And now for something completely different

By Patrick M. Chierichella
Educational Coordinator
The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

First period, Earth Science Regents, immediately after the bell sounding the beginning of class, over there in the last row, Sam has raised his hand and is calling out, Mr. C! Mr. C! Recognizing the persistence in his tone, realizing it is better to acknowledge him than not, I simply ask, Sam? His reply is one that every teacher past, present and future has heard, does hear, and will hear throughout their careers. Mr. C, this has nothing to do with the topic, but…  

And so it goes, even today.

The Foundation earned its reputation by becoming a resource guide for parents and teachers looking to empower their charges though engaging video lessons and presentations concerning STRANGER SAFETY AWARENESS. The RBEF has been approached about providing similar support regarding internet safety. The concern of parents and schools is understandable. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that one in seven children have been sexually solicited on line. This is a frightening statistic. 1 in 7? Welcome to the online world!

Perhaps this may help.

An online approach by a sexual predator is nothing but a long con game, a psychological grooming of a preteen or adolescent to accept that person’s trustworthiness based on perceptions of mutual attraction, support and caring for one another.

Thomas Reid, an18th century British philosopher, wrote An Inquiry into the Human Mind wherein he stated…people have a disposition to confide in the veracity of others, and to believe what they tell us. This is known as Reid’s Principle of Credulity. The dictionary defines credulity as a willingness to believe or trust too readily; gullibility. Reid saw credulity unlimited in children until they met with instances of deceit and falsehood. According to Piers Benn, an adjunct professor at Fordham University London Centre, We all believe things we should not, and this arises from numerous faulty tendencies, including wishful thinking, fearful thinking, cognitive bias, intellectual incompetence, such as a tendency to misjudge probability. All these sources of error can lead to excessive credence to appearances, which can have deleterious… repercussions. He further notes …if we badly want to believe something, we often end up doing so. We might deliberately fail to look for reasons not to believe it, or place trust in people of whom we have reason to be wary. Much of what a person believes is based upon the word of others since we cannot directly experience everything as Dr. Beth Snow of Simon Fraser University states. We believe lots of things based solely on what others say or write.

Apply this to the issue at hand and a built in tendency to be gulled is evident. Forewarned is forearmed. Here are a few suggestions gleaned from numerous articles and websites.

  • Be involved with your children by asking if they use social networking. Check it out together.
  • Tell your child never to post their full name, address, phone number, school name and other personal information that could help a predator find them. Remind them that photos offer clues as to their location.
  • Supervise your child’s time on the internet.
  • Read and discuss Aesop’s The Wolf and the Shepherd. (A Wolf had been prowling around a flock of Sheep for a long time, and the Shepherd watched very anxiously to prevent him from carrying off a Lamb. But the Wolf did not try to do any harm. Instead he seemed to be helping the Shepherd take care of the Sheep. At last the Shepherd got so used to seeing the Wolf about that he forgot how wicked he could be. One day he even went so far as to leave his flock in the Wolf’s care while he went on an errand. But when he came back and saw how many of the flock had been killed and carried off, he knew how foolish to trust a Wolf). Be hammy. Make a short play of it and give the wolf, shepherd and lamb different voices. Have your child describe the behavior of the Shepherd and the Wolf. Ask your child why the Shepherd was so gullible. Ask if that could happen when a person is using the internet.
  • Make a copy of the diagram at the end of this blog. Follow the instructions about matching the groups to the various circles of interaction that have been drawn. Ask the child to describe what the lessening of color intensity has to deal with safety and trust. Talk about the real distance between people communicating on the internet. Ask your child to say how far away a person using the internet to talk with them is. Use this as a simple image to show that lack of color means you do not have enough information about someone and therefor the site being visited is not safe.

There is no easy answer. Be vigilant, be involved and, as always, Be Safe!

Diagram Something Completely Different

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.

 

 

 

Super Bowl XXXIII

By Patrick M. Chierichella

Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

David J. Liberman, PhD, in his book, You Can Read Anyone, calls memory an anchor, an association or link between a specific set of feelings or emotional state and some unique stimulus: an image, sound, name or taste.

Do you recall SuperBowl XXXVIII? In what Sports Illustrated reporter Peter King called the greatest SuperBowl of all time, the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers, 32-29. The game, played on February 1, 2004, was decided on a field goal with four seconds left on the clock. Tom Brady was named the MVP as the Patriots won their second Lombardi Trophy in three years. Replays of the kick would be shown over and over for the next few days. Replays of Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show would be replayed far more often than the game. Remember it now?

Another video replay would also make its way to television sets throughout the country that week. The setting was Evie’s Car Wash on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota, Florida. People in the community knew that cutting through its parking area allows you to round the corner and save some walking time. Many had done it before; many do so today. Carlie Brucia would not get the chance.

