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.

 

Two Simple Words: Thank You

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It was another successful year for our annual golf outing. Over 240 people attended what started out as an idea to run “just a little golf outing with a few friends”. It was apparent from the beginning that there was more than a little interest in helping our free program to gain the funds it needed for our then-lofty aspirations to push our stranger safety awareness program nationally. Not only did we get a few interested golfers – we immediately were faced with the challenge of running a large annual gala that attracted over 200 people!

It warms my heart to know that so many rally together to fight against such an incredibly devastating, albeit statistically low probability event, such as child abduction. How on earth do you combat something you have absolutely no control over? How can you stop a pedophile from doing the unthinkable? With education – that’s how!

If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times over the last 12 years: We can’t do anything to stop a pedophile’s action, but we can absolutely teach our children what to do to avoid that pedophile when they make their intentions clear. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s Stranger Safety Awareness Program has been built to teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches a child. The program highlights important concepts such as the notion that not all strangers are dangerous; you can still talk to strangers but you NEVER go anywhere with them; common sense dictates that you never get something for nothing, so a stranger bearing gifts is to be questioned, to name a few.

The point I am trying to make is that even though we attempt to guard our next generation against potential horrors, we should take a moment to recognize that there is also plenty of good in the world.  If ever you waiver on the existence of good in the world, I invite you to attend one of the Rose Brucia functions.  After a few moments in a packed room with such warm, loving devotion to family and friends that come together with such a pure goal, you will most certainly have your faith in mankind restored.  There is good in the world and I experienced just a small sample of it tonight. Thank you, each and every one who attend our event each year. You make it possible for us to continue our free program and you prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is always light after darkness.

Carlie’s light still shines today because of your dedication and support. I am now, no longer just one guy who wanted to make sure that no other family would have to feel the devastation that his family felt. I am now, one guy with a board of directors of a national charity, with a volunteer organization of teachers, with a truly sound stranger safety educational curriculum that has a global reach, with hundreds of individual supporters, hundreds of friends and thousands of families, standing guard of a line that will no longer be easily crossed if a pedophile dares try…and I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you 🙂

 

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

 

 

Pokémon NO!

By Matthew J. Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It seems that Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation. It’s a very entertaining, enthralling game that really brings the world of video games to life. It’s all over the news how this game is causing accidents because the players are losing focus on reality. Let’s take a moment to discuss how this app can become extremely dangerous to our children.

The Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Program has a goal to increase children’s awareness to their surroundings. It seems that melding reality and gaming is now another blockade to keeping our children alert.

Some tips to share with parents & children:

  1. Agree on the proper times and places that such a game may be played safely.
  2. Discuss the possibility of allowing the game to be played with adult supervision.
  3. Have a meaningful discussion of the consequences of not paying attention to their surroundings, ie. walking out into the street, falling over a curb, tripping into another person, and of course, walking right into the hands of a predator.
  4. Remind children to walk with their heads up and eyes looking all around.
  5. Remember to keep a safe distance from all strangers. Not all strangers are bad, but the ones who want to hurt your children will be looking for an opportunity when they can strike. It only takes an instant to destroy what a lifetime of love has created.

Pokémon Go can be a lot of fun, just remind your children that all fun activities have a time and a place.

Be safe!

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

What’s Old Is Nothing New

By Matthew Barbis,

Founder & Chairman, The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Welcome to 2016! A new year with new possibilities and new directions! Out with the old and in with the new! If only that were the case with attempted child abductions.

As I write this blog on January 12, 2016, there have been 5 child abduction attempts within the last 12 days on Long Island alone. Luckily, they all had one thing in common…they were only ATTEMPTED. In all cases, the children knew not to go with the stranger. If you review every blog I have ever written, you will see a common message over and over again. Speak with your children. Teach them what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches. Check out our free videos. Encourage your local PTA organization to have our free program of videos and already prepared lesson plans added to your elementary school’s curriculum. Repeat those steps over and over. I sound like a broken record (and I want to).

Here is a refresher course for the new year:

Define the word STRANGER: Any person that you do not know.

Advise your child to NEVER trust or go somewhere with a STRANGER.

Discuss with your child that it is ok to speak with STRANGERS because not all STRANGERS are bad – but there is never any reason to go with a STRANGER, no matter their story.

Show your child that a STRANGER may lie to them or try to trick them.

Beware of STRANGERS bearing gifts – remind your child that you rarely get something for nothing.

It’s not about scaring your child. It’s all about educating your child about reality. The world is a wonderful place with incredible possibilities. Let’s limit one of the negative possibilities by giving your child an edge.

Be Safe!

 

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

10 Attempted Child Abductions in 10 Days

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman,

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

On July 11, 2011, 8 year-old Lieby Kletzky was abducted in Brooklyn, NY. Before then, the most famous NY area child abduction was when 6 year-old Etan Paitz was reported missing on May 25, 1979. There was a 32 year span between these highly publicized abductions, and while it was catastrophic to both families involved, most New Yorkers continued with their lives with the notion that child abduction might be something that really didn’t happen that often in that area.

Statistically, an abduction by a complete stranger is the rarest of events, making up about 21,700 of abductions by strangers vs. 200,000 abductions by family members each year (according to The US Dept of Justice 2010 Study conducted by Attorney General Eric Holder and The Department of Justice NISMART study 2002).

