Rebecca Bailey is the psychologist who helped Jaycee reconnect with her family after being missing for close to 18 years. Now on the heels of the horrific kidnappings in Cleveland, she advises parents on how they can protect their loved ones from potential abductors.
One of the scariest things about the kidnappings of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight is how seemingly random they were. Amanda, Gina, and Michelle were just unsuspecting young girls — it could happen to anyone. So to make sure a predator like Ariel Castro can’t strike again, Dr. Rebecca Bailey — Jaycee Dugard’s therapist — gives these crucial, life-saving tips on stranger interactions and avoiding potentially harmful characters.
Rebecca Bailey: Parents Need To Be Vigilant & Communicative
“The worst thing for a parent to do is to stick your head in the sand,” Rebecca tells TIME. Parents need to be vigilant in teaching their children how to handle suspicious situations, she says. “We need to help give our kids the skills to deal with a variety of challenges,” Rebecca points out, “from situations as rare as a stranger abduction or a non-family abduction to dealing with coaches and dealing with unwanted approaches.”
Rebecca elaborates on how exactly to teach and prepare children: “Parents should start by teaching them to be aware of their environment, like helping a kid know his or her address and phone number.” The most important thing of all though, is communication.
It’s unbelievable how many kids will have experienced a scary event and not talk to their parents about it—whether they’ve been followed home by somebody as they were walking home from school or walking to the store. We live in this world where there are lots of scary images and events, and sometimes I think parents mistakenly believe kids are unaware, and they decide that if you sweep it away, it won’t affect them… Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk to your kids.
Jaycee Dugard’s Therapist: Avoiding Compromising Situations Is Key
Finally, Rebecca reveals go-to strategies young people can employ to deal with unwanted approaches:
If someone pulls over and asks for directions, it’s important that kids, whether they’re in middle school or high school, understand they don’t need to go up to the car window. They can say, “No thank you,” or “I’m busy,” or say nothing. So the whole point is to take the fear out of these topics that are not necessarily about an abduction, but also about unwanted approaches, dealing with things as explicit as sexual comments in the mall or putting yourself in a compromising position.
Being aware of the surroundings is most of the battle, Rebecca says. As for parents, the best thing they can do is be hands-on and willing to talk with their children. What do you think, HollywoodLifers?
— Andrew Gruttadaro