“There’s nothin’ can harm you…”

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Haunting, hypnotic, evocative the seminal aria, Summertime, composed by George Gershwin in 1935 for Porgy and Bess, stays wondrously intoxicating today as we look forward with anticipation to the languorous warmth of summer 2014.

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing

Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky.

Until that morning, there’s nothin’ can harm you

With your daddy and mammy standing by.

Sweet, poignant, tinged with an undercurrent of melancholy these lyrics evoke for parents and guardians the natural yet wistful passage of a child into self-reliant adult.

Wait a second there, my friends! Snap out of your reverie! Here come the daunting tasks that are today’s requirements for any child’s chance at educational and vocational success.

State tests, finals, placements discussions, Committee on Special Education hearings, teacher evaluations are just a few of the stressors that parents, children and educators annually face, leaving all but the hardiest drained and looking forward to those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”

Jeff Smink, VP for policy of the National Summer Learning Association, published the article, This is Your Brain on Summer Break on July 27, 2011. He noted a summer off is one of the important causes of underachievement. A RAND Corporation report from June 2011 posited each student sustaining an average mathematics and reading loss of one month per year. Moreover, the loss is cumulative! According to the website, Think/Stretch, students lose 2 to 3 months of knowledge every summer! Within such articles you will also find proposals for at least SIX additional summer weeks of instruction for all students. Yikes!!!

Wasn’t there a last day of school rhyme? No more pencils, no more books, no more…

We know true learning is built up layer by layer, year after year; whether that schooling entails large, grand concepts or simple everyday minutiae that add some clarity to our mental construct about living, learning, readin’, writin’ and ‘rtithmetic (Was it all so simple then? Weren’t THOSE the days?), some data is making its way through our senses into our cerebral processing unit.

As parents and guardians there is an overwhelming amount on your daily plate. Selfishly, we here at The Rose Brucia Education Foundation, ask that you also continue to work on refining and developing the stranger safety skills we have emphasized this year. Our goal is to make a child’s behavior as instinctual as possible, to prevent that momentary freeze that allows an amoral person, harboring a truly feral humanoid beast within their hearts to enter a child’s personal space, to plant a seed of excitement for a free gift, to get a child to willingly enter that stranger’s car, to cajole a child, to dupe a child into helping find that fictitious lost pet. We want a learned habit to become an instant reflex. We need to make our children proficient in withstanding the magnetic, perverse allure of those who would visit evil on them.

We ask you to talk with your child(ren) about what you mean by the term reaction, how many reactions are instilled before birth-responses to hot, cold, to touch, to itch, to blinking to name a few. Talk about learned responses-leaves of three, let them be, how a puppy can be trained, whatever comes to mind. Work on a child’s awareness of his or her surroundings. If we take them to a movie theater and the theater is required by law to identify the location of fire exits, then shouldn’t we work on developing a natural exit from the advance of an unknown stranger into our children’s play space?

Ask your children to describe the hallway they just walked down in your home. Ask them to describe what is on a shelf behind them. Rearrange the items the next day and ask what is different. Ask them to state the color of your neighbor’s cars. Work up to ever more inclusive or exclusive queries.

Psych, a show about a supposed psychic detective, relied upon the hero’s skill as a talented observer of all he saw. In flashback sequences, the hero’s father would demand the son focus and tell him exactly what he had just seen.   Imagine you and your child at Mickey D’s, DQ, or any fast food restaurant.  Ask questions about the room and its occupants: How many people were working behind the counter? What color were their uniforms? How many tables were occupied? How many people were sitting alone? You get the point. But, remember, the kids will in turn ask you questions. Be ready!  Silly?  Perhaps. Complicated? If you make it so. Just get them to focus, to be on their toes.

Instill the basic rules for safety but reinforce how truly important they are for the summer months. Redefine and strengthen your family concepts of trust and the reasons you want your children to give their trust to someone. Work again on the idea of personal space.

Please practice the Stranger Safety Awareness skills presented to your children during the simple lessons provided by RBEF.

  • Ensure your children know who strangers are.
  • Practice the correct and safe way to deal with strangers at the door.
  • Select a secret word/password for identification of trusted adults or teenagers by your children.
  • Instill the proper way of dealing with being lost at the mall or in a big store.
  • Go over the proper response to an emergency.
  • Model the mirroring technique for maintaining a safe distance from a stranger.

There’s nothin’ can harm you

Let’s make it so! Be safe!

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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