          Video surveillance cameras at the car wash caught a not too clear image of Carlie being grabbed and pulled away by a man dressed in work clothes, his name fuzzily scrawled on a patch on his chest. It is the last picture of this young girl, too easily recalled for family, friends, law-enforcement officials, and interested by-standers who have viewed it online: the young girl being forcibly dragged towards the unknown abductor’s car, an old station wagon, off camera.

If you go online to view or review this video, you cannot but help feel the need to speak out to the child, to shout some warning that danger lies near. Mark Twain wrote that man is like the moon; everyone has a dark side. Masks are part of everyone’s psyche.

We will never know why Carlie walked unaware into mortal danger.

Here’s a question for you: When you look at the world, what do you see? If you are like me, you see a world that is the reflection of you, of all you know and think you know. Did Carlie see any reason to be upset, worried or scared?

William Butler Yeats said, There are no strangers only friends we haven’t met yet. This is a lovely sentiment but begs qualification. Say it to a child, profess its truth and you may place an innocent in harm’s way.

How many of us tell our children to respect adults, adults are in charge, that children owe these people obedience due to their authority? Saul McLeod, in a 2007 article, Obedience to Authority, stated Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual, who is usually an authority figure. It is assumed that without such an order the person would not have acted in this way. Obedience occurs when you are told to do something (authority). Obedience involves a hierarchy of power / status. Therefore, the person giving the order has a higher status than the person receiving the order.

          So we prepare and reinforce the template for dealing with authority for our children. It is possible that children a) accept as permissible the commands of an adult whether or not they hold a position of authority, b) regard the position held as the reason to obey such a command, or c) base the acceptability of the command on a combination of position of power or just by the person being an adult.

What goes on in the mind of a child? Do you know? I surely do not. Our children, no matter what we think they know, what they tell us, what they keep from us due to fear of disappointing us or from some overwhelming sense of shame, remain deep secrets and mysteries to us.

I believe I read of John Walsh, Adam’s father, saying something like I wish I had taught him to scream instead of worrying about some stranger’s feelings. He further said, Adam’s abduction was our private hell-but it was not an isolated incident. On any given day, any number of children are absent from their homes for diverse and numerous reasons.

The why of Carlie’s behavior remains a mystery. Her fate was a tragedy.

February 1, 2018 is the 14th anniversary of Carlie’s passing.

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.

Nothing More

By Patrick M. Chierichella

Education Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Education Foundation

 

A few years ago I was watching an episode of NCIS. As the episode ended a poignant melody accompanied the images on the screen. I found the name of the song was Nothing More by the band Alternate Routes. In the lyrics of this song I found two lines that struck me as exceptionally potent in their simplicity:

We are how we treat each other when day is done.

We are how we treat each other and nothing more.

I will make some personal assumptions here: that those of you who know of our organization and read our blogs will attest to both these statements; that the vast majority of people in the world believe likewise; and that those who harm children physically and emotionally, those predators, abusers, pornographers who steal a child’s innocence, do not hold to such notions.

It is a sad fact that the narrative in our minds of our children growing up untouched by the ugliness of predatory adults must be tempered by the reality of our kids and grandkids physically maturing more quickly than in generations past, that they can’t stay kids for a longer time. Their bodies may reach maturation more quickly but not necessarily their minds and their emotional states. What pressures they must have as the biologic changes in their bodies outstrip the growth curve of their judgmental processes!

Decades ago education was swamped with various catch phrases that pointed us in new directions: It takes a village…; Top down support for bottom up reform; Just say No!, and Common Core.

In the arena which The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation has chosen to perform, there are some better, stronger phrases that I think applicable, ones that have been around far longer and are time-tested. Our stated goal is to reduce the number of child abductions. Consider these mottos from some of our armed services and how well they apply to our group:

This we will defend. The United States Army

Semper Paratus (Always prepared). The United States Coast Guard

Can do! The Seabees

We could not have better descriptors of our mission and our programs.

We are how we treat each other when day is done, today and tomorrow.

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.

Warning: Danger, Will Robinson!

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Some of us may be old enough to remember the Robot alerting the young Will Robinson to the peril of the week on Lost in Space. Such dramatic warnings are not evident in our everyday life. We are, however, silently blasted by alerts of varying alarm. Electrical devices and appliances all have warnings attached. Our medicines all carry warnings lest litigation is pursued. Leave your home and you might see Beware of Dog signs affixed to fences or gates. Get into your car and you see those lovely yellow signs alerting you to pedestrian crossings, curves in the roadway, numerous situations where caution is urged. Signs in red speak to truly hazardous possibilities on the street. Enter a building and caution is urged because of slippery floors. Signs on doors identify restricted areas. It’s amazing that Stan Berenstain’s Little Bear character was able to say I went to town, not, I’m never going anywhere ever again!

