The Secret Word

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

One of the most effective techniques that you may use to help reduce the possibility of your child going with someone who you do not approve would be to establish a secret word.

The secret word is a word that you and your child agree upon to be the code word that will be used if someone other than you attempts to take them anywhere. Some important tips when establishing your secret word:

  1. Make certain that the word is easily remembered by your child but not something that will be obvious to others.
  2. Keep the secret word completely secret from everyone except those that will use the word with your permission when you cannot be there to pick up your child.
  3. Explain the importance of your child NEVER sharing their secret word with their friends. This word is meant for parents exclusively.
  4. Teach your child that you will only share that word with someone else when they are unable to be there to pick up your child.

Please feel free to share the following video with all your friends, parents, teachers and children with the goal of encouraging all to establish a secret word as soon as possible.

Remember, in a study by the Department of Justice: In 8,000 failed child abductions attempts over the last 8 years, 83% of the time the child escaped because the child knew what to do!

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.

Awareness 2016

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Well, here we are at the beginning of New York State Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week.  This week is dedicated to teaching stranger safety awareness to all elementary-aged children.

The theme of awareness is promoted in its most basic form in the Stranger Safety Awareness Program.  Each day this week, we will take the opportunity to re-launch a popular lesson from our archives to help parents and teachers reinforce important techniques as we approach Halloween.

We’ll start by defining the word “stranger”. Please share with all parents, teachers and children.

(Remember, we still don’t have professional actors so my elementary school acting career is pretty transparent – enjoy)

 

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.

Two Simple Words: Thank You

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It was another successful year for our annual golf outing. Over 240 people attended what started out as an idea to run “just a little golf outing with a few friends”. It was apparent from the beginning that there was more than a little interest in helping our free program to gain the funds it needed for our then-lofty aspirations to push our stranger safety awareness program nationally. Not only did we get a few interested golfers – we immediately were faced with the challenge of running a large annual gala that attracted over 200 people!

It warms my heart to know that so many rally together to fight against such an incredibly devastating, albeit statistically low probability event, such as child abduction. How on earth do you combat something you have absolutely no control over? How can you stop a pedophile from doing the unthinkable? With education – that’s how!

If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times over the last 12 years: We can’t do anything to stop a pedophile’s action, but we can absolutely teach our children what to do to avoid that pedophile when they make their intentions clear. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s Stranger Safety Awareness Program has been built to teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches a child. The program highlights important concepts such as the notion that not all strangers are dangerous; you can still talk to strangers but you NEVER go anywhere with them; common sense dictates that you never get something for nothing, so a stranger bearing gifts is to be questioned, to name a few.

The point I am trying to make is that even though we attempt to guard our next generation against potential horrors, we should take a moment to recognize that there is also plenty of good in the world.  If ever you waiver on the existence of good in the world, I invite you to attend one of the Rose Brucia functions.  After a few moments in a packed room with such warm, loving devotion to family and friends that come together with such a pure goal, you will most certainly have your faith in mankind restored.  There is good in the world and I experienced just a small sample of it tonight. Thank you, each and every one who attend our event each year. You make it possible for us to continue our free program and you prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is always light after darkness.

Carlie’s light still shines today because of your dedication and support. I am now, no longer just one guy who wanted to make sure that no other family would have to feel the devastation that his family felt. I am now, one guy with a board of directors of a national charity, with a volunteer organization of teachers, with a truly sound stranger safety educational curriculum that has a global reach, with hundreds of individual supporters, hundreds of friends and thousands of families, standing guard of a line that will no longer be easily crossed if a pedophile dares try…and I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you 🙂

 

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.

 

 

Pokémon NO!

By Matthew J. Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It seems that Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation. It’s a very entertaining, enthralling game that really brings the world of video games to life. It’s all over the news how this game is causing accidents because the players are losing focus on reality. Let’s take a moment to discuss how this app can become extremely dangerous to our children.

The Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Program has a goal to increase children’s awareness to their surroundings. It seems that melding reality and gaming is now another blockade to keeping our children alert.

Some tips to share with parents & children:

  1. Agree on the proper times and places that such a game may be played safely.
  2. Discuss the possibility of allowing the game to be played with adult supervision.
  3. Have a meaningful discussion of the consequences of not paying attention to their surroundings, ie. walking out into the street, falling over a curb, tripping into another person, and of course, walking right into the hands of a predator.
  4. Remind children to walk with their heads up and eyes looking all around.
  5. Remember to keep a safe distance from all strangers. Not all strangers are bad, but the ones who want to hurt your children will be looking for an opportunity when they can strike. It only takes an instant to destroy what a lifetime of love has created.

Pokémon Go can be a lot of fun, just remind your children that all fun activities have a time and a place.

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.

What’s Old Is Nothing New

By Matthew Barbis,

Founder & Chairman, The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Welcome to 2016! A new year with new possibilities and new directions! Out with the old and in with the new! If only that were the case with attempted child abductions.

