We Have Your Back!

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

There was a time when a song by the Rolling Stones, Start me up!, could encapsulate the annual anticipation I felt the night before school was to open for the new year. Today I wonder how parents and guardians are dealing with the so-called new normal that shadows people everywhere. Now, it seems to me a more appropriate anthem might be Puccini’s Nessum dorma, translated as No one is sleeping.

In the August 31, 2020 Zits comic strip a teacher addresses his class and says he is giving them a quiz to see how much they remember of last year’s work. That’s akin to the first ELA essay of the year, What I did on my summer vacation.

When Matt and I would make our presentations in local schools, we were often greeted by shouts of recognition from the children: Hey, I remember you! Call on me this time. Some children even called us by name. Some even inform us that we would not be able to trick them this year. Oh, the certitude of the young!

When I did some research on memory, I found some interesting points. For example, what we know controls how we store information, how we organize that information in our brains and how we get it out of storage. Also, there is a far greater retention of information if there is a familiarity with the material and that material has meaningfulness to us. (Can’t you just hear some high schooler asking the teacher about applications of the quadratic equation in everyday life?)

The isolation imposed by the potential for infection severely impacted all students’ performances. An unexpected teaching drought hit the planet and learning in the modern world suffered its worst year ever. But school isn’t just ABC’s. I recently spoke to a social worker who is the mother of a nine year old boy. She said that her son’s circle of friends has shrunken to the point that she worries about his coping mechanisms. She spoke of how playtime involves herself, her husband and son. “He needs friends of his age,” she said.

An opinion piece in Newsday, Sunday August 30, 2020 addresses the plight of special needs people who have been under continuous quarantine since the beginning of the pandemic.

Print and other media report of the increase on campuses throughout the country of new positive Covid-19 test results in collegians.

Newsday had published on August 23rd this year, Safety on the Sands. The article reported on the efforts by workers at Jones Beach to ensure social distancing. In an accompanying photo, a worker certainly appears to be using the same techniques Matt and I do to describe personal space: arms spread out in airplane mode.

How does this fit in with Rose Brucia and stranger safety? Gradually we will become more open, inching towards more socialization. I worry that after months of 24/7 contact with and oversight by parents and guardians, children might be a little too willing to get close to people, any person they initially deem as safe. I worry that our safety lessons can become pushed off the already monstrously crowded plate that families find on the tables in their homes. Asking you to do additional work is too much. Access our web site, www.rosebrucia.org and go to our list of prerecorded lessons. Use them if and when you can. We’ve got your back. If you use the lessons, encourage your child to ask questions. Rhymes or songs work very well with the primary grade students. You could try this Safety Skills Song to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:  

Someone Calls My Name

Someone calls my name

A person I don’t know

Unless they say the secret word

With them I’ll never go!

A stranger walks towards me

And takes a step or two

No nearer can the stranger get

I mirror what they do!

Additionally, you can have your children teach you the lessons they have learned. Anything helps.

We have your back. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Endure. Stay safe. 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.

Learned Lessons

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Life teaches hard lessons to the old and the young. Yesterday, my wife and I probably took for granted the usual, causal motions of the moment: Hugging our son, feeling the love in the hugs of his children, embracing dear friends, the handshakes of others. Add to those losses the quiet of our neighborhood, the disappearance of school buses on our roads, the silence of school playgrounds at recess, the exuberance of students rushing to board buses for the ride home. Further the drive to the local supermarket takes us past businesses we frequented but now fear will struggle mightily once reopened, that is, if they ever do. Never mind “No shoes, no shirts, no service”. Signs announcing limits to the number of shoppers at any one time in a store are everywhere. Gloves and masks needed for shopping make us more anonymous than ever. We feel the need to ask, who was that masked man/woman? The Lone Stranger is our guess.

We are amazed by the number of heroes in this world. Where do they find the courage to do what must be done? We are touched by the grief of families who have lost so much.

My father was born during the great pandemic of 1918-1920. Two siblings, a brother and a sister, both passed on the same day due to the flu. His story was not unique. The randomness of that disease and today’s scourge is the stuff of nightmares. My father, like many of his generation, spoke of graduating from the “school of hard knocks”. He told me you learned from life. Life didn’t learn anything from you.

The primary lesson taught by the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation concerns personal space. As applied to epidemics, it is called social distancing. With today’s virtual connections at one’s fingertips, it would seem difficult to keep social distance. I read an essay by a psychologist that suggested physical distancing as a more appropriate expression. Your daily actions reinforce our teaching strategy. Dorothy Nolte, author and family counselor, stated, Children do learn what they live. Then they grow up to live what they’ve learned.

