“We can't stop a pedophile from approaching a child, but we can teach a child to avoid a pedophile.”
That's the premise behind the stranger safety awareness programs provided to elementary schools by the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, founded by Matthew J. Barbis, an adviser at Creative Wealth Management LLC in Islandia, N.Y.
After Rose — Mr. Barbis' 11 year-old cousin — was kidnapped and murdered in 2004, he was moved to do whatever he could to protect other children. Having taught martial arts to kids, he was a natural to develop an outreach program for children.
The free program has four components: live puppet shows dealing with stranger safety, age-specific online videos, parent education and public service announcements — one of which stars Donald Trump.
What began in 2005 as a puppet show at a local hospital has grown into a program that has reached 50,000 children in New York state through live performances and 25,000 children across the U.S. through video downloads. The videos also have been downloaded in 20 other countries.
Mr. Barbis is not satisfied, though.
“We're only halfway done. We need to have this program in every elementary school in the country.”