The murder of two young children by their nanny in New York City is a disturbing and sad story. Parents and non-parents alike have been terrified to hear how Yoselyn Ortega stabbed two of the children she cares for before attempting suicide by slitting her own wrists. The whole country is stunned and praying for the Marina Krim, her husband, and their surviving child through this difficult time. But some in the media want to do more than deliver the facts of this particular story or send their thoughts and condolences to the Krim family. They want to use this awful tragedy as an excuse to shame and guilt working mothers, and all of us should be offended.
For days, I’ve been angered by a story that hung around in my news round-up. It was published on Friday by Fox News and it’s titled, “Horrific New York nanny story especially agonizing for working moms.” And of course, the piece goes on to talk about all that mommy guilt and how working mothers should feel even more of it, because they aren’t keeping their children safe when they head out into the workforce. The piece reads like an anti-working-woman script.
“The murder of two young children, allegedly at the hands of their beloved nanny, has sent a chill through working mothers already conflicted over the often agonizing decision to leave their children in the care of others while they work to put food on the family table.”
The implication is clear that working mothers should be scared of leaving their children with anyone. In fact, in case you didn’t get the message, it further reiterates,
“The deaths, while tragic and disturbing, did not seem to have an immediate effect on the decision by most working mothers to go off to the job.”
So for those of you who didn’t immediately question whether you should stay home with your child and give up your career, Fox News is a little surprised at your brazenness. That is, for the women who didn’t immediately start to question your life choices. Obviously, there was no talk of whether working fathers should be “especially agonized.”
As Mary Elizabeth Williams has detailed at Salon, this case has brought out the very worst of internet trolls and shaming media. ABC News commenters saying, “All the parents say they “have to work” well, then be prepared to risk your children’s welfare,” and tweets touting, ““This is the reason I stay home with my kids and work in the evenings while my husband can be home. #soscary” show us the most despicable lows our society has hit. We’re condemning a working mother instead of supporting her as she grieves for her two children.
In some ways, these comments reflect the disgusting sanctimony directed at Jessica Ridgeway‘s mother after she lost her little girl. People directed blame at a mother for allowing her 10-year-old to walk three blocks by herself, instead of focusing on the murderer who attacked a child. Now, when two young kids were taken from this world too soon, we’re guilting a mom for working outside of the home and leaving her little ones with a nanny.
The story of the Krim family is horrifying. Of course we’re all going to have an emotional reaction when we hear about the brutal killing of young children. But our reaction should not be to shame working moms or disparage Marina Krim. We should be outraged at the woman who committed these crimes and doing everything we can to support two parents going through the worst thing imaginable.