There an awful lot of stuff on your plates right now. Maybe you are looking for some other resources to bolster your home schooling responsibilities, to give your child or children some relief from the sameness of the day. We offer the videos from our site as short breaks from the day’s lessons. Go to our site, www.rosebrucia.org, and check them out. Scroll under “Free Curriculum”. There are video lessons and lesson plans for Kindergarten, First and Second grades. Short in duration, hopefully engaging and age appropriate; make use of them as you will.

This crisis will produce knowledge about the world we live in and especially about ourselves. It has left its mark on us all, some more devastatingly than others. It is a very different world now where Be Safe and Stay Safe now mean the same as I HOPE to see you again. I can’t wait to be with you once more. 

Please 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.

The Off Chance

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

In days past, as I was sitting in the darkened movie theater, I watched and listened as the screen filled with an avalanche of popped corn with its signature popping sound. Then the sound of tinkling ice came as the cubes filled a glass. Soda loudly effervesced as it poured over the ice. Images not so subtly urging me to visit the refreshment stand are as old as movies themselves. These messages are easily dismissed as being the ever present nuisance I must sit through before the film begins.

It was what followed the advertisements that got me thinking: A picture of the theater with its exits along with this voiceover, In the unlikely event of an emergency…Aren’t all emergencies unlikely events?

Unlikely event? Given our population, certainly! Stephen King wrote, There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst. Ann Landers wrote, It is not what you do for your children but what you taught them to do for themselves. A former teaching peer often spoke of prior planning in formulating strong lessons. Planning does not guarantee success. Planning does develop a sense of confidence.

Before a hurricane season several years, my wife and I attended an emergency preparedness meeting at our local high school. We listened to town officials talk about power outages and local flooding potential. As we left the meeting, we were given a bright red backpack, our go bag courtesy of the American Red Cross. It included the Town’s Resident Guide to Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness, lists of essentials for families, supply suggestions for our car, for our formulation of an evacuation plan, for anything and everything aligned with our safety.

According to the FBI, in 2016 there were 465,676 entries concerning missing children in the Bureau’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC); in 2017, there were 464,324 entries. Doing the math, on average, there are about 1,270 or more entries per day concerning missing children in our country. In 2017, our population was 325.7 million people. I can do the math. The total entries for missing children reflect .1% of our population in these years. Doing research on the issue of child abductions, I come across statements on the net from people out there who claim groups such as ours, along with the media, overplay the frequency of child abductions, of school shootings, emphasizing fear over reality. If you are only into numbers, then, yes, that number speaks to your argument. However, the impact upon the missing child, the child’s immediate family, the child’s extended family, the friends, classmates, and the community becomes multiplied into a significant value that cannot be denied. The event, singular though it may be, has a rippling effect that can rock many groups.

At the Foundation, we urge informing and preparing your child for whatever emergency life may throw their way. They need their own go bag. We urge you to review in as an engaging manner as possible the following points:

Practice performing a formal introduction with your child. Give your child a strong idea of who a stranger is. Advise your child never to go anywhere with a stranger. Let your child know a stranger may be lying to them. Tell your child never to take a gift from a stranger. Teach your child to use the Buddy System and always go somewhere with a friend. Create a Secret Word with your child that must be used to identify someone who is sent by you with any message or suggestion to go with them. Insure your child can use 9-1-1 properly and easily. Play observation games to heighten your child’s awareness skills.

Our lives are more complicated today than ever before. At the Foundation, we hope our suggestions do not insult nor overwhelm you.

There is an old saying, Fool me once, shame on me. To be fooled by a dangerous stranger, by a predator just once, is truly more than enough.

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.

State of Mind

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It’s easier to let down your guard when the world is going at a merry pace, as the race towards the holidays is in full swing. An anonymous quote about safety goes like this: Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

