Defying Gravity

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

 

I believe you remember this fable by Aesop:

A scorpion meets a frog on the bank of a stream and the

scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back.

The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”

The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

 

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,

the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of

paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,

but has enough time to gasp “Why?” The scorpion says

“It is my nature…”

          While the recent Newsday article trumpeted a recidivism rate around 3% for three years after a convicted sex predator has been released, my mind goes back to a conversation I had with a clergyman this past April. He sorrowfully noted a man he had known for years had been removed from his church office because he had been convicted as a child predator. This acquaintance had absolved himself of all blame because he felt there was nothing wrong, morally or legally, with his behavior. It was the way he was made. I guess nature tops nurture in that case. Tell me how to deal with that mindset.

When I taught physical science, I would present information about the forces of nature to my charges. Students would present so many instances they had gleaned from TV or the misconstructed ideas they had formed about the natural world. Newton, I am sure, must have had so laughs when he heard our discussions. My favorite to this day concerns The Case of the Falling Elevator. It is very possible my students came to class with fully formed concepts about gravity based upon the behavior of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner and Daffy Duck. Thank you Warner Brothers! Concerning the elevator in distress: my students would argue that, should they find themselves in a rapidly descending, out of control car, they would only have to watch the lights indicating the present floor level, wait and jump just before the car hit the bottom of the elevator shaft! I always told the kids, you have to obey gravity; it’s the law!

How naïve their preconceptions! But chalk it up to youth and imagination! But when a local newspaper article reports recidivism rates at “only 3%”, tell me how you would feel if your child, grandchild, nephew, niece, neighbor’s child, or any other child is included in that 3%? When is the number statistically relevant?

A recent song by the Goo Goo Dolls, Come to Me, includes the lyric, History’s like gravity. History has weight; it has substance. Georges Santayana wrote about those ignoring the past being doomed to repeat it.

Learning is an always thing. We cannot simply open our charges minds; pour in correct thinking along with right actions. Learning needs reinforcement.  The trick is to make learning stranger safety awareness skills games that can be continually revisited.

Small things can make a difference. Here’s something that you might find helpful. First, go over the meaning of personal space. Have your child stand and physically describe their personal space. They should spread their arms out to the side and turn slowly back and forth to show their space. Write the letters D, E, R, U, T, T, and S on index cards or pieces of paper. Have your child(ren) spell out as many words as possible with these letters. Hopefully they will get to the word, T-R-U-S-T-E-D. Go over with them why they can call someone “a trusted adult.” Your home and therefore your rules and definitions! On a sheet of paper, print in large letters, T-R-U-S-T. Stress to your child the idea that trust is a bridge one person makes to another person. Draw or have your child draw a figure of a person on each side of the word. Draw a line over the top of each letter and reinforce the idea of the “BRIDGE’ from one side of the word to the other. Ask the child to identity the middle letter of the word. The “U” represents the child. Tell them YOU are the center of the activity we call TRUST. Ask them what would happen to the “bridge” if the letter “U” is removed. Hopefully they’ll say the bridge is broken, does not stand, or the bridge is incomplete. Tell them that without “U/YOU”, there is no chance of trusting someone. There can be no bridge.

If there is one word to be stressed over and over again, it is T-R-U-S-T! Say it loudly and often.

I wish I could come up with some rhyme based on Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” something based on the idea of would you trust them in a car. Maybe one of you out there can help us.

We cannot defy gravity. We CAN give our children the skills and wherewithal to fly safely into their future.

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.

‘Tis the Season

By Patrick M. Chierichella,

Educational Coordinator, The Rose Brucia Educationall Foundation

Let’s look at some of the advertising language that I saw in promotions used to describe this year’s cinematic presentations:

  • Spectacular! (The Hunger Games)
  • The Year’s Best Movie! (12 Years a Slave)
  • The sharpest comedy in years! (American Hustle)
  • A movie to watch for the rest of your life! (Nebraska)
  • He (She) gives the performance of a lifetime! (Choose your critic and make your pick!)

