Burb's Eye View: A safety brush-up for the cellphone generation

With the last bag of laundry successfully removed from my parents' car, we took one more trip up the steps to my new dorm.

My father, mother and I silently looked around the room. It was getting late in the afternoon. I suggested they could stay a little longer and help me unpack.

Graciously, they said, "no," and years later they told me Mom had been about to lose it. So they drove the hour back to Buffalo and left me in this strange city with this strange life, hoping they taught me everything I needed to know.

I'm told every parent feels that momentary doubt, a flash where he or she begins to wonder if they covered everything important in 18 years — and if they didn't, how will that child learn?

It happened to Eric Rosoff, a 31-year veteran of the Burbank Police Department.

Before his daughter left home for Loyola Marymount University, he went over some basic safety rules — never walk around on a campus looking at your cellphone instead of your surroundings, always know where the exits are in case of an emergency.…

"The farther her eyes would roll back, the more I knew I'm getting my Dad point across," Rosoff said.

Soon, he started receiving phone calls — parents of his daughter's friends asking what basic safety advice their kids should know before heading off to college or out into the working world. That advice is now a program that teaches parents and students the basic safety skills every young adult should have before leaving the nest.

Rosoff and Sally Chew, a former Burbank PTA president, will host the one-hour program at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Westminster Presbyterian Church fellowship hall, 542 N. Buena Vista St.

"This is something tangible parents can do to provide safety to kids," Rosoff said. "I don't want to paralyze kids — I want to empower kids, and empower parents."

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2011 (the most recent data available) burglaries are the most common form of campus crime (2,006 reported occurrences) followed by motor-vehicle theft (847), aggravated assault (275) and forcible sex offenses (266).

There are simple things Rosoff teaches — keeping serial numbers to electronics in one place, understanding one's surroundings, keeping a "campus safety" bookmark of all websites for the campus and local media — that he says ultimately make people less likely to be victims of crimes.

That's an element slowly lost to a generation where attention is always diverted to the phone in one's pocket. What Rosoff calls the "bubble kid" generation used to being driven to play dates that has lost some of the basic safety understanding that used to be a part of growing up.

This isn't a curmudgeonly rant on how much better things used to be. Rosoff presents a stark story of today's campus culture, where the resources that once went to awareness campaigns and basic health and safety courses are absorbed by other positions or wiped completely.

"We just assume our kids are safe, and for the most part they are, but parents can fill that void of staff," Chew said.

This month's program is intended for both students and parents — Rosoff hopes the conversation will give both audiences a better idea of what to expect without scaring anyone or creating too many helicopter parents. Or in his case, police helicopter parents.


BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he's not learning safety tips, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter at @818NewGuy.

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