‘Tis the Season

By Patrick M. Chierichella,

Educational Coordinator, The Rose Brucia Educationall Foundation

Let’s look at some of the advertising language that I saw in promotions used to describe this year’s cinematic presentations:

  • Spectacular! (The Hunger Games)
  • The Year’s Best Movie! (12 Years a Slave)
  • The sharpest comedy in years! (American Hustle)
  • A movie to watch for the rest of your life! (Nebraska)
  • He (She) gives the performance of a lifetime! (Choose your critic and make your pick!)

Ah, the season of excess, the yearly verbal indulgence in hyperbole! It is simply one of the ways the media uses to describe success. They know it when they see it.

I gleaned these tidbits from all the newspapers I read and scanned over the weekend. Publicity people know how to choose the correct words to help persuade the audience to take a chance and pay their hard earned cash to spend a couple of hours in the dark in a willing  suspension of disbelief in hopes of being amused, moved or frightened. It is success at the box office that drives the marketplace. Movie companies, actors, actresses, directors, distributors and movieplexes are all truly happy when the box office results for their films total several millions sometimes over 300 million dollars.

Happy! I tried to look up the derivation of the word; it is commonly thought to come from the word “hap” which means luck or good fortune. So, I guess, it is properly used with the movie industry, a good fortune is made by the studios.

Elsewhere, from an article from the New York Times on Sunday, December 15th titled, A Formula for Happiness, by Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC, I lifted this sentence: After 40 years of research, they (social scientists) attribute happiness to these major sources: genes, events and values.

That sentence gave me pause. It set me thinking about our Foundation. How can these sources deal with issues of stranger safety awareness and child abduction? How can happy be applied to this frightful situation?

Let me try to make my case for the antonym, hapless.

As I do research on the mindset of child predators, the one thing that keeps coming to the fore is that they are wired differently than you or I. These feral, amoral beings are out there. Something happened prenatally to these people to make them the way they are. Physically they may resemble you or me. But some disturbance occurred in their brains that predisposed them to harm children. Mental illness or psychosis, it doesn’t matter. They are different. This is not excuse for the crimes they commit. They know they are committing criminal acts. They know they are pariahs. The sooner we recognize this the better we will be able to formulate programs early in our children’s educational and psychological growth that provide a touchstone for stranger safety awareness skills. Brooks notes that up to 48% of happiness is hard-wired in our genes.

Books reports: Up to an additional 40% comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past. When will the passing of a child not be the recent past for any of us?

So, let’s see if my math is correct? 40% + 48% is 88%, leaving us with up to 12% of happiness defined by our systems of values? The perpetrators of sexual assault, changing forever a child’s view of life, and those that go so far as to murder their captives have no system of values, no superego or conscience influencing their ids or their reptilian brains, that any right-thinking person can understand.

Carlie, Leiby Kletzky, and Jessica Ridgeway were all hapless, without luck or without good fortune.

But the Rose Brucia Foundation and similarly minded groups are happy or blessed to have within their membership a value system that drives them to say NO MORE! ENOUGH! NOT ON OUR WATCH!

At this time of year I want to thank all the people who are working to strengthen our children’s stranger safety awareness skills. My thanks to

  • Matt Barbis deserves any and all accolades that come his way. His vision and drive are the heart and soul of this organization. To his wife, Renee, for her belief in him.
  • Maryann Barbis does yeoman like service in keeping all our records up to date and us in contact with each other.
  • The education committee continues to work in the shadows, preparing lesson plans that align with our newest state standards.
  • Lorcan, aka Smarty Pants, and all those involved in the production of our 2nd grade set of stranger safety awareness DVD lessons
  • Mike Pepe and Charlie Comstock for stepping up to teach classrooms and auditoriums filled with eager children
  • Dr. Charlie Kolenik for his encouragement, input  and review of our lessons and opinion papers
  • The prize committee for all their hard work (and my wife for putting up with me)
  • All the volunteers, sponsors, golfers and dinner guests who made our third annual outing so successful
  • Pat Abrams and the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue Team for reaching out to us to form an educational partnership
  • Loriann LaRocca for her powerful essays
  • All the PTA presidents and members that took our materials for school and personal use at this year’s PTA Conference in Columbus, Ohio
  • The principals and teachers and PTA’s in Great Neck, NY, and New Jersey who invited us in and then back again for repeat performances- your faith in us makes us want to do even better.

So I guess I made my own Best of 2013 without really thinking about it.

The end of the years is never complete without some resolve on our part to make ourselves and the world around us a little better. Use the video lessons. Connect to other websites and see how they deal with the issue. Ask your local PTA’s to consider having us make a parental presentation in your school. We may even be able to schedule a presentation for your children’s school. The worst they can say is NO. But at least give them the chance.

My wish for 2014 is for you and your children and grandchildren, all children to BE SAFE. See you in 2014!

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation
Founded by Matthew J. Barbis after his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, FL in 2004. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction. Utilizing puppets and a formalized educational curriculum, the foundation provides elementary-aged children with the Stranger Safety Awareness Program, free of charge. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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