It takes a village to raise children -- and to capture sexual predators, too.
Michelle Golland, Psy.D.: The reason Jaycee Dugard was discovered is because of the intuition of two female security officers at the University of California at Berkeley. They were suspicious of Phillip Garrido and felt his behavior with the two female children was odd. But what got him caught was that they, unlike many of us, decided to act on their instinct even if it meant "meddling" in someone else's affairs. The officers took his name and reported him to his parole officer.
It was also clear to at least one neighbor that something strange was going on at the Garrido residence. One female neighbor discussed her worries with her husband, who dismissed her and told her to mind her own business. I am sure that man now wishes he had not discouraged his wife.
There was also a 911 phone call three years ago regarding the Garrido residence. The caller had reported that there were children that appeared to be living in makeshift tents. The caller was concerned that Phillip Garrido was psychotic and that the kids may have been in danger. It seems that the officers did not adequately investigate this phone call -- and simply questioned him at the door without asking to check his property.
This Contra Costa sheriff's department is now publicly acknowledging this egregious error. Sadly, it seems this mystery could have been solved years earlier had that officer investigated these allegations further.
We need to empower peace officers, parole officers, and the general public to act on their intuition when it comes to the health and safety of our children. It is imperative that we learn this very important lesson from this tragic story: If you are concerned about the welfare of any child, TELL THE AUTHORITIES. Please report your concerns to anyone and everyone who will listen to you. If they don't listen (and your concerns continue), call again and ask to speak to a supervisor. The miniscule risk of invading another's personal affairs is trumped by the reward of saving a life.
If each of us truly believed we are personally responsible to help the most vulnerable population -- our children -- we would follow our intuition and go the extra mile to protect them. Any one of us could be the hero who saves a child from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
|Dr. Michelle Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Michelle Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two wonderfully exhausting children.|