During the past weeks on Long Island, there have been three particularly unnerving situations involving children with strangers. First came the classic attempt at an abduction by a man in a white van offering a child money if she would get into his car. Luckily, the child immediately ran away from the van and sought safety with known adults. Next a truly unsettling occurrence at a local movie theater played out. A mother had taken her daughter to a holiday movie. They were looking forward to some time to spend together. As happens so often, the child turns to her mother and says she has to go to the bathroom. As the girl descends the stairs and turns to exit the theater, the mother notices a man who was sitting alone turn towards the sound of her daughter’s footsteps, get up and proceed to exit towards the lobby. Something sets off the mother’s sense of unease; she leaves her seat and goes to find her daughter. She catches up with the man at the door and watches as he opens the door, looks out into the common area of the theater, turns and nods at someone in the hall. The mother moves past the man, sees another man in the hall near the restrooms. She enters the rest room to find her child visibly uneasy due to the situation. The mom takes her daughter with her to front desk of the theater and informs the management of her concerns. The man is asked to leave the theater and DOES. The mother’s uneasiness may have prevented something serious from occurring. The third of these distressing situations took place in a large shopping mall, in the girls’ department of a clothing store. Another mom was shopping with her daughter. She saw a man there who didn’t seem to be shopping but just hanging around. She made eye contact with him, asked what he was doing. He said he was waiting for his brother. He left. Later she ran across him in another store’s girls’ department, this time with a woman. With her daughter in earshot of the pair, the mom heard them examining the clothes and saying loudly how lovely so and so looked in them. Enough of this, the mother thought. Feeling uneasy, she took her daughter and left.

Is this due to the moms’ or the young girl’s Spidey Sense or Dread or Paranoia? Does it matter? Thankfully there were no physical confrontations. The moms and the girl did what they had to. The girl’s response is spot on. A child alone needs to be taught and have reinforced the simple mantra, If I don’t know I don’t go.   A child alone needs to quickly recognize the situation that presents itself and make the one and only response to the requests and lures of a stranger that is appropriate: RUN. Author Eleanor Everet wrote, Safety is not a gadget but a state of mind. The child in the theater and the mall was accompanied by a parent. At a certain age, most parents allow a child to use the restroom on their own. How disturbing must it have been to see and conclude that a grown man may be up to no good? Her instinct was to protect her child and she did. I know that taking two grandsons under the age of 6 at the time to the movies meant a group restroom visit always. The shopping expedition to the mall was well supervised by the mom. If your child is given permission to go to the mall, do they always leave home in a group, stay together in the mall, come home together? I hope so. Safety in numbers, you know. The Buddy System does work.

As parents and guardians, we cannot ever allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security about where we are, where our children are. Our eyes, our children’s eyes must be open and our defenses on alert. Safety cannot be conveniently recalled in moments of stress and/or danger. It should be instinctual. It is in our best interests to make it so.

The very best wishes for a very happy, healthy & safe Holiday Season from everyone at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation to you & your family!

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.

Amazing Fantasy #15

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

In 1967 The Troggs sang, I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. In 1969 BJ Thomas sang he was Hooked on a feeling. In 1976, the group Boston’s megahit was titled More than a feeling. In each case the lyrics acknowledged something rising from deep inside the human body, an almost primitive something sending signals from somewhere other than our brains.

Predating these recordings, a comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15 went on sale in August 1962. It introduced us to a new breed of superhero. Endowed with incredible strength and a hyper sensitivity to danger, Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, leapt into publication and history from the minds of writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko.
Spiderman, through the bite of a radioactive spider, was able to foresee impending danger through his newly developed tingling spider sense. Spidey-sense became part of the language of comic book fans. Did Lee and Ditko create this early warning system or did they just accentuate what they already knew about humanity’s instinct for self-preservation?
When do/did you experience butterflies in your stomach? The first recorded use of this expression was in 1908! In various articles written about the biology of our gut and the sensations it can produce authors refer to the gut as our second brain! From my inquiry into this phenomenon I found some quotes from anonymous sources that give parents, guardians, and teachers reasons to pause, reflect and maybe engage our children or wards in conversation.

Always trust your gut

It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet

Our gut feelings never lie the way people do

Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes

There is no need to explain or make sense of it. Just trust the little voice when it’s telling you to do so
Just how do we engage our kids in talking about this idea of instinctual response to a situation? Cats and dogs provide talking points about visceral responses to stimuli. We have all seen and heard a cat telling us it is not happy. The telltale arched back, the baring of the teeth, the guttural hiss, hair standing up on its back all alert us to an animal that is instinctually responding to an interior alarm system. Dogs pull back their lips, increase saliva production, growl, bark, have back hair stand up and become very territorial.

 
What about us humans? Chemical changes in our gut produce the fluttering effect of butterflies. We can all recall instances when this occurred: performing on stage in front of a group; looking down from a great height; asking a special someone for a first date; sitting for an exam; going to the doctor’s office; and so forth. On 13 September 2005 Julia Layton, for How Stuff Works.com, wrote How Fear Works. She noted the following changes that can occur in our bodies as over 30 hormones course through our bodies: heart rate and blood pressure increase, pupils in the eye dilate to take in as much light as possible, veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the “chill” sometimes associated with fear — less blood in the skin to keep it warm), blood-glucose level increases, muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps — when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them), smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs, nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions, trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from). This is all background for any discussion you have with your children.