Ah, the season of excess, the yearly verbal indulgence in hyperbole! It is simply one of the ways the media uses to describe success. They know it when they see it.

I gleaned these tidbits from all the newspapers I read and scanned over the weekend. Publicity people know how to choose the correct words to help persuade the audience to take a chance and pay their hard earned cash to spend a couple of hours in the dark in a willing  suspension of disbelief in hopes of being amused, moved or frightened. It is success at the box office that drives the marketplace. Movie companies, actors, actresses, directors, distributors and movieplexes are all truly happy when the box office results for their films total several millions sometimes over 300 million dollars.

Happy! I tried to look up the derivation of the word; it is commonly thought to come from the word “hap” which means luck or good fortune. So, I guess, it is properly used with the movie industry, a good fortune is made by the studios.

Elsewhere, from an article from the New York Times on Sunday, December 15th titled, A Formula for Happiness, by Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC, I lifted this sentence: After 40 years of research, they (social scientists) attribute happiness to these major sources: genes, events and values.

That sentence gave me pause. It set me thinking about our Foundation. How can these sources deal with issues of stranger safety awareness and child abduction? How can happy be applied to this frightful situation?

Let me try to make my case for the antonym, hapless.

As I do research on the mindset of child predators, the one thing that keeps coming to the fore is that they are wired differently than you or I. These feral, amoral beings are out there. Something happened prenatally to these people to make them the way they are. Physically they may resemble you or me. But some disturbance occurred in their brains that predisposed them to harm children. Mental illness or psychosis, it doesn’t matter. They are different. This is not excuse for the crimes they commit. They know they are committing criminal acts. They know they are pariahs. The sooner we recognize this the better we will be able to formulate programs early in our children’s educational and psychological growth that provide a touchstone for stranger safety awareness skills. Brooks notes that up to 48% of happiness is hard-wired in our genes.

Books reports: Up to an additional 40% comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past. When will the passing of a child not be the recent past for any of us?

So, let’s see if my math is correct? 40% + 48% is 88%, leaving us with up to 12% of happiness defined by our systems of values? The perpetrators of sexual assault, changing forever a child’s view of life, and those that go so far as to murder their captives have no system of values, no superego or conscience influencing their ids or their reptilian brains, that any right-thinking person can understand.

Carlie, Leiby Kletzky, and Jessica Ridgeway were all hapless, without luck or without good fortune.

But the Rose Brucia Foundation and similarly minded groups are happy or blessed to have within their membership a value system that drives them to say NO MORE! ENOUGH! NOT ON OUR WATCH!

At this time of year I want to thank all the people who are working to strengthen our children’s stranger safety awareness skills. My thanks to

  • Matt Barbis deserves any and all accolades that come his way. His vision and drive are the heart and soul of this organization. To his wife, Renee, for her belief in him.
  • Maryann Barbis does yeoman like service in keeping all our records up to date and us in contact with each other.
  • The education committee continues to work in the shadows, preparing lesson plans that align with our newest state standards.
  • Lorcan, aka Smarty Pants, and all those involved in the production of our 2nd grade set of stranger safety awareness DVD lessons
  • Mike Pepe and Charlie Comstock for stepping up to teach classrooms and auditoriums filled with eager children
  • Dr. Charlie Kolenik for his encouragement, input  and review of our lessons and opinion papers
  • The prize committee for all their hard work (and my wife for putting up with me)
  • All the volunteers, sponsors, golfers and dinner guests who made our third annual outing so successful
  • Pat Abrams and the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue Team for reaching out to us to form an educational partnership
  • Loriann LaRocca for her powerful essays
  • All the PTA presidents and members that took our materials for school and personal use at this year’s PTA Conference in Columbus, Ohio
  • The principals and teachers and PTA’s in Great Neck, NY, and New Jersey who invited us in and then back again for repeat performances- your faith in us makes us want to do even better.

