We Have Your Back!

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

There was a time when a song by the Rolling Stones, Start me up!, could encapsulate the annual anticipation I felt the night before school was to open for the new year. Today I wonder how parents and guardians are dealing with the so-called new normal that shadows people everywhere. Now, it seems to me a more appropriate anthem might be Puccini’s Nessum dorma, translated as No one is sleeping.

In the August 31, 2020 Zits comic strip a teacher addresses his class and says he is giving them a quiz to see how much they remember of last year’s work. That’s akin to the first ELA essay of the year, What I did on my summer vacation.

When Matt and I would make our presentations in local schools, we were often greeted by shouts of recognition from the children: Hey, I remember you! Call on me this time. Some children even called us by name. Some even inform us that we would not be able to trick them this year. Oh, the certitude of the young!

When I did some research on memory, I found some interesting points. For example, what we know controls how we store information, how we organize that information in our brains and how we get it out of storage. Also, there is a far greater retention of information if there is a familiarity with the material and that material has meaningfulness to us. (Can’t you just hear some high schooler asking the teacher about applications of the quadratic equation in everyday life?)

The isolation imposed by the potential for infection severely impacted all students’ performances. An unexpected teaching drought hit the planet and learning in the modern world suffered its worst year ever. But school isn’t just ABC’s. I recently spoke to a social worker who is the mother of a nine year old boy. She said that her son’s circle of friends has shrunken to the point that she worries about his coping mechanisms. She spoke of how playtime involves herself, her husband and son. “He needs friends of his age,” she said.

An opinion piece in Newsday, Sunday August 30, 2020 addresses the plight of special needs people who have been under continuous quarantine since the beginning of the pandemic.

Print and other media report of the increase on campuses throughout the country of new positive Covid-19 test results in collegians.

Newsday had published on August 23rd this year, Safety on the Sands. The article reported on the efforts by workers at Jones Beach to ensure social distancing. In an accompanying photo, a worker certainly appears to be using the same techniques Matt and I do to describe personal space: arms spread out in airplane mode.

How does this fit in with Rose Brucia and stranger safety? Gradually we will become more open, inching towards more socialization. I worry that after months of 24/7 contact with and oversight by parents and guardians, children might be a little too willing to get close to people, any person they initially deem as safe. I worry that our safety lessons can become pushed off the already monstrously crowded plate that families find on the tables in their homes. Asking you to do additional work is too much. Access our web site, www.rosebrucia.org and go to our list of prerecorded lessons. Use them if and when you can. We’ve got your back. If you use the lessons, encourage your child to ask questions. Rhymes or songs work very well with the primary grade students. You could try this Safety Skills Song to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:  

Someone Calls My Name

Someone calls my name

A person I don’t know

Unless they say the secret word

With them I’ll never go!

A stranger walks towards me

And takes a step or two

No nearer can the stranger get

I mirror what they do!

Additionally, you can have your children teach you the lessons they have learned. Anything helps.

We have your back. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Endure. Stay safe. Be safe!

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

The Off Chance

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

In days past, as I was sitting in the darkened movie theater, I watched and listened as the screen filled with an avalanche of popped corn with its signature popping sound. Then the sound of tinkling ice came as the cubes filled a glass. Soda loudly effervesced as it poured over the ice. Images not so subtly urging me to visit the refreshment stand are as old as movies themselves. These messages are easily dismissed as being the ever present nuisance I must sit through before the film begins.

It was what followed the advertisements that got me thinking: A picture of the theater with its exits along with this voiceover, In the unlikely event of an emergency…Aren’t all emergencies unlikely events?

Unlikely event? Given our population, certainly! Stephen King wrote, There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst. Ann Landers wrote, It is not what you do for your children but what you taught them to do for themselves. A former teaching peer often spoke of prior planning in formulating strong lessons. Planning does not guarantee success. Planning does develop a sense of confidence.

Before a hurricane season several years, my wife and I attended an emergency preparedness meeting at our local high school. We listened to town officials talk about power outages and local flooding potential. As we left the meeting, we were given a bright red backpack, our go bag courtesy of the American Red Cross. It included the Town’s Resident Guide to Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness, lists of essentials for families, supply suggestions for our car, for our formulation of an evacuation plan, for anything and everything aligned with our safety.

According to the FBI, in 2016 there were 465,676 entries concerning missing children in the Bureau’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC); in 2017, there were 464,324 entries. Doing the math, on average, there are about 1,270 or more entries per day concerning missing children in our country. In 2017, our population was 325.7 million people. I can do the math. The total entries for missing children reflect .1% of our population in these years. Doing research on the issue of child abductions, I come across statements on the net from people out there who claim groups such as ours, along with the media, overplay the frequency of child abductions, of school shootings, emphasizing fear over reality. If you are only into numbers, then, yes, that number speaks to your argument. However, the impact upon the missing child, the child’s immediate family, the child’s extended family, the friends, classmates, and the community becomes multiplied into a significant value that cannot be denied. The event, singular though it may be, has a rippling effect that can rock many groups.

At the Foundation, we urge informing and preparing your child for whatever emergency life may throw their way. They need their own go bag. We urge you to review in as an engaging manner as possible the following points:

Practice performing a formal introduction with your child. Give your child a strong idea of who a stranger is. Advise your child never to go anywhere with a stranger. Let your child know a stranger may be lying to them. Tell your child never to take a gift from a stranger. Teach your child to use the Buddy System and always go somewhere with a friend. Create a Secret Word with your child that must be used to identify someone who is sent by you with any message or suggestion to go with them. Insure your child can use 9-1-1 properly and easily. Play observation games to heighten your child’s awareness skills.

Our lives are more complicated today than ever before. At the Foundation, we hope our suggestions do not insult nor overwhelm you.

There is an old saying, Fool me once, shame on me. To be fooled by a dangerous stranger, by a predator just once, is truly more than enough.

Be safe.

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

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