 
I would ask a child to describe how they feel when they get butterflies. I would ask them to think back to the moments before they felt them.

 
I would also involve them in a discussion using universally known tales about children meeting strangers: Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White.

 
Have your children act out the story of Red Riding Hood for you. If they stumble, go ahead and take over the retelling; be outrageous. Overdo every part of it. Ask your child to describe the face of a wolf. Ask your child how Red would allow a wolf to have a conversation with her, why she would walk through the forest with the Wolf by her side. What was she thinking? Shouldn’t she have sensed something was wrong? Really emphasize the part of Red’s encounter with the Wolf in Grandma’s house: What big eyes you have! What big teeth you have! Ask your child, what do you think Red feels at that moment? How can Red not recognize the Wolf from having met him just a little while ago? Ask if Red is feeling something in her gut? Perhaps use the following expression: Our gut feelings never tell lies the way people do.

 
Snow White’s meeting with the Evil Queen in disguise as the old hag is truly a wonderful teaching moment for anyone concerned with stranger safety awareness. Snow White not only stops and talks with the hag/stranger but accepts an apple from her. Didn’t Snow White’s parents ever talk to her about NOT taking anything from a stranger? Snow White should give herself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives her bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. She should just trust the little voice when it’s telling her to do so.

 
The stories from our past, fairy tales, even ones about superheroes, give us opportunities for teachable moments about stranger safety awareness. It is too bad that some characters ignore their own Spidey Senses. Although the stories come with happy endings, our kids may get only one chance to respond to the feelings of discomfit in their guts. The fluttery feeling of butterflies can be used to reinforce one of the great tenets the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation has stressed but in a different way. Butterflies fly away at a moment’s notice. Children should also fly away, RUN away as fast as possible at a moment’s notice. The butterfly sensation is telling us something about the world around us: it knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet. Let’s make our kids as safe as we can. Let’s make an amazing fantasy a real world occurrence.

 

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.

 

See you in the funny pages!

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

 I am of an age that my first reading lessons involved the funnies or comics in various New York City daily newspapers. My mother would sit me at the kitchen table and go panel by panel through various strips pointing to and sounding out the words scripted in the balloons floating above the characters heads. Sunday’s edition was especially awaited because it was printed larger and was in glorious color. To this day I still read the funnies. With time and, ahem, maturity, there are fewer that I follow. These still bring chuckles, provide agonizing groans and surprise with poignancy.

I have been asked where I get the ideas for my essays. They come from so many different sources. A well- turned phrase in a novel, an editorial, a conversation, a reflection, a photo, a comic strip. On Thursday, May 30th, I was taken by the Wizard of Id strip. It was a three panel strip that had only one drawn character, the Wizard. If you didn’t see it, I’ll describe it for you: The Wizard is walking along a street. He is passing a sewer or storm drain. A balloon is floating above the sewer with its attached string leading down to the sewer grate. The Wizard produces his magic wand, points, touches the balloon. Zap! The balloon is destroyed. In the last panel he says, Not in my neighborhood, Chuckles!

This set off various threads of thought in my mind. My mind filled with many recollections: to Stephen King’s It; to the incredibly nasty, evil Pennywise feeding on the fears of children; to King linking the worst desires of this frightening villain to where he lives in the sewers; to Neighborhood Watch signs I see posted throughout American locales; to the See something. Say something! Campaign publicized on TV.

We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause American philosopher William James said. Count the Wizard as a good, good man. Sets a great example, he does. Mason and Marc Mastroianni, the team responsible for the current run of the comic strip, deserve our thanks for making such a brilliantly succinct point about what evil still lurks out there in the world. Additionally, you can check out the recent PBS Frontline documentary from May 28, 2019, Sex Trafficking in America. It is not an easy watch.

In a beautifully tender essay in the New York Times, Sunday June 2, 2019 Amber Scorah wrote about loss. The essay concerned her coming to grips with the unexpected death of her 4 year old son at a day care center. She wrote the child was a means of capturing immortality …I would die first and that made him immortal for me. Further, I will never know who my child would have been, but I know his love.

All this leads me again to the reason our foundation exists, the loss of a child through violence. We are diminished as John Donne would say. That bell is tolling to ask us to remember and to discover a connection between ourselves and those who surround us with their love in this time of loss.

As John Lennon wrote, There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. No one you can save that can’t be saved. It’s easy. Would that it would be easy! Here’s to the ongoing task of keeping our children safe in this day and age. It can be done. It isn’t a game. Save one child then another. Surely worth doing no matter the effort! See you around the neighborhood!

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.

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.

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.

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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