So I guess I made my own Best of 2013 without really thinking about it.

The end of the years is never complete without some resolve on our part to make ourselves and the world around us a little better. Use the video lessons. Connect to other websites and see how they deal with the issue. Ask your local PTA’s to consider having us make a parental presentation in your school. We may even be able to schedule a presentation for your children’s school. The worst they can say is NO. But at least give them the chance.

My wish for 2014 is for you and your children and grandchildren, all children to BE SAFE. See you in 2014!

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.

Into The Lion’s Den

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

Today, I had the opportunity to join the audience for the newest lesson added to The Stranger Safety Awareness Program.  Pat Chierichella, the foundation’s Educational Coordinator, along with Mike Pepe & Charlie Comstock, both from the Educational Committee, presented live in front of the 320 students in The Lakeville School.  The Principal of the school informed us that “it was a great combination of critical content and engaging presentation”.  The new lesson was an adaptation of an old story handed down over the ages. Pat told the tale of an old, but wise Lion who moved into a new neighborhood.

The lion was very keen and devised a plan to lure the other animals in the neighborhood to his lair. The lion made it known to all that he had a luxurious home with all the newest technology: Ipads, big screen tvs, games systems, exotic cars, etc were displayed for all to see (as I said, it is an adaptation). All the trappings starting to arouse curiosity in the other animals, and one by one, they made their way to the Lion’s den. You see, the Lion was very hungry and needed more money to pay for the most expensive of dinners in the local restaurants.

First to arrive was the Zebra. He galloped up to the Lion’s door and announced his arrival. “Come right in”, said the Lion. “What an incredible home you have”, said the Zebra. “All the better to make you want to come in…and now I’m going to sell you to the zoo”. And with that, the Lion sent over his zoo keeper, who took the Zebra out the side door to the zoo.

Second to arrive was the Giraffe. She meandered over to the Lion’s door and announced her arrival. “Come right in”, said the Lion. “What amazing gadgets you have”, exclaimed the Giraffe. “All the better to make you want to come in…and now I’m going to sell you to the zoo”. In came the Zoo Keeper, who swept the Giraffe out the garage door to the zoo.

Next to arrive was the Tiger. He quietly stepped up to the Lion’s front door. “Come right in”, said the Lion. “What incredibly fast cars you have in the driveway”, said the Tiger. “All the better to make you want to come…and now I am going to sell you to the zoo”. Again, the Zoo Keeper moved in to capture the Tiger, and quietly stole away with the Tiger out the kitchen door.

Lastly, the Monkey made his way over to the Lion’s property. Being the wisest of his friends, he carefully examined the sprawling estate. Knowing never to travel alone, the Monkey made sure not to set foot on the Lion’s property. The Monkey was also wondering why he hadn’t seen his other friends in the last few days and became suspicious. Now it was the Lion who’s curiosity got the best of him. The Lion noticed the Monkey not coming closer and left his home to investigate. “Why don’t you come in”?, asked the Lion. The Monkey replied, “I noticed that there are many foot steps going into your home…tiger footsteps, Giraffe footsteps and zebra footsteps, but none coming back out. I think I will keep my distance and avoid your obvious trap”. The Lion became afraid that his devious plot had been exposed, so he roared and ran at the Monkey, who in turn, mirrored his movements and ran the other way before the Lion could reach him. The Monkey ran right to a trusted adult, the Sheriff, who then returned to the Lion’s den and arrested the Lion and freed his friends from the zoo.

The story provides many stranger safety awareness skills if your children examine the story closely. Many times, children are very trusting and that leads them to make poor decisions. Although the Lion used the trappings of wealth to lure his victims, a stranger may use other, less obvious tricks; a lost puppy, a new ipad, a ride in a new car, even a simple candy bar. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation stresses over and over, we can’t do much to stop a stranger from taking a child, but we can teach a child to stay away from the stranger in the first place.

