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A Difficult Topic – Two Useful Tools

This weekend I got an e-mail alert, for Oprah’s show this Monday, April 12. Lisa Ling travels to an isolated island. Not for scenery, or a restaurant, or a spiritual retreat. This trip is to a place where hundreds of sex predators live. Oprah Show – Most Dangerous Offenders in America

My heart dropped. I’m a single mother to a teenage girl. Over this past summer of 2009, we attended a birthday party. A man came up to my daughter, while she was sitting next to me, and offered her a beer. He didn’t speak to me, except to mumble an apology as he quickly backed away when I screamed “SHE’S ONLY THIRTEEN!”

Every mother, of course, thinks her child is beautiful. Well, call me immodest because I believe my daughter is an exotic beauty. Her caramel skin, hazel eyes and kinky brown hair make her easy to spot in a crowd, as if being taller than most kids in her grade weren’t enough. This is only a slight step down from when she was the tallest kid in school – the school went to fifth grade and in third grade she was the tallest of all students.

What to do? Tell my daughter don’t talk to strangers, program her cellphone with every nearby relative on speed dial, sign her up for self-defense classes? I’m not athletically inclined, so the thought of flying kicks makes me nervous. Practicing at home would be difficult at the least.

I had my daughter read Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker. This book goes beyond avoiding strangers, to help parents teach their children how to stay safe in different situations. It happens way too often – police officers are accused of crimes, caregivers are negligent or abusive, classmates pressure each other to do things. In Protecting the Gift, anecdotes are shared by survivors who would have otherwise been victims. The mother who fought off an intruder while holding an infant on her hip, is only one example.

Years ago I read The Gift of Fear, also by Gavin DeBecker. That book reinforced something I had suspected for a long time but had never been able to voice correctly. Gut reactions are perfectly valid reasons to avoid a certain location or person. The nice guy who won’t take no for an answer could be a potential stalker. He could also be a nice guy – so where is the line? When my daughter got to middle school and had to travel further each day, I had her read The Gift of Fear.

In both books Mr. DeBecker discusses strategies used by offenders, such as forced teaming – we gotta go feed that hungry cat and ignoring NO – very simply, insisting until you give in. He offers counter-attacks to avoid becoming a statistic. These books have been invaluable to me and to my daughter. If I hadn’t been at her side when that man – a stranger no less – offered her a beer, she would have refused it. Any further offers would have prompted her to get up and find our hostess, embarrassing him and further exposing him to angry relatives or the police. My daughter has her checklist every day before leaving for school. Bookbag, keys, phone, lunch, lip gloss. I feel better knowing she has learned some tough lessons from Gavin DeBecker’s books, instead of first-hand experience.

I wrote to Mr. DeBecker, thanking him for putting his skills within reach of civilians. He has, after all, consulted with government agencies to implement security protocols, responded to celebrity concerns about overzealous fans, and created eight different versions of the Mosaic Threat Assessment System. Add to this, the books, articles and personal appearances on shows such as Oprah and try to imagine my reaction when Mr. DeBecker sent me two autographed books. One each, The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift. These books are consistent best-sellers, because they deal with situations and issues every adult or parent has to handle every day. You can win the book of your choice.

Methods of Entry

Method of Entry #1 – Share a personal safety tip in a comment.
Method of Entry #2 – Share a story of a dangerous situation you handled.
Method of Entry #3 – Follow me on twitter, leave a comment so it counts as an entry.

Terms and Conditions

Two winner will be selected on or about May 7, 2010.
One winner selected will receive an autographed copy of  The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.
One winner selected will receive an autographed copy of Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker.
Book will be shipped (with tracking fees paid) via United States Postal Service, after winner is confirmed via e-mail.
Please see Giveaway and Contest Rules for other rules which apply to this drawing.

DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by the author, Gavin DeBecker, for this giveaway at no cost to me.

7 thoughts on “A Difficult Topic – Two Useful Tools

  1. Hi Ofelia,
    Boy do you have my attention. From the moment I began to read this post I was intrigued. As you described these 2 books, I thought to myslef “I need to ge them.” But as I continued to read the last thing I thought was a giveaway. Wow, I would love to win one of these books. If I don’t, they will be sure to join my library one way or the other. Thank you for the very useful info. From mother to mother.

    I am a follower of yours on Twitter. @rachlwhite
    -Rachel

  2. These books sound wonderful and I would love to win either one.

    Tip: Have a travel buddy, like a swim buddy, when going to parties or events. I believe there is power in numbers and always make sure I or my sons know someone else at any function we are attending.

  3. First of all I love your blog! Second of all, at 38 years of age, two late teen daughters and one turning 17 year old son, I sure wish I would have read these books while my girls were growing up!

    One of the few personal safety tips that I have taught my children is to always when meeting someone new, ask them all the questions in a light conversational way,, Ask their name, where they are from, where they live now, do they have relatives close, where they went to school, and so forth. We even practiced role playing with me being the stranger. I taught them the reason for this was, you never know who you are going to meet, and these detail help with multiple things. 1. getting to know someone,2. putting the stranger on the spot for a second while they answer. 3. Take the limelight of off yourself, so that you can get a gut feeling when they talk.
    My oldest daughter followed this one day while at a dorm party, she said that the guy that was trying to befriend her, didnt answer the questions in a comfortable manner, he seemed shaky, so she pretended she got a text and that she needed to make a call. She was able to mingle in with the crowd at the party and was forgotten. But a few days later, learned that one of the other girls at the party ended up raped that night from the very same guy that she was talking to.. come to find out he was not even a student at the college.

  4. Hey There! Love the blog!

    Thanks for posting this and making me aware of this wonderful book. As per our talks on twitter, the show on Oprah was mind blowing. It was difficult for me to watch the offenders. When I was a teacher I had to take training classes and we watched videos where offenders spoke and gave information on what they did and how they did it to gain the trust or groom the family. It sent shivers down my spine.

    I always told my students (and I’ve told my partner to tell his young son) to listen to that icky feeling inside (FEAR FACTOR) it is your instinct/internal alarm that something is wrong. Even as adults, for our own protection, we should remember to trust ourselves and that little voice inside.

    It sounds like you’ve got the bases covered with your daughter – informing and educating her on how to protect herself and keeping the lines of communication open between the two of you is really all that you can do. It’s a scary world we live in, so we have to do what we must to protect ourselves and our loved one.

    Anyway, Thanks for posting this giveaway and for making this information available.

    Best,
    Li
    http://twitter.com/LaLicenciada

    PS a self defense class might be a fun thing for your daughter to do (I know I loved it).

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