 years old there is virtually nothing about online safety which
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mary Ann, Jessica, Everyone!
Recommended to Missy by: Alicia Hall
Shelves: parenting
This book is changing my life! I knew it would be good, but I didn't know it would read like a thriller...The first pages, anyway. :) I recommend it to every parent everywhere. And also to anyone who knows kids. Seriously, I bring it up in conversations frequently.

Now that I've finished, here's what I want to note:

We already have what what is necessary to protect ourselves and our kids. It is the whispers of intution. We need to listen more to our wild brain, which is unfettered by emotion, pol
Jessica Reynolds
The Gift of Fear is a book that I feel every person (especially women) should read. Mandatory. Full stop.
This book should be required reading for parents.
Politeness can kill you. Teaching your kids to be polite no matter what could cost them everything. Humans are animals and we were created with survival instincts and incredible intuition that can keep us alive in dangerous situations. We just need to stop letting denial, false reasoning, and politeness get in the way of the animal instinct.
Jeff Yoak
I picked this up because I liked The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence. This book was fine, but didn't really add a lot to the previous book.
Pablo Ortiz monasterio ruffo
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Been doing security for 20 years, this is by far the best book I’ve read on the subject. This man is a genius in the way he explains things.
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great compendium of information for parents to keep their kids of all ages safe. I was a little dubious at the very first, I wasn't sure of the author's voice and felt a little like I was getting pulled over with a stern warning, but that passed quickly and Gavin de Becker's generous openness about his own abusive upbringing is actually a great part of why I loved this book. He also does an awesome job of incorporating an interesting variety of real life stories of people he has actually worked ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
De Becker writes that fear is a gift: it's that intuitive voice--gut feeling, hunch--that helps us recognize a potential threat and stay safe. As with most things in life, you want a balance: too little fear, and we miss out on warning signals that can keep us safe; too much fear, and we'll never know what is really a threat and what isn't.

De Becker's book achieves this balance masterfully. He doesn't shy away from painful and fear-inducing topics, but they are tempered with real world statistic
May 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I'm surprised at all the high praise for this book. I had a rough time getting through it because I was so bored. Especially in the beginning, I thought the writing was disorganized and could have been condensed quite a bit. Also, this book was written almost 20 years ago, so the book just felt outdated the whole time while I was reading it. At the same time, I realize that the statistics are probably even worse today.

However, I ended up giving it an extra star because I did take some things awa
Sherry Elmer
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parents, PLEASE read this book!

You probably won't "want" to read it. I certainly didn't. But, as author Gavin de Becker says, denial is not a good defensive strategy. There are real dangers to our children. Learning what these are, and more importantly, learning what to do to reduce the risks, is an important task for parents and for anyone who loves children.

When I first started reading Protecting the Gift, I felt more worried than ever at the dangers lurking "out there." By the time I'd fin
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I say I read the book, but I really skimmed it for the most part.....There were too many horrid examples of abuse and bad situations kids were in, that I really didn't need to read. I know bad things happen to kids....I am trying to make sure that doesn't happen to my kids but it doesn't mean I need to read a ton of awful in depth stories about bad things that happen to kids! Way to make me worry more than I already do!

Now there were some things I pulled from this book and worry is one of those
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this book. Teach kids -- and yourself -- about human nature. Practical advice, smart writing, by a man who was once a neglected child. He's now a criminal profiler.

I spent years in the public arena working on a law designed to ferret out sex predators. The stuff I came across was unbelievable. If you don't think your kid can get trapped by a predator, you're naive. General example: Man approaches kid with some urgency, looking for lost kitten in the woods! Please help! Now
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
As a future teacher, I tend to pick up the occasional book about parenting (since it's useful to understand a few different perspectives about kids).
This is one of the better childcare/parenting/teaching related books I've read. Instead of focusing on all of the bad things that COULD happen to a child who isn't constantly supervised, de Becker recommends a simple idea: teach children how to take care of themselves.
One of de Becker's focal points is trusting intuition, or that feeling that somet
Apr 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Although I'm a worrier, this book did not unduly upset me. I was already aware of the dangers that children face in our society because I am determined not to be what de Becker calls a "denier": someone who says, "Oh, that couldn't happen to my child. We only know 'nice' people." As the daughter of a pastor who has counseled many victims of violence, I know better than that. So I was looking for ways to minimize the possibility that my children (or I) will be victimized, and this book was very h ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A **must read** for all parents. Concrete, step by step information on how to keep children safe by trusting your intuition and facing reality. This book really tells it like it is, with no politically correct crap: for example, the book says that male security guards should not be the first, safe choice for children who are lost; that you should actually ask a potential babysitter if he/she has harmed a child, since that's really what you want to know; and that assuming that your neighbor's bab ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it liked it
My favorite chapter was called "Worry." I think I'll re-read that chapter before I return it to the library, b/c it said a lot of things that I'd never thought of before that are relevant to my life, since I'm a big worrier. It is basically about the vital importance of trusting your instincts to tell you when a person is dangerous. He says that when you are worried about something, you need to ask yourself if the threat is caused by something you observed in your current surroundings (someone, ...more
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic and empowering for parents to separate the real dangers children face from the fiction the media presents. Most dangerous predators are close to home, not strangers, and they have tactics that are easy to recognize if you know what they are.

I also wish every preteen and teenage girl would read this book, or that her parents would talk to her about the information presented. I certainly wish I'd had access to it when I was growing up. All too often girls are taught to "be n
Austen to Zafón
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book in one evening and found it valuable and empowering. I got to skip over all the chapters that had to do with school and daycares, since we're learning at home, but the rest was certainly applicable. While many of the stories he uses as examples were heartbreaking (I totally could not read the section on parents abusing infants), his ideas for what you can *do* are terrific. And he debunks many of the common things we've all grown up believing in, like "stranger danger" or findin ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very informative book...I would recommend this book to anyone who is concerned with child predators or keeping your children safe by being aware of the dangers out there. I really liked that this boom focused on the intuition that we as humans are all equipped with, and in particular the "momma bear" instinct. I know that as long as my rationalizations didn't get in the way, I would be that momma bear who would take on any danger and do whatever was necessary to protect my kids. This book had so ...more
Protecting the Gift is such a great find! I feel very well-informed and empowered regarding how I can protect myself and my children and teach them to protect themselves, too. I like the author’s discussion of social issues that affect how we, as women, fail to be as assertive as we should. I also found fascinating his descriptions of our intuition and the value of tuning into it. I found incredibly helpful his breakdowns of predator types, the chart listing the Test of Twelve, and other importa ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
In my opinion, about 20% of this book is truly helpful information - questions to ask your child's babysitter or school, tips for noticing forceful or manipulative behavior, etc. The other 80% of this book consists of terrifying stories or (again, in my opinion) extremely examples to prove points. I didn't find it helpful and skipped or skimmed most of the stories. I wish he would have stuck to more practical examples, more commonly found in our daily lives. It is worth skimming though because t ...more
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Gavin de Becker is an expert on the prediction and management of violence. He has served on President's Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Governor's Advisory Board at the California Department of Mental Health; he now runs a consulting firm which advises government agencies, universities, police departments, corporations, and media figures on the assessment of threats and ha ...more

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