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American Morning

How Safe Are Your Kids?; "Sopranos" Returns With a Bang

Aired March 13, 2006 - 09:35   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: So how safe are your kids? Think a cell phone with GPS and some text messaging enough to keep tabs on them? Well, think again. Technology may not be the answer alone. It is probably more important to give your kids some practical lessons on survival. We'll have more on that in just a moment.
But first let's listen to AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian.



DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fourteen-year-old Victoria Marcielino's GPS-equipped cell phone sticks closer than a friend. Always on, always charged, always tracking.

MARCIELINO: That's where I was yesterday. It makes me feel like, you know -- that wherever I go I know that if I get in trouble, my parents can find me right away.

DAVID MARCIELINO, FATHER: Simply hit the GPS, or refresh.

LOTHIAN: By just logging on to the Internet, Victoria's father, a Boston area lawyer, can track her phone and pinpoint her exact location.

D. MARCIELINO: I feel as though I have to avail myself of every opportunity that exists to provide a machine of security, and with respect to my precious daughter.

LOTHIAN: In Atlanta, Kristina and Rodney Walden's two boys don't carry GPS phones; they wear watch-like devices that talk to handheld unit.

KRISTINA WALDEN, MOTHER: Scan it around and then it will tell me in what direction my child is.

LOTHIAN: The Ion Kid's system beeps if it is tampered with, or if the child goes out of range. An alarm can also be triggered.

RODNEY WALDEN, FATHER: I certainly feel more secure in that I know where they should be and where they are supposed to be.

LOTHIAN: Especially important because their five-year-old son is autistic.

K. WALDEN: He is what we call a runner, and when given the opportunity he will take off.

LOTHIAN: With high profile cases of children getting lost in the woods, wandering off or being abducted, personal safety expert Harold Coyne says more and more parents are buying into technology to add another layer of protection.

HAROLD COYNE, PERSONAL SAFETY EXPERT: People automatically more worried about that. I shouldn't say more worried, but they have more avenues now to maybe focus on it and be a little bit more preventive about it.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Technology's helping some parents have peace of mind. But experts warn, it is not a substitute for keeping track of your kids the low-tech way, with your eyes and ears.

(voice-over): In fact, the makers of the watch-like device say it is an aid, not a substitute.

BOB FRANK, ION KIDS CO.: There's nothing that beats good parent vigilance of their children.

LOTHIAN: While some children may feel the parents could use this technology to spy on them, it's a risk 14-year-old Victoria is willing to take, if it could one day save her life.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


M. O'BRIEN: You know, my feel something as long as I'm paying for the gadget, I should be allowed to spy on the gadget attached to the kid. What do you think family safety expert Bob Stuber? I think that probably that's a reasonable request, don't you?

BOB STUBER, FAMILY SAFETY EXPERT: Yes, I do. I think it's -- there's nothing wrong with spying on your kids. Parents need do everything they can do these days to keep them safe.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, we're not talking about having to go to a federal court and get a warrant here. This is not a democracy in my house in this case.


M. O'BRIEN: But the big caveat here is, it is typically American to assume you buy the gadget and your problems are solved. Not so, right?

STUBER: No, not so at all. High tech is not the place to turn when it comes to personal safety. Not yet it isn't. It hasn't got there yet, especially when it comes to kids.

I was listening to the piece about the cell phone. You know where the cell phone is at; you don't know where your daughter is at or your son is at. The cell phone could be anywhere. And you have to remember, these type of criminal, let's talk abductors for a second, child predators, they're not stupid. They know about high tech. They are very smart. You know, you're not going to put something like that over on them. The first thing they're going to do is get rid of the tracking device, put it on a dog collar and you're out chasing a stray dog while he's going the other way.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting. That's a good point. It's a false sense of security.

STUBER: All right, so what we need do without petrifying our children is teach them some practical things on what to be on the lookout for. You're by a car there. If you could quickly give us you know -- pretend I'm the kid. Tell me what to do for some reason I end up in a car I don't want to be in.