As I write this blog on January 12, 2016, there have been 5 child abduction attempts within the last 12 days on Long Island alone. Luckily, they all had one thing in common…they were only ATTEMPTED. In all cases, the children knew not to go with the stranger. If you review every blog I have ever written, you will see a common message over and over again. Speak with your children. Teach them what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches. Check out our free videos. Encourage your local PTA organization to have our free program of videos and already prepared lesson plans added to your elementary school’s curriculum. Repeat those steps over and over. I sound like a broken record (and I want to).

Here is a refresher course for the new year:

Define the word STRANGER: Any person that you do not know.

Advise your child to NEVER trust or go somewhere with a STRANGER.

Discuss with your child that it is ok to speak with STRANGERS because not all STRANGERS are bad – but there is never any reason to go with a STRANGER, no matter their story.

Show your child that a STRANGER may lie to them or try to trick them.

Beware of STRANGERS bearing gifts – remind your child that you rarely get something for nothing.

It’s not about scaring your child. It’s all about educating your child about reality. The world is a wonderful place with incredible possibilities. Let’s limit one of the negative possibilities by giving your child an edge.

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.

Personal Space is very PERSONAL

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

As part of the Stranger Safety Awareness Program at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, we pay special attention to defining the concept of personal space. In an effort to properly illustrate the concept, we ask three students from the audience to join us at the front of the room. Once the students are in front of the audience, we then coach them to show the audience, without words, the meaning of the two words: “personal space”.

It is a lot of fun to watch the students ponder the meaning and slowly start to act out their demonstration. Some students point to their feet, others start to flap their arms, while still others start to spin in a circle. Once they have arrived at their wordless definition, we, the instructors, then respectfully invade their personal space in order to drive the point home.

Personal space is defined as the “bubble” around you, fingertip to fingertip as you extend your arms, all the way over your head, behind you and in front of you. It becomes important to list who may be invited into your personal space. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, brother, sister, best friend, family pet, school nurse, teacher are a few top choices. This opens the opportunity for the further discussion that strangers must NEVER be permitted to enter this space. Additionally, if a stranger starts to move into that space, your child should be instructed to run, not walk, but run away to create as much distance as possible from that stranger. For these purposes, a stranger is anyone who you or your child have not been formally introduced and anyone that you do not know.

You may use this opportunity to discuss other topics such as good touch and bad touch (a very hot topic that is best introduced by a parent due to its intense personal nature) and physical bullying. As always, these lessons are meant to be thought-provoking and stimulate open communication.

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.

Stranger Safety Awareness Week in NY State 2015

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Today kicks off Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week in New York State. The reason for this special week is to remind children of the importance of stranger SAFETY, not stranger DANGER. There has been a lot of talk recently about how stranger danger is not what you should be focusing on because not all strangers are dangerous. I couldn’t agree more – in fact, we center our entire educational philosophy at Rose Brucia around the concept of stranger safety.

Stranger Danger puts the focus on all strangers being dangerous and that your child should never talk to or go anywhere with a stranger. Stanger Safety recognizes that children should not go anywhere with a stranger but also recognizes and allows children to speak with, under safer conditions, some strangers. The Rose Brucia curriculum strives to provide children with real-life concepts that increase awareness when dealing with strangers. It starts with the notion that your child is first going to receive their first formal introductions from their parents to establish the first level of safety. Beyond their safety net of the home, as children go out into the real world, they will encounter others who cannot be defined as anything but strangers.  Does this mean that they cannot establish meaningful relationships with those around them as they mature? Absolutely not! It helps your child create a shortcut to identifying a dangerous situation before it has a chance to occur.

Simply stated: If your child doesn’t know the person, they do not go with the person!

It is always a good time to discuss stranger safety with your child. It is an even better opportunity to discuss stranger safety with your child the week before Halloween. Please take a few minutes to visit our free curriculum page at http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads or check out this stranger safety tip page.

Rose-Flyer

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.

10 Attempted Child Abductions in 10 Days

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman,

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

On July 11, 2011, 8 year-old Lieby Kletzky was abducted in Brooklyn, NY. Before then, the most famous NY area child abduction was when 6 year-old Etan Paitz was reported missing on May 25, 1979. There was a 32 year span between these highly publicized abductions, and while it was catastrophic to both families involved, most New Yorkers continued with their lives with the notion that child abduction might be something that really didn’t happen that often in that area.

Statistically, an abduction by a complete stranger is the rarest of events, making up about 21,700 of abductions by strangers vs. 200,000 abductions by family members each year (according to The US Dept of Justice 2010 Study conducted by Attorney General Eric Holder and The Department of Justice NISMART study 2002).

In 1996, The AMBER Alert System was placed into effect. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and also stands as a legacy to 9 year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and brutally murdered in Austin, Texas earlier that year.

In 2005, The US Department of Justice created CART (Child Abduction Response Teams) and pushed a nationwide initiative in hopes of responding quickly to incidents of missing and abducted children. On a very personal note, CART was created as a result of my 11 year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, being abducted and murdered in 2004.

Pretty somber statistics, stories and facts about very real children.

