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.

On a Personal Note…

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

I can remember when Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was published. I recall attempting to read and comprehend the work and gave up in frustration after my own brief time with it.

I recall sitting in classrooms where my eye would settle on the wall clock and note how gravity seemed to slow the upward movement of the minute hand from the half hour to the hour every day. I can still picture my students repeating their own studies of time in my class.

Ask a child who is anticipating some happy event in their life and a response about how time is dragging will be forthcoming. Ask an adult to reflect upon their life and the answer always involves a comment about the fleet passage of years.

Thirteen years seems, feels like a long time and yet something immediate. February 1, 2004 glides effortlessly between the timeline of the past and the immediacy of the present.

Two years doesn’t seem like a long time. It has been almost two years since my wife and I had visited the memorial garden at the Central Church of Christ on Proctor Road in Sarasota, Florida. You know it as the site where Carlie Brucia’s body was recovered. I am happy to say that the grounds of this garden are well maintained. The grass is mowed. The palm fronds are gathered and taken away. Netting has been placed over the stone bearing Carlie’s likeness and its adjacent pool. From the memorial plaques seen in front of the pool, you realize people still visit; Carlie’s story lives on.

Author N. Maria Kwami wrote, “but time soon passes. Even the deepest pain eventually looses its edge in the more vivid reality of the present; then, what once was unbearable becomes strangely familiar.  And after much familiarity, it assumes the insignificance of just another milestone, ever marking the journey to higher ground“.

In Love in the Time of the Cholera, Noble Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of “people…turning into memories, mists from other days, until they were absorbed into oblivion“.

The bleakness of these words is a blow to our hearts. Heartbreak refutes the concept of oblivion, familiarity and insignificance.

There is nothing familiar or insignificant about the loss of a child. Our Foundation works today and tomorrow and the next day to prevent other families from suffering this same heartbreak.

Standing in front of the memorial, my eyes could not miss a sign that Carlie had not passed into mists or oblivion. Poignantly, a single white candle. It’s flame flickering near the base of its tall glass column, gives notice that February 1st, 2004  is remembered.

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.

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation 2016 Year in Review

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you” – Althea Gibson

As we come to the end of 2016, it is natural to reflect back to the accomplishments of the year – and The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation has accomplished a lot this year thanks to its dedicated staff, volunteer committees, devoted supporters and sponsors!

The year started off strong with the foundation receiving a grant from Nature’s Bounty to film the remaining 22 video episodes to round out the free online program available across the globe. The summer kept us busy with the NYC PS summer program, Girl Scout camps and an important lesson developed as a result of Pokémon Go!.

As soon as filming started, courtesy of Nature’s Bounty, the educational committee, under the direction of Pat Chierichella, went to work on 9 new lessons to correspond to the 9 videos being produced by the volunteer cast members. Please put your hands together to applaud Joe Richetti, Giovanna Richetti, Natalie Pisani, Pat Chierichella, Lorcan Phelan, Cheryl Valentine, Mike Pepe, George Lozides, Craig Toman, Kristen Sullivan, Beverly Lee-Wo, Bobby Fagan, Mike Saidens, Nancy Giffone, Kathy Chierichella, Nick LaGrega, and Roni Yadeska for their fine performances in front of the camera. The 9 lesson plans were the foundation’s most ambitious undertaking since they were written not only to NY State standards for health & safety, but also written to common core standards! Special thanks to Dianne Muro, Nicholas LaGrega, Roni Yadeska, Nancy Giffone, Dawn Kollmer, Lisa Eaton, Lori Medina, Gina Heyder, Mike Pepe, Charlie Comstock, Mike Saidens and Dr. Ben Tieniber for all your effort and guidance with this enormous accomplishment!

The foundation’s 6th annual golf outing was a tremendous success. The hard work and dedication of the 2016 Golf Committee was apparent from the 116 golfers and 130 dinner guests who attended. Special thanks to Karen & Tom Brucia, Kathleen & Robert Chierichella, Patrick & Kathy Chierichella, Charlie & Maureen Comstock, Matthew Colson, Joe Coreno, Dr. Frank Favazza, Michael Gagliardi, Nancy Giffone, Rocky Grasso, Gina Heyder, Dan Kresh, Lori Ann LoRocco, Pat Magri, Jessica McAleer-Decatur, Lorcan Phelan, Mike Saidens, Joseph Schwan, Brian Simonetti, Ben Tieniber, Ron Trotta, CJ Twomley, Ray Kaminek , Cheryl Valentine, and last, but never least, Renee Barbis. We thank our sponsors who support the event to help provide funding for The Stranger Safety Awareness Program.

After the golf outing wrapped, preparations immediately went into the 4th Annual Rose Brucia Car Show under the direction of Joe Coreno & Novak Motors.  Thank you to each and every Novak employee for donating their time and energy to make the day extra special. Thank you Karen Aiello, Amy Baires, Danielle Barberio, Angela Bekker, Elizabeth Brunner, Jeff Cafaro, Dolores Calleja, Frank Cannizzaro, Nicole Capolongo, Raul Caraballo, Michael Castranuovo, Raymond Clinton, Cristian Conde, Dawn Connor, Ryan Coreno, Steven Davis, Amy Doberman, Miguel Escalante, Alex Felicio, Annalea Ferrari, Nicole Gordon, John Gribbins, Gregory Hampton, Dashawn Hurd, Ana Isaza Duque, Stephen Kundla, Raquel Lally, Joseph Messina, Scott Misino, Crystal Nifong, Krishna Patel, Brandon Paulino, Kayla Prass, Jeffrey Rivas, Melina Rosa, Kevin Schiffbauer, Stephanie Tracy, Christina Veltman and Lashanda White for revving up interest and participation in a great event!

October brought us to our Stranger Safety Awareness Week in New York State. The third week in October brought the foundation to over 2,500 students in five school districts locally, averaging two live performances per day for 7 days. It has become a tradition to present in these districts for the last 12 years and we love visiting the students each year.

The foundation’s main vehicle, the online Stranger Safety Awareness Program, which is available to every elementary school, teacher and family across the globe, was downloaded 3,112 times over the course of the year as of December 13th, 2016. The program is being utilized in over 92 countries across the world and is available in two languages, soon to be expanding to four languages.

A very big thank you goes out to the Executive Director of the foundation, Maryann Brucia-Barbis. Maryann keeps operations running on a day-to-day basis and juggles all the projects of the year along with all the visions, plans and goals of the foundation. She handles and oversees every detail of the golf outing, records and thanks every generous donor for each donation received into the foundation and keeps all committees organized. It is an exceptional job performed by an exceptional person.

Finally, to our family, friends, sponsors and donors: we would never be able to have all these exceptional accomplishments without your generosity. Whether you have donated $10 or $10,000, your kindness and philanthropy allows us to drive the program forward, reaching more and more children. We thank you for your support and renew our commitment to reduce child abductions.

Best wishes for a very Happy & Healthy Holiday Season with positive thoughts for a very Happy & Safe New Year ahead!

 

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.

 

 

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.

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