Keyeye: Making Kids Safe.
Produced by Kent Gravelle and Robin Webb.
Maple Ridge, BC: Keyeye Productions, 1996.
51 min., VHS, $24.95 ($74.95 with public performance rights).
Self-defense for children.
Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
Review by Theresa Yauk.
We all have the ability to recognize danger. It's a matter of knowing what to look for that keeps us safe -- that keeps us from getting hurt or being taken away. We'd like to show you how to do just that. So -- the object of this program is to learn to recognize danger in our daily lives no matter how small. That means learning to listen to your gut and trust your instincts.
This high-quality video is the result of years of work. The Keyeye program has been taught in schools since 1981, and the producers of this video also put out Hands Off II in 1990, a self-defense video for women that also included a segment at the end showing the Keyeye program for children.
Keyeye: Making Kids Safe discusses issues concerning child safety, specifically stranger assault and abduction. In doing so, the makers of this video strive to empower children by stressing that children can play a part in extricating themselves from situations that might be dangerous. One portion of the video depicts various holds abductors can place on children, allowing actual children in a school auditorium the opportunity to practice getting out of these holds to escape a would-be abductor. In this way, children viewing the video can see that it is possible for children to defend themselves against adults, and that they are not helpless.
The purpose of Making Kids Safe is to demonstrate to children that they should trust their intuition, and that they should be suspicious and aware of what is going on around them. The video is geared for middle-to-upper-elementary school children, and children in this age group are also urged to keep an eye out for younger children, and offer them help if a bad situation arises. To deal with the issue of child abduction, children read out scenarios about how they would trick children into going with them if they were adult abductors. By allowing the children the opportunity to share their own ideas, the video lets children to teach each other.
The children's participation also means that the language and concepts used are appropriate for the intended audience. After each scenario is read out, a taped dramatization of such an incident is shown to the children. After the dramatizations, children discuss what could have occurred differently in the scenarios, and alternative scenarios are offered to show how such abductions could be avoided. Both children and their parents offer suggestions and ideas throughout this portion of the program.
The producers of Making Kids Safe are to be commended for their handling of these scenarios. The adult abductors are "normal" looking, and are both male and female. The ruses depicted are contemporary (such as an adult male attempting to lure a young boy into a hot-rod blaring loud music).
Several scenarios involve ruses that children would find very difficult to detect. For instance, one shows a man with a police officer's badge asking a young boy to come with him to the hospital to see his mother. Afterwards, an actual police officer tells children ways to handle such a situation. Unlike some safety videos on the market, Making Kids Safe has a narrow enough mandate to allow it to deal with the issue of stranger abduction and assault comprehensively.
The video is not only extremely informative, but also somewhat entertaining. Robin Webb, the workshop leader, is a charismatic individual who manages to balance the seriousness of the topic with some occasional humour lightening the mood to make it more enjoyable to view. Webb also has a good rapport with the children; he never condescends to his audience, but always shows real respect for children.
The program also recognizes changes in the traditional family. For instance, Webb provides ideas that could help ensure that latchkey children are kept safe, like having a tape of a parent's voice play when the child answers the telephone.
The technical quality of Making Kids Safe matches the content: the images are always in focus and capture any necessary detail, and the sound is clear. As a result, the video has a professional look to it that will ensure that viewers will pay attention.
The cost of Keyeye: Making Kids Safe is reasonable, both for regular and public performance rights copies. Also, the makers of this video state at the outset of the program that copies of this video can be made without penalty and given to children, further showing their commitment to child safety.
This video would be an excellent addition to public or school library collections, and would also be appropriate for home use. Adults should bear in mind, however, that parents or adults should really be present at any viewing. This video will engender discussion, and there are points in the video where an adult should stop the tape and discuss pertinent issues with children. And children viewing the program are not going to learn how to escape holds only by watching other children practice -- they need the opportunity to practice these escapes themselves with adults.
Theresa Yauk works in the Special Services department at the Winnipeg Centennial library; she previously worked in the Children's Department for six years. She is currently studying for a Master's degree in Library and Information Science.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
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