The Off Chance

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

In days past, as I was sitting in the darkened movie theater, I watched and listened as the screen filled with an avalanche of popped corn with its signature popping sound. Then the sound of tinkling ice came as the cubes filled a glass. Soda loudly effervesced as it poured over the ice. Images not so subtly urging me to visit the refreshment stand are as old as movies themselves. These messages are easily dismissed as being the ever present nuisance I must sit through before the film begins.

It was what followed the advertisements that got me thinking: A picture of the theater with its exits along with this voiceover, In the unlikely event of an emergency…Aren’t all emergencies unlikely events?

Unlikely event? Given our population, certainly! Stephen King wrote, There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst. Ann Landers wrote, It is not what you do for your children but what you taught them to do for themselves. A former teaching peer often spoke of prior planning in formulating strong lessons. Planning does not guarantee success. Planning does develop a sense of confidence.

Before a hurricane season several years, my wife and I attended an emergency preparedness meeting at our local high school. We listened to town officials talk about power outages and local flooding potential. As we left the meeting, we were given a bright red backpack, our go bag courtesy of the American Red Cross. It included the Town’s Resident Guide to Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness, lists of essentials for families, supply suggestions for our car, for our formulation of an evacuation plan, for anything and everything aligned with our safety.

According to the FBI, in 2016 there were 465,676 entries concerning missing children in the Bureau’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC); in 2017, there were 464,324 entries. Doing the math, on average, there are about 1,270 or more entries per day concerning missing children in our country. In 2017, our population was 325.7 million people. I can do the math. The total entries for missing children reflect .1% of our population in these years. Doing research on the issue of child abductions, I come across statements on the net from people out there who claim groups such as ours, along with the media, overplay the frequency of child abductions, of school shootings, emphasizing fear over reality. If you are only into numbers, then, yes, that number speaks to your argument. However, the impact upon the missing child, the child’s immediate family, the child’s extended family, the friends, classmates, and the community becomes multiplied into a significant value that cannot be denied. The event, singular though it may be, has a rippling effect that can rock many groups.

At the Foundation, we urge informing and preparing your child for whatever emergency life may throw their way. They need their own go bag. We urge you to review in as an engaging manner as possible the following points:

Practice performing a formal introduction with your child. Give your child a strong idea of who a stranger is. Advise your child never to go anywhere with a stranger. Let your child know a stranger may be lying to them. Tell your child never to take a gift from a stranger. Teach your child to use the Buddy System and always go somewhere with a friend. Create a Secret Word with your child that must be used to identify someone who is sent by you with any message or suggestion to go with them. Insure your child can use 9-1-1 properly and easily. Play observation games to heighten your child’s awareness skills.

Our lives are more complicated today than ever before. At the Foundation, we hope our suggestions do not insult nor overwhelm you.

There is an old saying, Fool me once, shame on me. To be fooled by a dangerous stranger, by a predator just once, is truly more than enough.

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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