The unfortunate reality of today's society is that children cannot remain innocent for very long. They need to be aware of the various potentially dangerous situations they may face and the ways in which they can best handle these situations. With the majority of households having parents who work outside the home, children are now responsible for their own welfare at a much earlier age than in the past.
The Safe Zone provides children, ages eight and up, and their parents positive ways to identify and prepare for these threatening situations. In an easy-to-read format, the authors discuss issues ranging from dealing with bullies to that of safety away from home.
The language is concise and clear. Topics are introduced in a matter-of-fact manner without any sense of alarm. Each chapter provides what if scenarios for the reader to ponder, real-life situations and photos, and specific techniques to use to de-escalate the situations. Interspersed throughout the book are skills, such as the use of peripheral vision, for children to practice.
Chaiet and Russell liken the reading of their book to preparing for a fire. They feel children should practice the skills they offer in the book and plan ahead for their own safety. They emphasize the idea that self-defense does not necessarily mean the use of physical force.
Throughout the book they stress four key elements as essential for self-defense: awareness of your environment, use of body language, importance of self-esteem, and the enforcement of both emotional and physical boundaries. The authors believe that if a child has practiced all four of these factors and keeps them in mind, he or she should have a minimal number of problems. In addition, The Safe Zone also stresses the importance of children trusting their gut when reacting to a particular situation.
In a more perfect world, this book would not be necessary. Children would be able to live worry-free lives. However, such a utopia does not exist at present perhaps it never did and we must prepare our children to live in our society as it exists today. Ideally, children and parents should read The Safe Zone together, and after much discussion, determine the best preparation for each family to take.
Karen Chikofsky is a reviewer of children's books in Brooklyn, New York.