Stranger Safety has been gaining a lot of attention lately. If you live in the Northeast section of The United States, mostly you have heard about it happening in the rest of the country, but seldom had a local experience…until recently. As I write this blog, there have been over 10 attempted abductions, all by complete strangers in the New York/Long Island area in the last 10 days!

Here is a HUGE REALITY CHECK: It is not enough to have rapid response systems in place to help children who have been abducted. It is CRUCIAL to educate children, in a non-threatening environment, about the dangers strangers may pose. We MUST teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches. How can we expect children to make the correct choice when confronted by a stranger if we are uncomfortable discussing the topic?

Another important and vital statistic according to The US Department of Justice: In 8,000 failed child abductions attempts over the last 8 years, 83% of the time the child escaped because the child knew what to do!

1. Define the word stranger: any person that you do not know

2. Tell your child that strangers can be friendly and may even try to befriend them

3. Advise your child to NEVER trust or go anywhere with a stranger

4. Show your child that a stranger may lie to them or try to trick them

5. Beware strangers bearing gifts – remind your child that you never get something for nothing

Practice these five tips with your children. Start them thinking about the concepts. Review these tips often. Reinforce their importance. Visit http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads for free videos and lesson plans to further concrete the message.

Be certain that if a stranger in a van pulls up to your child that your child will know automatically not to trust them and not to go near them!

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.

 

Rose Brucia Responds to Attempted Abductions in WPIX Interview

http://go.pix11.com/1FSnzAT

Click on the selected link above to view the WPIX interview of Rose Brucia founder and chairman, Matthew Barbis. To learn more about what to do if a friendly stranger approaches your child, visit http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads for free lessons and videos.

Tried and True

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

He checked himself one last time in the mirror. He thought he looked clean-cut. He practiced his smile in the mirror. He practiced looking sad. He knew from past experience this would work; it always worked. He would elicit empathy from his targets. He knew the secret to his success was to incorporate enough truth from his real life into his heart-breaking tale.

He looked at the children. He paused and said, Want to see a picture of my dog?” He had sought an image he felt might engage the children. He found it and several others readily on a shelf of blank note cards.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” he asked the children. He knew the dog really was pretty: a well-groomed golden retriever, seated on its haunches, holding some sort of blue/purple flower in its jaws, the contrast of colors perfectly captured by the camera. He watched as the eyes of the children focused on the photo.

“Her name is Belle,” he said. “Why do you think my wife calls her Belle?” he added. Always throw in the idea of a wife, he said to himself. That family unit thing lets the kids think I’m just a regular guy.

The little girl said, as he hoped, “Because she looks like a princess. Just like Princess Belle.”

He smiled at her. “That’s right. My wife loves the movie Beauty and the Beast. She thought Belle would be a great name for our dog.” He paused to let that sink in. He needed to paint a more complete mental picture of “his dog” for the kids. He took what he thought of as qualities of dogs he had owned or friend’s had owned or ones he had read about. He knew to keep the photo of the dog front and center, not to break the kids’ attention on “his precious pup.”

“Belle is a great dog,” he continued. Smile, he thought. Don’t forget to smile. “Why, she would want any one of you pet her. You would be her new best friend. She is so gentle my wife takes her to nursing homes to visit some people once a week. Belle even goes to hospitals to see children who are sick. She makes them smile. She even likes to sit down and have those children read to her. When she leaves, she wags and wags her tail and gives each child a big wet kiss. Can you imagine?” He watches as the children bob their heads in agreement. Now, he thought, now for the real heart tug.

“Belle has one problem, though.” Start frowning, he said to himself.  “She is very afraid of loud noises. She is really a scaredy cat with them. She can’t stand thunder. She runs and hides in my closet or in the bathtub when there is loud boom. Fireworks? Oh my, oh my! Fire crackers make her run around in circles, looking for somewhere to hide.” Look sad now. “Yesterday, my wife and I had Belle groomed. She looked so sweet. Our friend asked us to bring her over so she could see her. We put Belle out in our friend’s yard. A couple of fire crackers went off next to the fence. Belle got very frightened, jumped at the gate. It opened and she ran out. By the time we got outside we couldn’t find her. My wife was in tears. I’m going to go look for her.” Now set the hook. “Would you like to help me bring Belle home? I’ll give you a reward.”

The children said, “Yes!”

This storyline is one we have developed at the Foundation for our school presentations. Imagine this done in front of 100 or more children at a time. Now consider the fact that we get almost unanimous response from the students when we ask for their help. As one teacher gasped when she saw the terrifying agreement to help a stranger, “I can’t believe it. We talk about this all the time. I can’t believe they fell for it.” Fall, they do!

According to a news report, the abduction of the two Amish girls in Oswegatchie, NY, was facilitated by the abductors having a dog in their car.

Go over the story with your children or wards. Emphasize the need for your child to stay more than an arm’s length from a stranger, never to approach a stranger’s car for any reason, never to accept any handout or gift from someone they do not know. Practice and instill in your child the first response you want from them when they are approached by a stranger-he/she must get home, get to somewhere safe, where there is a trusted adult.

School’s open. These lessons do not require textbooks or manuals. The only requirement is that we talk to the children about these issues, any time, any place.

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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