Please repeat this story to your children, as it has been over the ages, to keep reminding your children that things are not always as they may seem. A stranger giving away free treats or asking them to join them in their home or in their car are always up to no good. Help them so they are not lured into the lion’s den.

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.

Perplexing

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator
The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Ehrenstein illusion

When I taught, students were required to prepare and present a research investigation that hopefully demonstrated their skill in using the scientific method. Very often my charges would offer their work based on optical illusions. The above diagram is one of many called Ehrenstein illusions. What do you see?

Perception is singular yet we hope universal. We live knowing we are connected with others; that these others experience the world in similar fashion. Back in 6th grade, I learned I was red/green colorblind. Now this does not mean I have no color receptors, but that mine function differently from most of you out there. I do have color confusion with browns and greens. There have been numerous times when my wife has urged me to change the color combos I dressed in that day. I wonder if my appreciation of artwork is based on some misperception of the work. An artist’s palette cannot be decoded by me.

A while ago, we visited friends in Florida during the first week of February. I rose early and went outside to retrieve the daily newspaper. I was dressed in shorts and a tee shirt. As I picked up the paper I saw a gentleman out for his morning walk. He was dressed in sweatpants, parka, winter cap and gloves. He looked at me and I looked at him as if we were both a little bit off.

Differing perspectives from the same set of data will produce head scratching conclusions. It can be perplexing, to say the least.
Just before the recent elections, my wife and I received in the mail a letter telling us of the recent relocation of a Level 3 sexual offender to a street near an elementary school in our home town. The man had served his time and, with our county closing trailers in which he and others had been housed, needed a new residence. This man had been convicted of forcible sexual assault on an EIGHT YEAR-OLD child. He was now living on a street bearing the name of that elementary school! The letter urged us not to vote for a particular candidate since he and his party leaders would continue to do this type of relocating. The powers that be have decided they see no problem with housing such an offender in an area where he will see, daily, children walking to and from school. In my mind’s eye, I previewed a true horror film in which, to paraphrase an old thriller movie, the voiceover intones, “He’s on your block!”

A November 12th, WPEC TV essay in Palm Beach, FL, Sexual Predators: Why the laws aren’t working, highlighted a glitch in the system that allowed released offenders to describe their residency as transient, meaning they more or less resided in a general area of the county. A TV reporter attempted to find some of these offenders at their so-called addresses and came up empty. Newsday, Sunday November 24, warns about 467 sex offenders that New York State cannot locate. Movies and TV shows will use the relocation and hopeful anonymity of a sex offender as a theme in its dramas. Advocacy for fair treatment of released offenders speaks of humane treatment for this group. But, they are not all Valjeans, nobly trying to live an honorable life, nor are we all Javerts intent on destroying whatever chance they have.

A 1990 study by HE Barbaree and WL Marshall published in Behavioral Science and Law found that the recidivism rate for child molesters with female victims ranged from 10% to 29% and for child molesters with male victims the range was 13% to 40%. Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested for a similar offense.

In 2005, The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence found that overall follow-up studies typically find recidivism for sexual offenders at 10%-15% after 5 years, 20% after 10 years and 30%-40% after 20 years. The article notes these numbers are conservative because not all offences are reported.

Conversely, a Wall Street Journal article from January 24, 2008, by Carl Bialik writes that recidivism is more an emotional response than a reality. Recidivism rates vary widely depending on which crimes are counted, the timeframe of the studies, and whether repeat offenses are defined by convictions, arrest or self-reporting.

Arthur Herman, in his book The Cave and The Light, writes of the philosopher Plato. “…there is always a higher standard, a model of excellence by which everything we do or say or encounter must be measured-and inevitably be found wanting. At one level we become …conscious of our own shortcomings and weaknesses. We move through life aware we could be, or should be, someone different: more honest, more courageous, more compassionate.”