In 1996, The AMBER Alert System was placed into effect. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and also stands as a legacy to 9 year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and brutally murdered in Austin, Texas earlier that year.

In 2005, The US Department of Justice created CART (Child Abduction Response Teams) and pushed a nationwide initiative in hopes of responding quickly to incidents of missing and abducted children. On a very personal note, CART was created as a result of my 11 year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, being abducted and murdered in 2004.

Pretty somber statistics, stories and facts about very real children.

Stranger Safety has been gaining a lot of attention lately. If you live in the Northeast section of The United States, mostly you have heard about it happening in the rest of the country, but seldom had a local experience…until recently. As I write this blog, there have been over 10 attempted abductions, all by complete strangers in the New York/Long Island area in the last 10 days!

Here is a HUGE REALITY CHECK: It is not enough to have rapid response systems in place to help children who have been abducted. It is CRUCIAL to educate children, in a non-threatening environment, about the dangers strangers may pose. We MUST teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches. How can we expect children to make the correct choice when confronted by a stranger if we are uncomfortable discussing the topic?

Another important and vital statistic according to The US Department of Justice: In 8,000 failed child abductions attempts over the last 8 years, 83% of the time the child escaped because the child knew what to do!

1. Define the word stranger: any person that you do not know

2. Tell your child that strangers can be friendly and may even try to befriend them

3. Advise your child to NEVER trust or go anywhere with a stranger

4. Show your child that a stranger may lie to them or try to trick them

5. Beware strangers bearing gifts – remind your child that you never get something for nothing

Practice these five tips with your children. Start them thinking about the concepts. Review these tips often. Reinforce their importance. Visit http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads for free videos and lesson plans to further concrete the message.

Be certain that if a stranger in a van pulls up to your child that your child will know automatically not to trust them and not to go near them!

Be safe!

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

 

Tried and True

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

He checked himself one last time in the mirror. He thought he looked clean-cut. He practiced his smile in the mirror. He practiced looking sad. He knew from past experience this would work; it always worked. He would elicit empathy from his targets. He knew the secret to his success was to incorporate enough truth from his real life into his heart-breaking tale.

He looked at the children. He paused and said, Want to see a picture of my dog?” He had sought an image he felt might engage the children. He found it and several others readily on a shelf of blank note cards.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” he asked the children. He knew the dog really was pretty: a well-groomed golden retriever, seated on its haunches, holding some sort of blue/purple flower in its jaws, the contrast of colors perfectly captured by the camera. He watched as the eyes of the children focused on the photo.

“Her name is Belle,” he said. “Why do you think my wife calls her Belle?” he added. Always throw in the idea of a wife, he said to himself. That family unit thing lets the kids think I’m just a regular guy.

The little girl said, as he hoped, “Because she looks like a princess. Just like Princess Belle.”

He smiled at her. “That’s right. My wife loves the movie Beauty and the Beast. She thought Belle would be a great name for our dog.” He paused to let that sink in. He needed to paint a more complete mental picture of “his dog” for the kids. He took what he thought of as qualities of dogs he had owned or friend’s had owned or ones he had read about. He knew to keep the photo of the dog front and center, not to break the kids’ attention on “his precious pup.”

“Belle is a great dog,” he continued. Smile, he thought. Don’t forget to smile. “Why, she would want any one of you pet her. You would be her new best friend. She is so gentle my wife takes her to nursing homes to visit some people once a week. Belle even goes to hospitals to see children who are sick. She makes them smile. She even likes to sit down and have those children read to her. When she leaves, she wags and wags her tail and gives each child a big wet kiss. Can you imagine?” He watches as the children bob their heads in agreement. Now, he thought, now for the real heart tug.

“Belle has one problem, though.” Start frowning, he said to himself.  “She is very afraid of loud noises. She is really a scaredy cat with them. She can’t stand thunder. She runs and hides in my closet or in the bathtub when there is loud boom. Fireworks? Oh my, oh my! Fire crackers make her run around in circles, looking for somewhere to hide.” Look sad now. “Yesterday, my wife and I had Belle groomed. She looked so sweet. Our friend asked us to bring her over so she could see her. We put Belle out in our friend’s yard. A couple of fire crackers went off next to the fence. Belle got very frightened, jumped at the gate. It opened and she ran out. By the time we got outside we couldn’t find her. My wife was in tears. I’m going to go look for her.” Now set the hook. “Would you like to help me bring Belle home? I’ll give you a reward.”

The children said, “Yes!”

This storyline is one we have developed at the Foundation for our school presentations. Imagine this done in front of 100 or more children at a time. Now consider the fact that we get almost unanimous response from the students when we ask for their help. As one teacher gasped when she saw the terrifying agreement to help a stranger, “I can’t believe it. We talk about this all the time. I can’t believe they fell for it.” Fall, they do!

According to a news report, the abduction of the two Amish girls in Oswegatchie, NY, was facilitated by the abductors having a dog in their car.

Go over the story with your children or wards. Emphasize the need for your child to stay more than an arm’s length from a stranger, never to approach a stranger’s car for any reason, never to accept any handout or gift from someone they do not know. Practice and instill in your child the first response you want from them when they are approached by a stranger-he/she must get home, get to somewhere safe, where there is a trusted adult.

School’s open. These lessons do not require textbooks or manuals. The only requirement is that we talk to the children about these issues, any time, any place.

Be safe.

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

Teachable Moment

by Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator,

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teach your children well, now and always.

Be Safe.

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

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