Don’t Tell Your Mother

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

My college aged granddaughter and her friends love horror/thriller movies. The scarier the better, she tells me. These films, according to psychologists, can provide catharsis of suppressed aggression, an adrenalin rush, pure excitement, curiosity, intense emotions, and dispositional alignment, a concept in which the viewer enjoys the violence visited on those the viewer feel deserve it. Wow! As a teenager I loved the old school Universal Studios monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man. I am not a big fan of the genre, but will sit through one, waiting to be scared, then being surprised when I am startled. As I have aged, the appeal of horror films has greatly diminished.

Do you like scary movies? Recognize the quote? Horror film buffs will remember it as the opening of the movie, Scream. The phone rings and Drew Barrymore picks it up and hears that line. In another thriller, When a Stranger Calls, a young woman answers the phone and hears, Have you checked the children?

When I started writing this blog, those two lines of dialogue immediately came to my mind. Phone calls in both films introduce the dread that is about to impose itself upon the actors who answered. Reread those lines of dialogue, so effectively spooky, so ominous! In the former instance, a stranger implies you are about to participate in your own existential nightmare; in the latter, a nightmare beyond belief has already unfolded.

The first principle of stranger safety awareness that Matt and I present to school assemblies is the concept of personal space. We ask student volunteers to demonstrate wordlessly what this idea means to them. We attempt for a child to be able to easily describe the space around them using extended arms to make visible to all the sacred area that no one may enter without the child’s permission. We ask the children to name people they would allow into their personal space. We believe it is an effective teaching method. Any story, any fairy tale that uses a ruse by a stranger to get near a child is exploited by us.

Read the newspapers and you will understand why I get apprehensive that times have changed so quickly that we have to up our game. The instant communication of today amazes and dismays me. Letter writing seems so quaint and archaic. Texts with emojis and phonetic abbreviations glut messages from those younger than I. Voicemail, mostly unwanted and unsolicited, fills answering machines no matter that your number is on a state no call list!

Here’s a sample of what I mean. This headline appeared in Newsday, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. The article below the banner filled half a page.

Voicemail left for girl helps nab sex predator

 Astute mom, LI police lead to capture in Calif.

How’s that for sending a shiver down your spine? The registered sex offender who has done this phone tag before had made a call that was answered by an 11 year-old girl. Think of the odds of dialing THAT number! The apprehended predator said he was calling random numbers and the girl’s voice sounded young. He had warned the 11 year-old not to tell her parents. The mother luckily overheard part of the voicemail and took the phone away from her daughter. She then purchased a phone app she used to unblock the predator’s phone numbers.

The concept of personal space must be updated. How much more personal is the space when a complete stranger can be invited into it with a simple hello? The whispered message of a predator does not easily recede from the mind. The sex offender was arrested through the teamwork of Long Island’s Garden City Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on felony charges of making criminal threats, attempted child molestation and annoying or molesting a minor.

Many years ago a fellow teacher told me he was giving up all his coaching duties. Why, I asked. When the kids were younger, he said, I could actually believe that I didn’t need to be there 24/7. Trust me, he added, as the kids age you have got to be there more than ever.

Parent involvement matters. Who knows what message might hook your child when a strange message is heard. I think the following partial list of expressions that might be heard forms the basis for a good conversation with your children concerning messages from unknown sources. You can call them warning sounds, bells, or whistles. Tell your children that should they hear any of these statements in a message, they must immediately tell you. You must tell the police. Use any, some, all of these statements or one you believe focuses your child’s mind on the danger lurking on unsolicited calls.

  • I’m here for you.
  • You’re so funny.
  • You have great ideas.
  • I would love to spend time with you.
  • You seem very smart for someone your age.
  • You are so impressive. Will you show me how you did that?
  • If I hurt your feelings, will you forgive me?
  • We have a lot in common.
  • I really think we should meet.
  • You’re really cute. How about sending me your picture?
  • I believe in you.
  • I’m proud of you.
  • Go for it! Don’t let anybody hold you back!
  • I really, really like you.
  • Are your parents as clueless as mine were?
  • What we have may be special. How about we keep it just between you and me?
  • I love you.

 

Do you like scary movies? Have you checked the children? These classic movie lines thrill and chill, for sure. Now, if we add a real life predator’s plea, Don’t tell your mother, how much fear does that instill?

Stephen King had one of his characters realize Grownups are the real monsters!

Being safe takes time, effort, patience and vigilance. You’ve got to be there more than ever. What a world!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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