If I asked my peers to repeat Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday’s signature phrase, they would say, "Just the facts, ma’am". (In truth, he never said that. He did say, "All we want are the facts, ma’am"). Bill Murray’s character in Stripes, John Winger, replies to a question from a superior officer with "That’s dah fact, Jack"! Scientists at Chicago’s Field Museum define a fact as an indisputable observation of a natural or social phenomenon, one that can readily be seen and shown to others.
Statistical information concerning abductions can lead us to the conclusion that the world’s evil doers have not gone into hibernation due to Covid-19 but remain an active menace in the world.
Worldwide, over 8,000,000 people go missing each year. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (Namus) reports over 600,000 go missing in the United States every year. Furthermore, it notes that over 70% of those cases involve children, those 17 and younger. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), 421,394 children were reported missing in 2019. Digging deeper into the numbers, NCMEC concluded there were 4,600 abductions by strangers. This group noted that one child in the US goes missing every 90 seconds, one in every 10,000 missing children is not found alive. The organization, Kids Live Safe reports that as a percentage of population Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Vermont top the national list. Based on sheer numbers alone, the State of California heads the list. Covid-19 has produced an increase in reports of predators luring children into producing sexually explicit materials via online enticements, increasing from 6,683 reports in 2019 to 13,268 reports in 2020. On a positive note, the recovery rate of abducted children has increased from 62% to 97% since 1997.
The numbers can sound like the wah, wah noises made by the teacher in the Peanuts’ movies. (How ironic the word number begins with NUMB!) Statistics need perspective. A favorite poem of mine concerns an individual attending a lecture by a learned astronomer. As the presentation goes on and on, the listener is overwhelmed by both the magnitude and dryness of information presented and seeks relief by leaving the lecture hall to go outside and soak in the wonder of the night sky.
So then, what do we do with all this amassed information? We USE them as an impetus to circle back (Sorry!) to what we have stressed these past years. The time-tested proverb, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, surely applies today.
· Ask your child what they think is a dangerous situation. Let them know what you think is a dangerous situation.
· Discuss safety procedures as a family.
· Define the word stranger and discuss examples with your children.
· Explain to your children what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior by any adult or teenager.
· Set limits.
· Lay down rules.
· Practice memory skills with your children. Begin with the basics name, address, contact phone number.
· Move on to developing/reenforcing their sense of awareness of time and place.
· Work on an exit strategy to use if, God forbid, the child should feel threatened, uneasy due to where they are or who they are with and come to the realization he/she is in a dangerous situation.
· Be engaging.
Covid-19 has prevented us from school presentations but we are still present online.
From all of us at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, Stay Safe!
About The Rose BruciaEducational 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. byeducating 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.