Last month I posted my thoughts on this blog after Chandler infant Amberlee Brown was killed when her father accidentally left her in the car on a 108 degree summer afternoon. This post generated a lot of spirited debate in the comments. Almost all of us wondered how a parent could forget their three month old baby.
An AP article, "Wide Disparity in Treatment of Adults Who Leave Kids to Die in Hot Cars" posted today is a lengthy but very interesting read and analysis of this type of tragic incident.
Regarding what seems like the unfathomable act of forgetting a child, memory expert David Diamond, an associate psychology professor at the University of South Florida, and Daniel Shachter, a Harvard brain researcher, have this to say:
It's easy to forget your keys or that cup of coffee on the roof. But a child? How is that possible?
The awful truth, experts say, is that the stressed-out brain can bury a thought — something as trite as a coffee cup or crucial as a baby — and go on autopilot. While researchers once thought the different parts of the brain worked in conjunction with each other, they now realize that different portions dominate at different times.
"The value of the item is not only not relevant in these competing memory systems," says memory expert David Diamond, an associate psychology professor at the University of South Florida who also works at a Veterans Affairs hospital. "But, in fact, we can be more complacent because we tell ourselves, 'There's no way I would forget my child.'"
Harvard University professor Daniel Shachter, a leading brain researcher, says memory is very "cue dependent."
"And in these cases, the cue is often missing," he says. "When we go on automatic, it's very possible for us to ignore or forget about seemingly important things."
Like a baby.
Research aside, I'll never understand it…
It appears that Kyle Brown, father of Amberlee, isn't going to be charged. The last news story I could find, dated July 2, said authorities were awaiting autopsy results to decide whether or not to charge Mr. Brown. I would think that in the month since Amberlee was killed, the autopsy would be complete and the decision made. The complete lack of news on this story since July 2 leads me to believe Brown will face no charges.