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.

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.

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.

 

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.

Teachable Moment

by Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator,

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

The best teaching, that “aha moment”, often comes from in that serendipitous instance when teacher and student simultaneously and precisely communicate on the same wavelength. Think back to Henry Higgins proudly saying proudly of Eliza Doolittle, “I think she’s got it!”  A flash of insight provides a moment for the teacher to help construct a meaningful concept for the learner. A seemingly unrelated query (Mr. C, this has nothing to do with this topic.) elicits a pointed response from another student that propels a class period-long discussion on the unrelated but thought provoking topic. Something thought, heard or seen ignites the launching point for learning.

Case in point: Paddington. My wife and I had taken two of our grandsons to see this movie. The audience was greatly varied: parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, AND couples of different demographic groups scattered throughout the theater. It was thoroughly entertaining. But my reason for citing the movie as a teachable moment rests on the following sequence: Paddington is standing on a London train platform with the sign: Someone please take care of this bear, around his neck. The father of a family notices him and says to his children, Stranger danger! He proceeds to quickly rattle off why he believes his family should distrust this bear.

What a great instance to be used to bring home the importance of being alert and wary of strangers to our families! Consider all the ways the meeting with this stranger could go: he can be totally ignored; he can be approached and studied as something out of the ordinary; he may say he is in need of assistance; he may say he needs money; he may reach out to touch their hands; he may be engaged in conversation. How would you want your children to handle the situation? A whimsical story provides the teachable moment. Why not use it?

Patrick O’Malley, a psychologist from Fort Worth, Texas, wrote Getting Grief Right, for the New York Times Sunday Review on January 11, 2015. He states we should not give credence to ideas of closure and stages of grieving. The author describes three chapters to the story of loss:  the first pertains to a person’s closeness to the one lost; the second concerns the particulars of the “death event”, especially if the event is premature and traumatic; and third, what you do when the world moves on and you are left to grieve alone.

Why am I relating these points? February 1 marks the eleventh anniversary of eleven-year old Carlie’s passing. The grip of sadness around some hearts remains as intense as it ever was; it is unrelenting. For others, intensity of loss is replaced with an empty spot in the heart/soul.

For those who never met her, never heard her voice, her laughter, or saw her smile, she remains a cogent reason to continue to do what we do. She is the reason we look for those teachable moments.

Teach your children well, now and always.

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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