We should never have heard of Bruce Morcombe.
He should be running his business on the Sunshine Coast, making ‘Dad jokes’ and helping his sons choose cars.
But we know Bruce, and his wife Denise because their beautiful boy Daniel was abducted and murdered in 2003.
We don’t need to read more about the horrible day, or the eight years of not knowing what happened; or the fresh horror of knowing.
But now that a man has been charged and a trial is imminent, the media will again drip with fear and anger.
But astonishingly, it won’t come from Daniel’s parents.
They’ve taken their grief and turned it 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 them, 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 they can’t control.
Thanks to Bruce and Denise and the foundation they set up in Daniel’s honour, Queensland schools will implement a personal safety program in 2012 – and it won’t be about scaring kids and parents witless.
Earlier this week, I contacted the foundation looking for information for this post and was humbled when Bruce called me. Not only is he a grieving dad, he’s a man on a mission, and he sent me a copy of the notes he uses when he and Denise visit schools. From those, and using the information available at the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, www.childsafety.org.au and www.beingsafetysmart.com.au I’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. Daniel has given you that second chance.
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.
5. Don’t share information about yourself, like your hobbies or the name of your school with people you don’t know, online or in real life.
6. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust the butterflies in your stomach – they could be a sign something’s not right.
7. It’s okay to run and scream if you feel threatened. Safety is more important than good manners.
Today is Day For Daniel, a national day of action promoting child safety. All over Australia kids are wearing red to school (Daniel was last seen wearing a red t-shirt) and everyone is being encouraged to talk about child safety. Bruce and Denise are more than figureheads – this has become their life’s work. Thousands of activities are planned, from walks to talks to picnics and bike rides, all designed to educate and empower kids. If you’d like to find out more, or make a donation click here.