Recently my wife and I went out west and toured through Arizona and Utah, experiencing the wonders of the US National Parks at the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion. The park rangers hand out cards that urge you to

  • Please follow directions from park rangers – it will be for your safety.

 

    • Always remember that wildlife is just that – wild. If an animal feels cornered or trapped, it will protect itself.
  • If you’re heading off for a walk tell a family member of your timings and location.
  • If you are threatened by wildlife – stay calm; keep eye contact; back away; and do not run.

 

These safety alerts further state: Sometimes the best relationship is a long-distance relationship offering suggestions as to appropriate distances to stay from the animal inhabitants of the parks. There are no yellow or red signs to remind you.

For those of you who read our blogs and have seen our school presentations, the melding of these park ranger statements with our stranger safety message is close to 100%. Almost all the above (we, of course, urge any child in a situation with an aggressive or threatening stranger to RUN) can be adapted to our teaching points. Our goal is to empower a child in that particular, singular event when the child finds himself or herself ALONE and feels threatened. We want every child to be able to recall words or phrases that flash yellow warning lights in their brains or red flashing lights accompanied with siren sounds that prompt their bodies’ flight or fight response to the stress of a given situation.

Good teaching never ends. There are always teachable moments. Here are a few to stress about stranger safety awareness.

  • No matter how harmless a person appears, you cannot predict what they will do.
  • If the person changes their behavior as they approach you or seem nervous, stay very far away.
  • Don’t be fooled by flattery.
  • Do not pose for any pictures with a stranger.
  • Never approach a stranger.
  • Give a stranger space.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.  These words of the Dalai Lama are timeless. Would that his message seep into the hearts and souls of those among us who do otherwise to children.

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 in a Name?

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

The rhetorical question in the title was voiced by Shakespeare’s Juliet as she applied it to Romeo. I am sure you can recall or will remember the words that follow: that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Rose! That just happens to be the word I want to you to focus on today, that word and what I think lies in it. I’ll get back to it later.

Leo Buscaglia, a man whose works I have read and reread, said, I have been a teacher all my life. I have an intense passion to share with others. I wish I said that first! I worked with teenagers over 37 years of my life. I can still see lessons that had them focused on what I was going on about; I also knew when the dryness of my presentation let them down.

One of the important beliefs in my teaching was the necessity of preparing a strong foundation for my students as they went on to the next level of science. I always felt that a strong memory was an integral part of their learnings. Notice I said memory; I do not mean rote learning. Nothing is more unfulfilling than learning that is forced on someone without application, without context. A strong foundation is not built through rote exercises. The foundation of learning I see as similar to concrete, the stuff of many structures throughout the land. That concrete, a mixture of gravel, sand, lime and water can stand for ideas and skills (gravel), context (sand), and lime (the adhesive material brought into the students’ minds by all their educators-parents, guardians, teachers-that helps make sense of all this jumble). That foundation you can build on.

To be effective the learning must pull the students in and not push them away. They must leave the student wanting more. This is no easy task on a daily basis.

The academic year has already started or is about to start. The Rolling Stones sang, Start me up! I want you to sing that tune. I want you to feel that rhythm. I am giving you homework.

Let’s get back to Juliet’s rose. Remember how teachers gave you memory cues to help you recall other terms. Do you know what the word H-O-M-E-S represents? Of course, they are the first letters of the names of the Great Lakes. How about King Philip called out for good spaghetti? K-ingdom, P-hylum, C-lass, O-rder,       F-amily, G-enus and S-pecies are the groupings in taxonomy.

Now, let’s add R-O-S-E to our memory prompts. (I know, kind of obvious considering our foundation’s namesake, isn’t it?) I would like you to see this word and think the following Review One Strategy Engagingly! R stands for review, recall, refresh, reteach, rekindle and whichever term you wish. O means one and only one at a time (See? It’s going to be easy!). S stands for any of the stranger safety awareness skills and ideas that you can find on our website. In case you forgot or want them at your fingertips, here are a few:

  • Describe and demonstrate personal space.
  • Identify who can enter your child’s personal space.
  • Have a simple definition for stranger.
  • Go over how your child is to answer the door or telephone.
  • Have a secret password by which your child can identify a person who claims they have been sent by you to pick them up.
  • Help your child develop a plan in case they get lost in a store or mall.
  • Go over the proper response to an emergency.
  • Model the mirroring technique for maintaining a safe distance from a stranger.

