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‘Averting Aggression: Safety at Work’ by Owen Booker


Averting Aggression – Safety at Work with Adolescents and Adults
by Owen Booker
Russell House Publishing, 4 St Georges House, The Business Park, Uplyme Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3LS
Publication date: 1999
ISBN: 1-898924-56-2
Price: £12.95

This book is outwardly advertised as being for those who work in social or youth work, education, residential care, youth justice, the police, prison, probation and health services. I think it could, and should, reach a much wider audience including those working in hostels and, basically, anywhere that workers may encounter aggressive situations, from nightclubs to reception areas to shops.

I expected, from the title, to be reading another basic guide to keeping yourself out of trouble. Owen Booker goes much further than this, covering individual, personal and organisational issues in surprising depth for a 140 page book.

The content itself is interspersed with anecdotes and scenarios which go a long way towards clarifying points made in the already easily read text. It is obvious from the text that Mr Booker has ‘lived’ many of the situations himself – unlike the authors of many books about self-preservation.

The introduction to the book is in itself very thorough. I usually ‘skim-read’ introductions but found that this introduction actually serves a purpose in that it sets the scene for the following pages – so I had to go back and read it properly.

The first section starts by exploring people’s responses to aggression and moves on to explain the DELIVER CARE mnemonic as a means of remembering the basis of effective response to aggression. This is followed by an activity which allows the reader to consider an aggressive situation. The author then leads you through the exploration of the scenario given in the activity. Following on from this, the author explains and discusses a number of proven techniques for dealing with aggressive situations. Thankfully, he leaves restraint until the end and points out that this should be the last resort.

Section two deals with organisational health. This section begins with an activity that allows the reader to read on in the context of their own organisation – a useful focusing tool. In the following pages, Mr Booker shows a good depth of knowledge and insight into organisational culture and behaviours.

The book rounds off with a chapter exploring personal issues from the use of body language to assertiveness.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be full of sound advice and common-sense (once you know them) techniques for dealing with aggressive and potentially aggressive situations. This is, in my view, an essential text for those working in contact with possible aggressors. It would also form an extremely effective and informative aid to those who carry out training in this area.

Tony Gibbins
Training Manager
Voluntary Hostels Group, Norwich


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