STUBER: Absolutely. And kids aren't petrified of this stuff; parents are. First thing you show a kid they can do if they're in a car they shouldn't be in, if they're in the front seat of that car. They can pull a handful of wires out from under the dashboard. It stops the car. Stop the car and you stop the crime. If the car pulls up behind another car at a stop sign, you can hit the gas pedal. Bump the car in front. Nobody is going to get hurt. But again, it brings people in. It can stop the crime. A kid can take a button off their clothes, stick it in the ignition cylinder. Now the key won't go back in. You stop, you've disabled the car. A little kid can disable the car. If they're in the front seat, show them to jump into the back seat in a situation like this. If they get in the back seat, the predator loses all the control and custody. He has to stop the car to regain it. If it's a four-door car, they have a chance to get out.

And then the trunk. That's a biggie, because it's not an uncommon place to be transported, but if you were in the trunk of a car, you can kick and scream, nobody is going to hear you, but all the cars are the same way. You take off this little panel, here's the break and taillight wires. You yank them, they quit working. You have a 50 percent chance the police will pull the car over because it has no brake or taillight wires. Common sense.

M. O'BRIEN: Now you're -- it's common sense, but you're asking a kid who is in a potentially horrific situation to think in ways we might not be able to think so clearly. Is this really practical kind of stuff for kids?

STUBER: Absolutely. In fact, every one of the techniques I just went over has been used in these situations, in real life, by kids to save their lives because somebody taught it to them. You see, kids can do this if they're told by their parent these have permission to do it. They won't think of it on their own, but if you give them the information beforehand it's something that they will turn to, and that's what awareness really is. You know, we can rely on GPS and everything else and hope it works, or give kids the kind of info they need. Because in an abduction, it's just the kid and the predator, and nobody else.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, here's the thing that's difficult, though. What age do you bring this in? Because you know, at a certain age, you're just scaring them unnecessarily. And every kid I know is slightly different. But give us kind of an average.

STUBER: Well, the kid will tell you, your child will tell you when they're ready. They watch the news. They hear people talking about these things. When they start asking questions, then they're ready to learn. But as the parent, you have to monitor that.

Let me give you a great example after parent that wrote me a letter. And this is indicative of many letters I get like this. He has a four-year-old son. He says when I'm washing the car on the weekend with my son, he always wants to help, I show him some of these little things. Here's what you could do if you were in a car and you wanted to attract attention if this happens or that happened, while they're washing the car, a little here or a little there. He doesn't say if somebody jumps out, and grabs you and steals you, so you have to use creativity, but the kids will get the point.

M. O'BRIEN: So they get the point, but they don't get scared. That's tricky, but that's -- all right, that's good.

STUBER: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: Make it just part of the average day.

All right, Bob Stuber, always a pleasure. Bob is a family safety expert joining us from Sacramento. Thanks again.



S. O'BRIEN: Let's get to Tony Harris. He's in for Daryn this morning.

Hey, Tony, good morning.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It's like following you guys. It's tough to do. Good morning.

Coming up at the top of the hour, more on the severe weather that tore through the Midwest leaving a trail of devastation.

And, later...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not your monkey, and so what.


HARRIS: Johnny Rotten and the other Sex Pistols say they won't be at their induction into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. What's up with the punk rockers? We will take a look.

Those stories and more coming up at the top of the hour.

Back to you in New York. S. O'BRIEN: All right, Tony, thank as lot. We'll see you then.

We're going to give it all away, coming you, talking end to last night's episode of "The Sopranos." We are -- cover your ears, Miles. We are giving it all away. Ooh, the last two minutes was great. Pretty amazing. What does it mean for the rest of the season? We'll talk about that just ahead on "AM Pop."

M. O'BRIEN: There it is. You just gave it away again. Bada- bing!


M. O'BRIEN: This just in to CNN. A federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, has abruptly recessed the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui, of course, facing the sentencing phase of his trial. He had pled guilty to -- at an earlier time. The judge apparently called this recess within the past five minutes.

Moussaoui, of course, a self-admitted al Qaeda and allegedly part of a plot to fly an airplane into the White House, separate from the 9/11 attacks. But nonetheless, according to prosecutors, was aware of the 9/11 attacks. In any case, apparently government witnesses who are not supposed to consult with each other prior to engaging in testimony in this sentencing phase apparently have done just that.

