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".