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.

On a Personal Note…

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Founded by Matthew J. Barbis after his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, FL in 2004. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction. Utilizing puppets and a formalized educational curriculum, the foundation provides elementary-aged children with the Stranger Safety Awareness Program, free of charge. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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.

 

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.

The Non-Profit Voice Interview – Rose Brucia

Catch up on the latest happenings and learn some of the history behind The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation during the latest radio interview of The Non-Profit Voice with Founder & Chairman, Matthew Barbis and Educational Coordinator, Patrick Chierichella.

 

 

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.

Imagine This: Part 4 and final lesson of 4

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Something that’s given or is it earned? Adults develop many ways of defining and bestowing respect on others. For children, it is more than likely to be a question of responding to an adult’s authority.

Childhood is a time when we see such tremendous changes in a child’s size, strength, agility, thinking skills, and socialization.

According to Marlene Dalley, “Most abductors are usually highly skilled in the art of manipulation. More simply expressed, in order to be successful, they must lower the children’s inhibitions or make them afraid of the consequences if they do not comply”.

In Missing Children: A psychological approach to understanding the causes and consequences of stranger and non-stranger abduction of children, James N. Tedisco, an Albany area New York State assemblyman and psychologist Dr. Michele Paludi wrote, “They (abductors) use seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, motivation techniques, and threats to get children to comply with their requests to engage in sex, steal, abuse drugs, or participate in prostitution or pornography”.

Further, they write, “Children often believe that they can easily identify an abductor –someone who is sinister and offers ‘goodies’ . . . children are taught to respect adults, especially adults’ authority, and to only talk to people who look ‘nice’.  Children that are more vulnerable to stranger abductions are the quiet, thoughtful ones; children who appear to have special and intense needs for adult affection and approval”.

Psychology professor at Nicholls State University, Dr. Monique C. Boudeaux’s research has included child abduction and homicide, and child victimization. In a 2001 article she noted, “Child victimization appears to be quite dependent on the age of the victim and the motivation of the offender. Offenders generally select victims that hold some kind of significance to them…Routine activities most often bring potential victims and offenders together. Crime is most often a result of interactions between motivated offenders, available targets, and lack of vigilant guardianship to prevent crime . . . often, it is this vulnerability, coupled with ease of access that is apparent to offenders and serves to elevate their interest in children as desirable prey”.

Dr. Boudreaux writes of John Walsh saying he wished both he and his wife had “spent more time encouraging my son (Adam) to respect his safety instead of respecting adults’ authority”. Further he says, “If I had taught him to scream, he might be alive now.”

Obviously, research shows that these predators do their homework. We just have to do ours better.

Imagine This! Part IV: I Can’t Believe How You Have Grown!

You paint this picture for your child: Playing in front of our house or just down the block, you hear someone (a man or a woman) call out to you. You hear your name and look at the person. You see they are neatly dressed. The person calls out your name again, smiles at you while shaking his/her head slowly side to side. You hear, “It is you. My, you have gotten so big. I can remember when your father called to tell me how proud he was to be a daddy. And your mom? She told me how she cried happy tears when she held you for the first time.” The person walks closer and closer to you.

These are a few questions to discuss with your child:

  • What is your first reaction to hearing your name and our names? Do you stop to listen to the person?
  • Since they know your name, do you talk with them?
  • Since they know my name, do you talk to them?
  • What if the person tells you he/she is looking for our address?
  • What is mirroring?
  • What is personal space? How big is your personal space?

It is a truly worrisome to realize that in this day and age a parent needs to take time to develop a stranger safety awareness strategy for his/her family. I hope these few scenarios have helped underscore your own awareness philosophies.

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.

 

 

Imagine this! Free Stranger Safety Awareness Lesson

 

by Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

When I read about the newest and best way to teach, I think back to all the different modalities of learning and teaching I was supposed to embrace and become proficient with during my three and one half decades of teaching. I always find it amazing that the change comes imposed from on high and swamps parents along with their children. There are workshops for teachers by instructors, textbooks publishers, testing preparers and teaching guides to facilitate instruction. Are there any materials prepared for parents to use to support this new paradigm of instruction?

With this in mind, I’d like to give you parents and caregivers some materials you might use to help enhance your children’s stranger safety awareness skills. As I read through multiple books dealing with stranger safety awareness, there are several scenarios that appear frequently. I will address one situation in each of my next blogs and suggest questions that you and your child may discuss. Each is a stand-alone dialogue I call Imagine this! There is a short description of the scene and then several follow-up questions that you can use to develop a meaningful discussion with your child. Adapt as you see fit. Add questions. Change the location. Use it as a template. Use it as reinforcement of your family’s stranger safety awareness plans.

Imagine This – Part I

You hear this -“Your mom said to come with me”.

You get off the bus. Mom is not there but a classmate’s mom tells you to go with her. Tell your child that he/she will have to decide on their own what to do after he/she answers these questions you ask of them:

  • Did Mom say she wasn’t going to be waiting for you at the bus stop?
  • Since you know this person, do you go with her?
  • Is there a special question you ask this person?

What do you think your child’s decision will be? What is your child’s decision? What are the reasons your child gives for making these decisions? Validate the correct answers and address what you consider problems.

Along with all the other aspects of a year’s learning curve, I hope this doesn’t add too much additional stress. We cannot get to every school, into every classroom. What remains true is that the best classroom is still where we call home.

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.

 

 

Stranger Safety Awareness Week is Coming…

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

The third week in October in New York State has been designated “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week” by NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo in Resolution K 1252-2011.  To gear up for this very important week, we will be posting various public service announcements, free video lessons, free lesson plans and blogs that can be shared by all to help educate children about what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches.  Please check our website at http://www.rosebrucia/.org, follow us on twitter at @strangersafety , and like us on facebook .

Here is the first of many public service announcements by the actor and child safety advocate who kicked off our celebrity Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Campaign: Kevin Sorbo!

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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