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.

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.

 

Wish you were here!

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Luddite : noun, a person opposed to new technology or ways of working.

Lurker:  noun, a person who lurks, in particular a user of an Internet message board or chat room who does not participate; an observer.

In terms of fashion or technology, my family claims I am woefully behind the times in both areas. They joke I purchased a leisure suit on the last day it was in style. Similarly, they point out how I refused for years to use a cell phone. I hated (and still hate) the ability and/or need for anyone to attain instantaneous contact with another person at any given moment. Over time, I begrudgingly accepted my conversion to the utility of messaging.

I confess that former Luddites can and do regress. It’s like a flare up of a dormant disease. I know it’s 2019. Adapt or face the consequences. Yet I find comfort in my belief that there is something so incredible, so undeniably creative about putting pen in hand and pen to paper, structuring your thoughts to reach out and communicate, connect to another in so reflective and personal a manner. The written word! The letter! The postcard! The POSTCARD?

When was the last time you sent or received a postcard from a relative or friend? Remember the frequent message inscribed on them? Wish you were here.

My wife has shown me the visual postcards she scrolls through on her Facebook page. I read in my mind their electronic inscriptions: Look here. See me. Some draw smiles. Others make me shake my head in disbelief. Since I offer no comments, I realize I am a lurker.

My wife has shared beautiful postings celebrating life: its love, humor, tenderness, longing, accomplishments. I have viewed posts of families celebrating the passages we all wish to commemorate. Look, there’s the newborn, the toddler, the first day of school. There’s someone with their BFF, at their prom, their high school graduation, all grown up with their parents and grandparents. They all seem to say to me, Don’t you wish you were here? How plaintive these moments in time must seem to the families such as the Brucias.

It is ironic that the first platform for Facebook (available only to students at Harvard University) debuted on February 4, 2004, three days after Carlie’s abduction. Her social media presence will always be missing.

February 1, 2019 is the fifteenth anniversary of Carlie’s passing. Wish you were here, Carlie.

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.

 

Pass/Fail

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Questions are posed by students that never fail to amaze me: Is this on the test? Why do I have to learn this? (As a counterpoint I found the following bit of information incredible: At 88, on his deathbed Michelangelo’s supposed last words were, “ancora imparando”- “I’m still learning”). Can you tell me when I’m gonna use this in real life? How can you expect us to know this stuff? Do these sound familiar to you in your role as parent, guardian and educator? Children are nothing save pragmatic. Every kernel of Science, English, Social Studies, Math, and so forth must have a practical purpose. Students focus during review classes; they attend extra help sessions. Inevitably one or two will say upon receiving their grades, I studied the wrong stuff.

Parents like numerical grades. Numbers give them that grit, that meat, that concrete evaluation of performance. So do letter grades. However proud my dad was of my report card, he would always add a caveat: There’s room for improvement. And so, the next day would begin the quest to repeat or improve my scholastic skills.

Robert Fulghum, author of Everything I Needed to Know I learned in Kindergarten, suggested these basic ideas among others are the underpinnings of what enables us to grow, thrive and survive.

Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned–the biggest word of all–LOOK. (And there are no exams!)

These beliefs are simple, commonsensical, in and of themselves harmless, written in a feel good way that captured people’s psyches. It vaulted to the top of the New York Times best seller list in 1989. That was almost 30 years ago. The world appeared simpler and safer.

Real life, as students like to call it, will provide situations for them that leave no room for improvement. It is one thing to study for a quiz, a unit exam, a practical, or a final and receive a numerical or letter grade. It is a totally different evaluation when a stranger attempts to enter a child’s personal space; there is only one chance without possibility of a retest: it is Pass or Fail. This test can be taken at any time in anyone’s lifetime. Just scan the news for the past months and read the ages of those encountering sexual predators: preteens, teenagers, and college-aged students!

In Robert Fulghum’s list, certain words stand out in relation to stranger safety awareness: Watch out; Stick together; and LOOK. Awareness is learned more by copying a parent’s behavior than by a structured lesson in a classroom. Emphasizing the Buddy System is not only smart in school hallways but when allowing a child freedom of movement to visit friends or playgrounds. Playing games such as I spy with my little eyes from an appropriately early age develop a keener sense of one’s surroundings. The emphasis on who might enter a child’s personal space cannot be overemphasized. Fulghum’s view, Don’t take things that aren’t yours, might be used as a discussion starter between parent and child concerning invasion of personal space. This all comes down to preparation for a test, possibly a once in a lifetime test, that a child must PASS.

People are welded to the present. In the here and now a person must act. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of Business, wrote in a book review for the New York Times, Since you’ll never have enough information to make the best choice, all you can do is make the best of the choice you’ve made. The task as parents, guardians and educators is to engagingly, quietly, and assuredly prepare our children as best we can for something we hope never happens. A former peer loved to opine the five P’s: Prior planning prevents poor performance.

WATCH OUT! STICK TOGETHER! LOOK! Well stated.

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.

Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week Coming Up

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Next week kicks off Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week in New York State. The calendar is packed with live presentations, the website has been humming with downloads of the free curriculum and the foundation is buzzing with excitement for the broadcast of PIX11’s broadcast of Tamsen Fadal’s Changemakers, highlighting the foundation’s work regarding stranger safety.

Each day next week, we will be dropping a blog about a different stranger safety awareness tip to help open the discussion with your children about the dangers strangers may pose. We stress the importance of never going anywhere with a stranger – an all too common theme on the nightly news as attempted abductions seems to happen at an increased rate as of late. Please check in with http://www.rosebrucia.org over the next week and pass along our blogs and lessons to your local PTA organizations and elementary school principals.

In a world that seems to be a little short on kindness, we like to remind children that you may talk politely with strangers, but you must never go with a stranger. Anywhere. Ever.

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.

 

Make it so!

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Just the other day, September 18th, Matt and I presented two sessions to students an elementary school on Long Island. In the first session, kindergarteners, first graders and second graders in attendance, we spoke of issues concerning personal space and the need to be aware of just who the people you are near to are. Our second session, third graders, fourth and fifth graders, dealt with internet safety.

That evening, I listened to a news item concerning an internet sting operation that New Jersey police had successfully enacted wherein twenty-four, TWENTY-FOUR, potential child predators were apprehended. Today in the Long Island daily, Newsday, police captured a recently released violent offender who had wantonly murdered a coed in Ames, Iowa. According to the article, the alleged predator had spoken about how he wished to “rape and murder a woman.” Previously the similar murder of Mollie Tibbetts had played across the airways, print and social media.

Matt has told me often of comments he has received from other child advocates that our mission was too narrow; that we had to address the issue of predators being familiar to their victims. Others have said we were alarmists in promoting fear of strangers in parents and thereby children. We are not burying our heads in the sand concerning the overwhelming issue of child abduction by persons known by the children. We are responding yesterday, today and tomorrow to what so achingly ravaged a family, the Brucia family. If the news items above don’t speak to the legitimacy of our mission, I ask the doubters to look again.

I leave you with this:

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide.  As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.  Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.  The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make”?  The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”.

THAT ONE! As Jean Luc Picard, captain of the USS Enterprise, echoing the commands of his predecessors in the British navy, would say to his crew, MAKE IT SO!

Be safe! Let all of us make it so!

 

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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