Recidivism is therefore a troublesome issue. There are advocates for the released/paroled sex offenders. There are community activists, NIMBYs, rightfully frightened by the potential for harm to their children, putting a former predator so close to prey. It is easy to be philosophical about the question, to wish for more honesty, courage, and compassion. I do not question the visceral response of any community.

Not all offenders fall into the category of child abductor. Yet I cringed when I read an article that categorically noted how rare the murder of a child such as Carlie Brucia is. Doesn’t the very fact that it happened make it one too many? Dylan Thomas wrote, After the first death there is no other.

We all have different viewpoints on a multitude of issues. I believe we must universally agree to insure our children’s safety. We can keep a watchful eye on our kids. We can lobby for stronger pre-reentry psychological programs prior to relocation. We can argue for prudence, for compassion. We can press our case against the audacity of policies that put violent offenders near potential victims. And, then again, put forth the proposition that people are entitled to a second chance. It is all about perspective.

But we cannot ever blithely go on as if these offenses will never be repeated or that we will be there forever. Better to instill, to build in our children a sense of self-reliance and strength to deal with questionable situations they encounter.

Furthermore, Remember the most dangerous predator is the one unknown, the average looking one, the one unidentified, and now the one hiding from authorities.

It is in our hands to deal with this unsavory issue in as caring and delicate manner as possible.

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: Putting it all together

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

I am writing this blog on the last day of the school week of “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week” in New York State.  As I assess the internet results of our blogging campaign this week, I am delighted to find that, just in the last 5 days, our free Stranger Safety Awareness Program has spiked a 60% increase in downloads.  That means that more and more parents, teachers and schools are utilizing our program to bring vital stranger safety skills to more and more children! Each time the program is downloaded, we can safely assume that yet another classroom is engaging in a thought-provoking discussion about stranger safety. Our reach grows exponentially as more teachers and schools share the program within their district.

There is a long list of people who I would like to thank for their involvement in this incredible week. Firstly, I would like to thank NY State Assemblyman Al Graf and Governor Cuomo, who are responsible for making this week a reality – your dedication has made it possible for, literally, thousands of children in the state of New York to become more aware of what they need to know before a stranger approaches.  I would like to thank my supportive Board of Directors who stand behind all the hard work and planning that goes into our everyday mission to reduce child abductions.  Of course, our program would be nothing without our Educational Coordinator, Pat Chierichella, and his extremely talented educational committee, who volunteer their valuable time and expertise to craft educationally sound lesson plans out of what,once, only seemed to be my wild imagination.  Our faithful volunteer committees work hard to plan and execute our very successful events that keep our generous supporters interested in donating to fund our video productions. Finally, our amazing staff, headed by Maryann Barbis, keep working well past their regular work week in order to continually raise the bar on what this foundation continues to deliver to children, not only in this country, but to the other 90 countries across the globe that use the Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Program.

In a world where it is necessary for adults to teach and continually remind children about the dangers that strangers may pose, it is heartwarming to know that this foundation, founded out of the loss of one child, Carlie Brucia, stands as a united front against anyone seeking to harm another innocent child.  The more people who become involved with The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation; it’s strength grows exponentially.  As the old commercial says, “they tell one friend, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on….”. Share the Stranger Safety Awareness Program with as many friends as possible – we will keep developing the lessons to reinforce our mission to reduce child abductions.

Special thanks to David Reich-Hale and the team over at Patch.com for spreading the daily blogs this week across New York State.

carlie-brucia-rose-brucia-educational-foundation

In Loving Memory of Carlie Jane Brucia

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.

If you build it…

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

We are nearing the end of “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week” in New York State and I must let all of you out there, who have accessed our site to download our materials, know how gratified all of us at the Foundation are for your support. We can speak plainly or yell from mountaintops, but unless YOU are picking up our message, all our efforts will be in vain.