The judge has recessed the trial to consider the possibilities here. In the meantime, the defense in this case has asked for a sentence of life in prison. The choice for the jury is death or life. Those are the only two choices.

So we'll keep you posted. Once again, the Moussaoui trial abruptly recessed amid talk of government witnesses having conversations with each other. We don't know where this is going to lead. We'll keep you posted -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: We waited 21 months for "The Sopranos" to come back. Was it worth the wait? Warning now: we're going to talk about the surprise ending. If you don't want to know, if you've TiVoed it like Miles, and you just, you know -- Miles, this is for you. Cover your ears. OK, you ready? Play the clip.


JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR: You want any wine?



S. O'BRIEN: Wowee. That -- we kind of cut right to the end. Newsweek's Marc Peyser covers the TV industry. Nice to talk to you.


S. O'BRIEN: That was the highlight of what I thought was a pretty good show. What did you think?

PEYSER: Awesome. I mean, what more could you want? The big guy goes down in the very first episode of the last season. I mean, it doesn't get bigger than that.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, he can't die, right?

PEYSER: Of course he can die. It's the end! I'm not going to say he is going to die tomorrow. But of course he could die.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, interesting. I don't know. I mean, I actually thought the whole entire show was -- because they wove in, besides that scene, of course as Junior goes ahead and shoots him -- I thought the whole -- the stories that they wove that weren't the main focus we actually kind of interesting, too. That guy Gene (ph).

PEYSER: Right. Who we'd never seen before, this soldier who wants to retire.

S. O'BRIEN: Right and they sort of introduced him as if he's been recurring, but he hadn't.

PEYSER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: And he was retired.

PEYSER: Nobody retires.

S. O'BRIEN: It was a final hit, and yes. Clearly, nobody retires. It's kind of a sad character, I thought.

PEYSER: But nice, and interesting that they could bring somebody like that on board after all these seasons. There's this whole family who we know, and here's a guy who we're into his plight immediately.

S. O'BRIEN: And resolved, sadly enough, by the end of the show. Then we have Tony's sister has a baby.

PEYSER: Right. Which like not only does she have a baby but she's got like a weird, you know, Grateful Dead -- oh, no, it's like, it's Rolling Stones tattoo. Thank you very much. It's like, oh my god, how bizarre.

S. O'BRIEN: And she's trying to get the kid in school.

PEYSER: And her husband is like into model trains, and doesn't care about what's going on in his job. You know, bizarre mundane stuff that makes this show so great.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it really is the story of a family. Kind of a weird, dysfunctional, killer-type family. Do you think -- I mean, when you're off the air for 21 months, nobody know more than you that that can kill a show. That can get rid of all your fans. You got "Desperate Housewives" up against "The Sopranos" now. I mean, what do you think? PEYSER: I mean, clearly, I think that was something that they worried about -- David Chase worried about a little bit, that people would not care so much anymore. But in fact it really was the opposite. Everybody was waiting for the return. And they did literally come back with a bang. Of course, everybody is talking about it, except for Miles. And, you know, what more can you do to bring people back to the show? It's on for 12 more episodes this year. It's event television again.

S. O'BRIEN: Carmela and Tony. At the end of last season sort of had patched things up. This season, before he got shot, he got her a Porsche.


S. O'BRIEN: They kind of brought it back together. What do you think happens with these threads? I mean, just too hard to say? Too hard to guess?

PEYSER: Well, I mean, a big part of this show is his home family. And their relationship has been explored unlike any other television marriage on -- in the history of television, I think. So of course there's going to be ups and downs. She's going to go through a lot of angst and second thoughts about her relationship with him now that he's in this position.

S. O'BRIEN: Although -- right -- because I mean, who knows. It looked like he was -- he got -- you've got have him grasping for the phone.

PEYSER: He's clearly not going to be well, whatever the case is, in the immediate future.

S. O'BRIEN: Right. Right. And maybe not dead. What do you think?

PEYSER: I'm not going to say. I don't know how it all ends.

S. O'BRIEN: I know you don't. But still, what do you think?

PEYSER: Yes, I'm not saying.

S. O'BRIEN: Giving nothing. Marc Peyser, nice to check in with you as always. Thanks. Going to watch (INAUDIBLE).

Short break. We'll be back in a moment.