State of Mind

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

It’s easier to let down your guard when the world is going at a merry pace, as the race towards the holidays is in full swing. An anonymous quote about safety goes like this: Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

During the past weeks on Long Island, there have been three particularly unnerving situations involving children with strangers. First came the classic attempt at an abduction by a man in a white van offering a child money if she would get into his car. Luckily, the child immediately ran away from the van and sought safety with known adults. Next a truly unsettling occurrence at a local movie theater played out. A mother had taken her daughter to a holiday movie. They were looking forward to some time to spend together. As happens so often, the child turns to her mother and says she has to go to the bathroom. As the girl descends the stairs and turns to exit the theater, the mother notices a man who was sitting alone turn towards the sound of her daughter’s footsteps, get up and proceed to exit towards the lobby. Something sets off the mother’s sense of unease; she leaves her seat and goes to find her daughter. She catches up with the man at the door and watches as he opens the door, looks out into the common area of the theater, turns and nods at someone in the hall. The mother moves past the man, sees another man in the hall near the restrooms. She enters the rest room to find her child visibly uneasy due to the situation. The mom takes her daughter with her to front desk of the theater and informs the management of her concerns. The man is asked to leave the theater and DOES. The mother’s uneasiness may have prevented something serious from occurring. The third of these distressing situations took place in a large shopping mall, in the girls’ department of a clothing store. Another mom was shopping with her daughter. She saw a man there who didn’t seem to be shopping but just hanging around. She made eye contact with him, asked what he was doing. He said he was waiting for his brother. He left. Later she ran across him in another store’s girls’ department, this time with a woman. With her daughter in earshot of the pair, the mom heard them examining the clothes and saying loudly how lovely so and so looked in them. Enough of this, the mother thought. Feeling uneasy, she took her daughter and left.

Is this due to the moms’ or the young girl’s Spidey Sense or Dread or Paranoia? Does it matter? Thankfully there were no physical confrontations. The moms and the girl did what they had to. The girl’s response is spot on. A child alone needs to be taught and have reinforced the simple mantra, If I don’t know I don’t go.   A child alone needs to quickly recognize the situation that presents itself and make the one and only response to the requests and lures of a stranger that is appropriate: RUN. Author Eleanor Everet wrote, Safety is not a gadget but a state of mind. The child in the theater and the mall was accompanied by a parent. At a certain age, most parents allow a child to use the restroom on their own. How disturbing must it have been to see and conclude that a grown man may be up to no good? Her instinct was to protect her child and she did. I know that taking two grandsons under the age of 6 at the time to the movies meant a group restroom visit always. The shopping expedition to the mall was well supervised by the mom. If your child is given permission to go to the mall, do they always leave home in a group, stay together in the mall, come home together? I hope so. Safety in numbers, you know. The Buddy System does work.

As parents and guardians, we cannot ever allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security about where we are, where our children are. Our eyes, our children’s eyes must be open and our defenses on alert. Safety cannot be conveniently recalled in moments of stress and/or danger. It should be instinctual. It is in our best interests to make it so.

The very best wishes for a very happy, healthy & safe Holiday Season from everyone at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation to you & your family!

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.

See you in the funny pages!

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

 I am of an age that my first reading lessons involved the funnies or comics in various New York City daily newspapers. My mother would sit me at the kitchen table and go panel by panel through various strips pointing to and sounding out the words scripted in the balloons floating above the characters heads. Sunday’s edition was especially awaited because it was printed larger and was in glorious color. To this day I still read the funnies. With time and, ahem, maturity, there are fewer that I follow. These still bring chuckles, provide agonizing groans and surprise with poignancy.

I have been asked where I get the ideas for my essays. They come from so many different sources. A well- turned phrase in a novel, an editorial, a conversation, a reflection, a photo, a comic strip. On Thursday, May 30th, I was taken by the Wizard of Id strip. It was a three panel strip that had only one drawn character, the Wizard. If you didn’t see it, I’ll describe it for you: The Wizard is walking along a street. He is passing a sewer or storm drain. A balloon is floating above the sewer with its attached string leading down to the sewer grate. The Wizard produces his magic wand, points, touches the balloon. Zap! The balloon is destroyed. In the last panel he says, Not in my neighborhood, Chuckles!

This set off various threads of thought in my mind. My mind filled with many recollections: to Stephen King’s It; to the incredibly nasty, evil Pennywise feeding on the fears of children; to King linking the worst desires of this frightening villain to where he lives in the sewers; to Neighborhood Watch signs I see posted throughout American locales; to the See something. Say something! Campaign publicized on TV.

