Part of a Caring Community?

I am a member of several online parent communities. Every now and again, someone will post something like¬†“Questionable caregiver at Dolores Park,” or “Nanny ignoring children at Bernal Library.”¬†These posts invariably anger me. Here’s the last exchange I had on a list about this very annoying practice:

The Post**

My babysitter saw a nanny mistreating a boy named H at Bowden Park in Palo Alto on Friday, July 12. She was Latino. She was yelling at H, threw a stroller toward him, and was cursing in Spanish. There was another nanny she was talking to, who was taking care of a child maybe 4 years old named A. They were talking to each other and not watching the children.

My (initial) response

There are so many things wrong with this post.

First, you didn’t see this, so I think it’s inappropriate for you to post it here as if it were absolutely true.

Second, putting a stranger child’s name in a post like this is also unsafe, as anyone could be reading this and now knows that a child named H goes to Bowden Park and (perhaps) is not well looked after by his caregiver.

Third, you have no idea what actually went down (see my first point) and as a result, even if what your babysitter says is true, the context of the situation may be that H was not being mistreated at all. If you have ever had a challenging day with your toddler and said or did something you’d later regret, hope that there aren’t other parents nearby judging you.

Fourth, what was the point of saying the nanny is Latino? How, in this community, does that narrow down the possibilities of who this woman is? Mentioning her ethnicity does nothing except point out your bias, especially since you didn’t mention H’s race. Maybe she was H’s aunt or sister or cousin and not a nanny at all. But you weren’t there, so you can’t really say.

Fifth, what makes you think H’s parent even uses this list? Are you posting this in other parent lists as well? If so, all of my above points apply to those postings as well.

I hope this site will not become a place to point out all the “bad” decisions we are seeing other people make with children who are not our own. If you see child abuse, do something about it in the moment.

 

Other Community Responses

#1

I just wanted to say bravo to your nanny for reporting, and thank you for posting to get word to the parent. I am actually just starting my nanny search but this is my biggest fear realized. So glad there are responsible nannies and parents looking out for other kids!

#2

First, there is nothing wrong with your post. In fact, it could be a God-send to a mother who needs to know. Mentioning the child’s name is EXTREMELY helpful as it quickly clarifies for a parent whether or not this could be their child. Mentioning that a child named Hugo goes to a particular park poses no danger to Hugo but may quickly help identify him. (By the way, let’s be real, who among us hasn’t called out our own child’s name in a park?) Second, mentioning the race of a nanny or caregiver when trying to identify that person is of no consequence other than to help identify that person. (There is nothing racist about calling a black person black, white person white, Asian person Asian or Latino person Latino.) Third, I don’t care how hard a day a person has had, if that caregiver was a nanny or even relative out with the child, throwing a stroller toward a small child and cursing at them is a danger sign. Fourth, it doesn’t matter that the person who posted knows whether or not H’s parents are on this list — what matters is that the person cared enough to post here just in case. I speak as a mother who once saw a description of MY OWN children being deserted at a farmer’s market by THEIR nanny. The clear & concise description helped me identify my own kids & nanny immediately, and I am eternally grateful for the lovely person who cared enough to post what she saw, not knowing whether my kids’ parents were on this group. I do not know little Hugo, but no child deserves that treatment — thank you for posting what your babysitter saw — I consider that highly responsible.

 

Me (again)

Again, if this was such an egregious act of child endangerment and abuse, then the person who saw the activity should have intervened to help the child and/or called the police. Obviously, the situation did not call for that, because the person who witnessed the incident did not tell anyone except for their employer, the person who posted this message. How seriously can we take the posting of someone who was not even there?!?

The issue is not only the child’s name, but where the child was seen and the fact that perhaps this child is not well attended to. Not the same as yelling our own child’s name out. Furthermore it targets this child and the alleged nanny to a community of thousands when there is nothing other than this one person’s second-hand account of an isolated incident. How can this be responsible?

Pointing out the nanny’s race (if she was even the nanny) is suspect when the original poster ONLY pointed out the race of the nanny and not that of the child. There is nothing racist about pointing out race, except that she may or may not have even been Latino. What was it about her that made the witness so sure that the woman was Latino? The fact that it was also assumed that she was a nanny? The fact that she also spoke Spanish?

This post is dangerous if it sets a precedent that every time someone on this list sees something that they consider to be inappropriate behavior between a caregiver and a child they will post it here. It is even more dangerous if it becomes a place to pass on second-hand information about possible abuses. That is gossip. Not responsibility.

I certainly did not join this list for that purpose, and I suspect others did not either. If PAMP wants to have a nanny policing area, then create a special list.

 

Community (which is really just one woman, again)

Not only is there nothing wrong with reporting potential mistreatment of a child in this forum, but it can be life saving. In my case, a parent cared enough to report the fact that my children were being deserted while out with their nanny. That is more than a public service — it is being a part of a community that cares.

Regardless of whether the babysitter called 911, or whether the behavior was egregious enough to warrant such a call, she did care enough to let the parent she was working for know about the incident. And the parent who received that news cared enough to pass it along.

Regarding naming the child — there is no possible harm there — no more than anyone overhearing a child’s name on any playground anywhere. And in this case, there is far less harm as who knows when H will show up at that park again or who H even is! Be real. Yet, if H’s mother is a member of this group, or a friend of hers is, knowing that child’s name could be extremely helpful to her.

Regarding mentioning that the caregiver was Latino, that could be helpful in identifying her. But why worry about it? The post-er said she, herself, is Latino. It’s no different from stating that the person is of any culture or race — and it was used only as a neutral descriptor.

Over my years of involvement with this group I have seen many such posts and have always been glad that people have the courage to come forward in this forum with such news. When it was my turn to see my own nanny & kids in the post, I was shocked, but very grateful. Nannies & caregivers sometimes act very differently when alone with the children than they do in front of the child’s parents. Parents really do have a right to know.

 

And me (again, and for the last time)

Again, for those who find this a valuable service, make a separate list. I’m sincerely glad it was helpful for you. If others find it so helpful, and are interested in checking a list that reports bad nannies, then there should be no opposition to creating a speciality list within PAMP. Join in if you are concerned about your nanny or you want to know about the goings on of other people’s nannies.

Side note: Just because you are of a particular race does not mean you are infallible when it comes to identifying other’s racial identity. Generally, identifying race is never a “neutral” descriptor. It’s hardly a good descriptor at all when it is all that is given. Saying she’s Latino tells you NOTHING about what she looks like or even who she is. If it’s not helpful for making an identification, one must wonder why it’s being mentioned at all.

 

* I can’t find the original posting, because it was taken down by the site. Yay! Downside: this is my recollection, and perhaps it contains errors. At the very least, I’ve captured what I was responding to, although I do believe this was the post, in its entirety.

** I removed the name of the child from all postings given my discomfort with the original poster’s use of his name.