We should never have heard of the Morcombe family. They should have been some pleasantly anonymous Sunshine Coast couple, running their business, stressing about their son’s choice of girlfriends and planning for their retirement.
But everyone in Australia does know Bruce and Denise Morcombe, and when their beautiful boy Daniel is buried today – 9 years after his abduction – Australia will be crying with them.
Because when Daniel was taken, a little part of all of us… crumpled. That crumbled part was our belief that of course a 13-year-old boy could catch a bus to the shops alone and come home – safely.
These two remarkable people have taken their grief and turned it into something positive, taking to the road for weeks at a time, visiting schools and talking about personal safety.
You’d think if anyone was going to say, ‘Never let your kids out of your sight,’ it’d be the Morcombes but no. Their message is one of community and empowerment. Kids should be able to walk to school, catch buses and go shopping but they need to be taught how to avoid finding themselves in situations that they can’t control.
Thanks to Bruce and Denise and the foundation they have set up in Daniel’s honour, Queensland schools implemented a personal safety program in 2012 – and it’s not about scaring kids and parents witless, it’s about making kids act safe and smart.
Last year, Mamamia contacted the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and we were humbled when Bruce himself called us back. We discovered that in addition to being a still grieving dad, he’s a man on a mission.
Bruce sent us a copy of the notes he uses when he and Denise visit schools and from those, and using the information available at the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, www.childsafety.org.au and www.beingsafetysmart.com.au we’ve put together a summary of the Morcombes’ message to our kids:
Our son Daniel did not get a second chance. His legacy is that you can learn from this tragic event and make sure it does not happen again.
1. When you can, stay with a friend. Even if you have a fight with your mate, don’t go off alone.
2. Be observant. Notice who’s around you and what they’re doing.
3. Have a family password. Something like your favourite food – lasagne, for example. If a person says they are meant to pick you up, test them on the password.
4. With your parents, make a list of 5 adults you trust. If you ever feel uneasy about anybody or anything, tell one of these people and know you won’t get into trouble. If you feel you’re not being listened to, try someone else.
Daniel should be alive today.
He should be finishing up a day of uni or TAFE or work and heading out to party with his mates tonight.
But he isn’t.
Instead his beloved friends and family will be gathering to remember and to celebrate his short life.
And for the rest of us, the date of his funeral seems a fitting time to honour his memory and make good on his legacy.
Share this post with a parent today and together let’s all teach our kids to be smart and savvy about their own safety and keep our communities secure and supportive.