When you spend so much time in developing lessons for our Stranger Safety Awareness Program, you find yourself searching all media for potential teachable moments. The sorrowful realization is that when you find such a moment, it will be a report about some reprehensible action perpetrated on a child by an amoral individual or group.

The various media reported an incident in which a 13-year old runaway became property for a group selling sexual favors from her.

A child is approached by a stranger in a car as she is on her way to school on Long Island today.

In the movie Prisoners, the mother of an abducted child vehemently says to her husband, “You made me feel safe”. Left unsaid: Look what you let happen! Why was she berating him? Was she caught up in assigning blame him?

At The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, we realize there is no magic bullet to make every child or teen or adult safe from sexual predators. We do know that a consistent message from parents, schools and other social groups is necessary for a reduction in child abductions to become reality.

Practice the Stranger Safety Awareness skills presented in the simple lessons provided by The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation. Construct your family’s stranger safety awareness program with these materials/suggestions.

  • Ensure your children know who strangers are.
  • Practice the correct and safe way to deal with strangers at the door.
  • Select a secret word/password for identification of trusted adults or teenagers by your children.
  • Instill the proper way of dealing with being lost at the mall or in a big store.
  • Go over the proper response to an emergency.
  • Model the mirroring technique for maintaining a safe distance from a stranger.

We, here at the Foundation, believe that forewarned is forearmed. We also see our lessons as a potential gateway for increasing communication between parent and child. It matters little to ignore this life-altering, life-threatening issue of child abduction. You cannot whistle in the dark to alleviate your anxiety.  As the old song says, “Teach your children well”.

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.

It’s All About TRUST!

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

One key component of The Stranger Safety Awareness Program is centered around the word “Trust”.  When we dissect the word “Trust”, you can see that the word is held together by the letters “u” & “s”.  Our Educational Coordinator, Patrick Chierichella, likes to point out that when you examine the word “Trust”, you can see a bridge created by “us”.  Pat concludes that without “us”, meaning the two people involved, you and me, there can be no trust – it takes both of “us” to trust one another.  A bond needs to be formed.  Before you can trust someone, some type of relationship needs to be established.

In our very first lesson of The Stranger Safety Awareness Program, we discuss the need for a formal introduction.  In early childhood, these introductions are controlled by our parents.  Later, as we go to school, proper introductions take on a less formal nature since our teachers introduce us to new students. Trust becomes implied through the school atmosphere.  The same type of progress exists in our personal life, as we meet new people, ie. distant cousins, next-door neighbors, friends around the block, and friends in the neighborhood.

Take the time to review a few important items with your children:

Practice making a formal introduction with your child. Pretend that you do not know each other and state your name, and extend your hand to handshake.

After your introduction, you now introduce your child to a third person. Again, pretending is key here, since you are doing this in a safe, controlled environment.

Explain to your child that now that Mom & Dad have introduced you to that person, they may now start to trust that person.

Also explain to your child what SPECIFICALLY they may trust about that person. Remind them that though you trust that person, they are not to go with that person without your permission.

Finally, explain to your child that if they are not formally introduced to a person from someone who you have established trust – that person is a STRANGER.

A STRANGER is someone who they do not know, haven’t been formally introduced to and can NEVER be trusted!

This activity will open the door to further communication. Encourage your child to ask you more questions. Questions such as “why can’t I trust a stranger”? will give you the opportunity to explain that not all strangers are dangerous, but all strangers are not to be trusted if they ask your child to go someplace with them or help them in some way or approach their car, etc.  The more questions and imagination that your child brings into the discussion, the better you can prepare them for a potentially dangerous encounter with a stranger.  Remember, the purpose of The Stranger Safety Program is to teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches.  Since you are the very first person that your child has ever trusted, this activity is best taught to them by 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.

