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…]

Invest in Others awards four advisers grants to bolster their causes

 

Charities focus on child protection, nutrition, education and genetic disorder NF

The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation has recognized the efforts of four financial advisers, awarding them each with $5,000 to go toward their charitable endeavors.

Invest in Others, which initially was established by top brass at LPL Financial LLC, recognizes the philanthropic work financial advisers perform for their communities.

The group also partners with InvestmentNews for its annual Community Leadership Awards, which honors advisers who are making a difference in their communities.

Last September, Invest in Others kicked off its Catalyst Grant Program, which encourages advisers to apply for the opportunity to win up to $5,000 for a charity in which they actively participate. Winners were chosen based on how they would use the funds to advance their charity’s goals and outreach.

The following advisers and their charities have been chosen for the award this year:

Matthew J. Barbis, an adviser with Creative Wealth Management LLC in Islandia, N.Y., and founder of The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation.

The group aims to reduce the number of child kidnappings by educating children on the dangers of abduction and basic techniques to defend themselves.

Mr. Barbis applied to the Catalyst Grant Program for funding to cover a national safety educational DVD launch, commemorating Aug. 22 as the National Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Day.

Carl Bailey, president of Bailey & Beatty Financial Services LLC in Danbury, Conn., and president of the Danbury Grassroots Tennis & Enrichment Program.

This program partners with the Danbury School System and others in the community to bring tennis, nutritional education and tutoring services to low-income children in the area.

When applying for the Catalyst Grant Program, Mr. Bailey asked for funds to launch a matching-gift program of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program vouchers — food stamps — at the local farmers’ market to encourage summer participants to eat healthily.

“Our program has three legs: education, exercise and nutrition, and tennis,” said Mr. Bailey. He kicked off a program to match participating families’ food stamps to help them purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at the local farmers’ market. The $5,000 from the Catalyst Grant Program will help subsidize the effort.

“Once kids are obese at 9 or 10 years old, it’s a lifelong battle: You’re struggling forever. This is a critical component of our program,” he added.

Alan Yonack, an adviser with Morgan Stanley and a member of the board at Vogel Alcove in Dallas.

This charity provides early-childhood education to local homeless children, as well as free child care and case management services for homeless families.

Mr. Yonack plans to use the grant money toward a new family enrichment program called Family Matters, which will provide weekend entertainment for homeless families.

Diane Bark, owner of DNB Financial Services Inc. of Baltimore and president of the board of directors at Neurofibromatosis Mid-Atlantic.

This charitable group provides information and support to individuals with neurofibromatosis and their families. Known as NF, the condition is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on the nerves. There is no cure for NF.

Ms. Bark applied to the Catalyst Grant Program to seek funding to kick off a social-media outreach program that will enable one of her volunteers to speak with others who suffer from NF.

Darla Mercado covers life insurance, annuities and retirement products for InvestmentNews, and she’s looking for advisers’ informed opinions, plus chatter on products and other industry developments.
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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