Imagine This: Part 4 and final lesson of 4

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Something that’s given or is it earned? Adults develop many ways of defining and bestowing respect on others. For children, it is more than likely to be a question of responding to an adult’s authority.

Childhood is a time when we see such tremendous changes in a child’s size, strength, agility, thinking skills, and socialization.

According to Marlene Dalley, “Most abductors are usually highly skilled in the art of manipulation. More simply expressed, in order to be successful, they must lower the children’s inhibitions or make them afraid of the consequences if they do not comply”.

In Missing Children: A psychological approach to understanding the causes and consequences of stranger and non-stranger abduction of children, James N. Tedisco, an Albany area New York State assemblyman and psychologist Dr. Michele Paludi wrote, “They (abductors) use seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, motivation techniques, and threats to get children to comply with their requests to engage in sex, steal, abuse drugs, or participate in prostitution or pornography”.

Further, they write, “Children often believe that they can easily identify an abductor –someone who is sinister and offers ‘goodies’ . . . children are taught to respect adults, especially adults’ authority, and to only talk to people who look ‘nice’.  Children that are more vulnerable to stranger abductions are the quiet, thoughtful ones; children who appear to have special and intense needs for adult affection and approval”.

Psychology professor at Nicholls State University, Dr. Monique C. Boudeaux’s research has included child abduction and homicide, and child victimization. In a 2001 article she noted, “Child victimization appears to be quite dependent on the age of the victim and the motivation of the offender. Offenders generally select victims that hold some kind of significance to them…Routine activities most often bring potential victims and offenders together. Crime is most often a result of interactions between motivated offenders, available targets, and lack of vigilant guardianship to prevent crime . . . often, it is this vulnerability, coupled with ease of access that is apparent to offenders and serves to elevate their interest in children as desirable prey”.

Dr. Boudreaux writes of John Walsh saying he wished both he and his wife had “spent more time encouraging my son (Adam) to respect his safety instead of respecting adults’ authority”. Further he says, “If I had taught him to scream, he might be alive now.”

Obviously, research shows that these predators do their homework. We just have to do ours better.

Imagine This! Part IV: I Can’t Believe How You Have Grown!

You paint this picture for your child: Playing in front of our house or just down the block, you hear someone (a man or a woman) call out to you. You hear your name and look at the person. You see they are neatly dressed. The person calls out your name again, smiles at you while shaking his/her head slowly side to side. You hear, “It is you. My, you have gotten so big. I can remember when your father called to tell me how proud he was to be a daddy. And your mom? She told me how she cried happy tears when she held you for the first time.” The person walks closer and closer to you.

These are a few questions to discuss with your child:

  • What is your first reaction to hearing your name and our names? Do you stop to listen to the person?
  • Since they know your name, do you talk with them?
  • Since they know my name, do you talk to them?
  • What if the person tells you he/she is looking for our address?
  • What is mirroring?
  • What is personal space? How big is your personal space?

It is a truly worrisome to realize that in this day and age a parent needs to take time to develop a stranger safety awareness strategy for his/her family. I hope these few scenarios have helped underscore your own awareness philosophies.

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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