The Secret Word

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

“Innocence is always unsuspicious”Joseph Joubert

That is a quote that rings loudly in my head as I write today’s blog to kick off the first school day of “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week” in New York State.  It drives home two very profound thoughts that motivate all the volunteers at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation.  One, that children are probably only innocent for a very short time in today’s society.  It is difficult for parents to maintain their innocence with constant bombardment of advertising and a continual feed of “information” available through the media and the internet.  Two, due to their innocent nature, it is very easy for a child to fall victim to circumstance.  As somber as that sounds, we strive to maintain innocence in children for as long as possible – the world is tough enough without having to thrust them into adulthood prematurely. Enough philosophy – let me get to the point.

Since children may be tricked into a dangerous situation if their parents aren’t around, here’s what we can teach them without having to scare them.  Creating a secret word with your child can be the key to making sure they may not be tricked into going with someone they should not.  This will work outside the realm of stranger safety for it is very simple.  If the child is not told the secret word, they do not go with that person.

Parents: Sit down with your child and create your very own secret word.  It is a word that only you and your child will know. It is very important that you stress that they do not tell ANYONE this word.  It will only be told to them, never the other way around.  Once you have created it, teach your child that they will only hear this word if you cannot come to pick them up somewhere.  You will be the only person in the world that can share this word and you will only do it in an emergency.  Practice with them to show different circumstances where the word would be used.  Now, no one will be able to tell your children that you were in an accident and that they sent that person to pick them up; they won’t fall for the stranger offering them a ride to school; they even won’t fall for a familiar person trying to trick them.

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.

All Week Long

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

With the Governor officially signing in the third week of October each year as “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week” in New York State, please be on the lookout for our posts on each day of this special week.  Its purpose is to bridge the gap between a casual discussion about “stranger danger” and a true educational curriculum to enhance your child’s skills when it comes to dealing with strangers.

My first thoughts on the daily blog were to highlight our top 7 stranger safety awareness tips to bring them to the forefront of conversation, while also reminding teachers in NY State that our free program is available to add to their daily lessons.  Unfortunately, today’s news on Long Island started with an eery reminder of why we do what we do.  According to News 12:

MERRICK – The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has alerted parents that a man tried to lure a student into his car.

The district says a man approached a Calhoun High School student on Merrick Avenue yesterday and offered a ride to the student. He continued to approach the student in his car, saying “hello” before speeding off.

The suspect is described as a man in his mid-40s with receding brownish red hair. He was wearing sunglasses, a red shirt and driving a white sedan.

I never like to use scare tactics to reinforce why it is so important for children to be properly prepared to deal with a stranger, but it is sometimes necessary to bring reality into the discussion.  This may be an opportune time for parents & teachers to speak with middle and high school children about the story of my cousin, Carlie Brucia.  She was 11 years old and on her way home from a friend’s house on Super Bowl Sunday in 2004.  As she walked home, she took a short cut off the main road, behind a car wash.  It was there that she encountered a stranger who would abduct her.  This story is not meant to scare, but meant to teach a few important concepts; the very concepts that this foundation is founded upon:

Always walk with a friend – use what we call “The Buddy System”.

Always stay visible when heading anywhere – no short cuts.

Walk with confidence – keep your head up and make eye contact with other people.

Learn how to mirror a stranger’s movements – make the identical movements they make, only in reverse. (they step toward you, you step away).

If you don’t have a driver’s license, does it make sense for someone that does to ask you for directions? Stay away from cars that approach children.

Keep in mind, these concepts may seem like common sense to an adult, but adults cannot always be with children at all times.  As children grow, they like to spread their wings and flex their independence.  It becomes important for us, as adults, to teach the proper foundation for which our children will express their independence when the time comes.  I know I look back and thank my parents, teachers and friends for helping me become the man I am today.  Let’s do the same for our next generation.

Please check back with us each day as we post a stranger safety awareness tip for “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week”.

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.

Location! Location! Location!

By Patrick M. Chierichella

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation 

            Located along the banks of the Ohio River, Cincinnati boasts a metropolitan area population over 2.1 million people. [Read more…]

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