E for engagingly should call to mind that you have been and are your child’s first playmate. Think positively. Don’t be so authoritative when presenting the safety ideas and skills. Use those cartoon voices that make your kids laugh. Ham it up. You know the kids imitate you. Furthermore, Buscaglia pointed out, I’ve learned that you teach best by modeling. If you want people to learn, do it! Act out Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Snow White taking that poisoned apple from the Evil Queen. Make up your own stories, but get the point across. You’ve done it before; you can do it again. Remember, parents and guardians, you are the first and most present teacher your child has had. The hope is that you double down on reinforcing these simple safety skills.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose is…Well, I’ll leave that up to you.

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.

Déjà Vu

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Taken from the French expression, literally meaning “already seen,” déjà vu is that eerie sense of “I’ve experienced this before.” This may occur from the current situation producing some clues that may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience.

In 2004, Central Florida TV station Local 6 reported that investigators found 11-year old Carlie Brucia’s remains between 12:45 a.m. and 1 a.m. on Friday, February 5th outside a church a few miles from the car wash where she was taken.

“Our prayers on behalf of everybody here in Sarasota County go out to the family,” said Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill in a press conference, naming Joseph P. Smith, 37, as the suspect who was charged with the girl’s kidnapping and murder. Smith had been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993, according to state records and convicted of drug possession and other charges. He was arrested in 1997 in Manatee County on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges, but was acquitted a year later.

Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said the TV report. Earlier it had been said that Smith, believed to be the tattooed man in a mechanic’s shirt shown in the surveillance video leading Carlie away by the hand, had not been cooperating during police questioning.

At a nationally televised press conference shortly after 7 on Friday morning, sheriff’s authorities announced, “We have found Carlie and the person responsible for her murder is in custody.”

Forrest Carr, in his February 17, 2004 article, Covering Carlie: A News Director’s Perspective, said

  • Some critics believe the media exploited Carlie Brucia.
  • We needlessly frightened parents and children… leaving people with a distorted view of reality and a feeling that the world is scarier than it really is.
  • I would venture to guess that every mother in America had a conversation with her child about strangers. Every parent I know had such a conversation. Every teacher I know did the same.
  • They had the conversations because for one heart-rending week, not just the community but the entire world was reminded that monsters do walk amongst us, and that we need to be aware of that. Telling children about this is not an easy conversation to have. It frightens them. Though painful, it’s an inoculation against a reality of life that many parents have come to feel is necessary. It is necessary. (Emphasis mine).

 

On May 31, 2017 twelve year old Naomi Jones was reported missing from her home. Last known contact with the child was by a friend who had texted her at 12:21pm that day. Police theorized that Naomi probably died within 24-36 hours of her abduction. Her body was found by fishermen on June 5th. The Sheriff’s department noted Naomi may have been a possible target through social media.

Several years ago I wrote a short blog entitled There be monsters! I spoke of imaginary as well as real individuals who inflicted unspeakable harm to children and their families.

Pensacola, Florida is located in Escambia County. The county’s Sheriff’s office Chief Deputy, Chip Simmons announced that a convicted sex offender, in prison for 15 years for two counts of sexual assault and rape, released from prison 4 years ago, was arrested. Simmons said, “We have caught our MONSTER (emphasis mine). We have caught the killer that took Naomi’s life-a twelve year old girl who had her whole life in front of her.”

That word, MONSTER, describes so clearly the revulsion the rest of society holds for these killers of children. As Forrest Carr said, the painful conversation between parents/guardians and the children they raise is NECESSARY. Carr described the dialogue as an inoculation. I am sure we all recall how we winced as the needle with the preventative medicine neared our child’s arm. I suggest it is time to have another such important discussion with our children. Dr. Charles Kolenik noted that booster shots of reminding and refreshing the concepts of stranger safety help keep the original inoculation strong.

These cases of déjà vu we can do without.

As always, and especially now with the freedom of summer vacation upon us, 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.

Countdown to Summer – Important Summer Stranger Safety Tips

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Summer is almost upon us. Here are a few tips to review with your children to help them stay safer as the days get longer:

  • Remind your children that they are never to go anywhere with a stranger – no matter the reason.
  • Create a secret word to share with your child that will only be used if you send someone other than yourself to take them anywhere. If the stranger cannot tell your child the secret word, your child is immediately to run to a trusted adult.
  • Always use the buddy system. Your child should always have a friend with them whether they are riding their bicycle, walking to the park or even hanging out in the front yard.
  • Beware strangers in cars, trucks or SUV’s offering rides. 

The moral of this story is for your child to never go anywhere with a stranger. Summer is a fun time to be enjoyed with friends – the more, the merrier!

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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