We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause American philosopher William James said. Count the Wizard as a good, good man. Sets a great example, he does. Mason and Marc Mastroianni, the team responsible for the current run of the comic strip, deserve our thanks for making such a brilliantly succinct point about what evil still lurks out there in the world. Additionally, you can check out the recent PBS Frontline documentary from May 28, 2019, Sex Trafficking in America. It is not an easy watch.

In a beautifully tender essay in the New York Times, Sunday June 2, 2019 Amber Scorah wrote about loss. The essay concerned her coming to grips with the unexpected death of her 4 year old son at a day care center. She wrote the child was a means of capturing immortality …I would die first and that made him immortal for me. Further, I will never know who my child would have been, but I know his love.

All this leads me again to the reason our foundation exists, the loss of a child through violence. We are diminished as John Donne would say. That bell is tolling to ask us to remember and to discover a connection between ourselves and those who surround us with their love in this time of loss.

As John Lennon wrote, There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. No one you can save that can’t be saved. It’s easy. Would that it would be easy! Here’s to the ongoing task of keeping our children safe in this day and age. It can be done. It isn’t a game. Save one child then another. Surely worth doing no matter the effort! See you around the neighborhood!

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.

Awareness 2016

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Well, here we are at the beginning of New York State Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week.  This week is dedicated to teaching stranger safety awareness to all elementary-aged children.

The theme of awareness is promoted in its most basic form in the Stranger Safety Awareness Program.  Each day this week, we will take the opportunity to re-launch a popular lesson from our archives to help parents and teachers reinforce important techniques as we approach Halloween.

We’ll start by defining the word “stranger”. Please share with all parents, teachers and children.

(Remember, we still don’t have professional actors so my elementary school acting career is pretty transparent – enjoy)

 

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.

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.

 

Stranger Safety Awareness Week is Coming…

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

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

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

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

 

 

Back to School Stranger Safety

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

We recently traveled down to Sarasota, Florida to teach our latest lesson on Stranger Safety Awareness to the residents of the city where Carlie Brucia was abducted back in 2004.  The back to school event, sponsored by AutoNation, was to help bring more awareness to students as they ended the summer and prepared to get back into the school year.  Although Carlie’s abduction was extremely personal to me and many of her hometown residents, the occurrence of child abductions has started to have happier endings since 2004.  When the Department of Justice examined the latest 8,000 failed child abductions, they discovered that 83% of the time the child escaped because the child knew what to do to escape.

Firstly, I don’t know about you, but the first thing that stands out about that statistic is that there have been 8,000 attempted abductions of late.  This number scares the heck out of me since I am in the business of reducing child abductions.  I hear time and again on news interviews, other “experts” touting that child abductions by strangers are very rare and you have a very small chance of that ever happening to your child.  Well, I have news for these “experts”:  It did happen to my family. The effect was DEVASTATING.  It was very real to us and the entire community where it occurred and you should make it a priority to at least introduce your child to the concepts of stranger safety awareness.  Over 21,000 children under the age of 18 are abducted annually by a complete stranger according to the U.S. Department of Justice.  This number is extremely serious and extremely real.  You can do something to help your children – go to http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads and start watching the free videos with your children and follow the suggestions presented by certified teachers who volunteer their expertise on behalf of your child’s safety.

Secondly, 83% of the last 8,000 attempted abductions have had a positive outcome because the child knew what to do!  I love it! It shows we are making progress. The entire reason this foundation exists is to teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches.  Keeping children thinking about the fact that a stranger belongs at arm’s length and not to be treated as a long-lost friend will only benefit them as they gain independence as they age.

Here are a few tips as your child returns to school:

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

2) Advise your child never to go anywhere with a STRANGER.

3) Remind your child that STRANGERS may lie to get your child to trust or like them.

4) Teach your child to use the BUDDY SYSTEM and never go anywhere alone.

5) Establish a SECRET WORD with your child – tell them that anyone who claims to be sent by you to pick them up MUST state the word in order for them to go anywhere with that person.

Many thanks to Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, for taking the time to bring The Stranger Safety Awareness Program to the community of Sarasota, Florida.  We were honored to be invited! Please feel free to share our free program at http://www.rosebrucia.org on our free curriculum page with your local PTA, elementary school or Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts program – we have no restrictions on copying and sharing.

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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