• Sat, Sep 14 2013

If You’re Secretly Taping Your Babysitter Because Something Is Fishy, Maybe You Shouldn’t Leave Your Child Alone With Her

6993960366_6e16ef27f5__1379178132_142.196.156.251A family dog became viciously protective of Benjamin and Hope Jordan‘s daughter whenever the babysitter came around. The parents, sensing something must be really wrong for the dog to react that way, placed an iPhone under the couch to record the interaction between the babysitter and their toddler.

“It started with cussing,” Benjamin Jordan told WCSC. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up. To know that (for) five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day.”

This dog is pretty much the best ever, and this is ultimately a great story. But I will never understand the whole we-think-something-is-really-wrong-here-so-we are-going-to-secretly-tape-our-babysitter approach to parenting. If I was ever so unnerved by someone that I had to secretly tape their behavior – there is no way in hell I would ever leave my kid alone with that person.

My dog is the sweetest thing, ever. He lunges at no one. If he ever began to lunge at someone who had been in my house for five months and in charge of watching my child, I would totally freak.

I’m really glad they heard the iPhone recording and were able to save their child before any more damage was done – I just wish people would trust their intuition a little more. It’s great that they have the recording and can prosecute this person – but no way in hell am I using my child as bait.  I’ve always had a strong intuition and it’s only grown stronger since I’ve become a mother. Call me a “mama bear” call me a “sanctimommy” I really don’t care. If someone is making me question my child’s safety – I’m not leaving them alone so I can “catch” them on my iPhone.

(photo: Flickr/CreativeCommons/State Farm)

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  • KaeTay

    but by doing so she can have the babysitter put in Jail. I would do it and then be around the corner or VERY close by so I could do a surprise visit and help make sure they can never hurt anyones kid ever again.

    • Evelyn

      I can understand the reasoning behind exposing the babysitter so that no other children are upset/harmed but I would personally rather not have them babysit my kid another time just to catch them. I would rather just make excuses and find another sitter than wait until absolutely sure by catching them out harming my child. I realize that this might be a cowardly attitude that puts other children at risk but I would never wish to leave a child with someone I didn’t 100% trust. I can see that the parents might want to be completely sure if they were someone the parents were close to outside of the babysitting arrangement, like the baby’s cousin or a best friend’s kid, but even then I would be reluctant to use my own kid to prove a point.

      I am assuming that the source or the parents tried to change pronouns to protect the child’s identity and then slipped because the article refers to a daughter and the quote uses “he”.

  • KaeTay

    but then again my dogs.. if they saw that they would have attacked the babysitter. Our husky and jack russell mix is VERY protective of her.

    • Erin Murphy

      We have an aussie who is deceptively fluffy and adorable…. until she’s uncomfortable. Then she is a vicious beast.

  • Courtney Lynn

    My son was with his first sitter for about a month before we yanked him and found someone much better. She didn’t come to our home, but him to hers. I plead with parents to please use your gut instinct and learn the red flags! If you’re uncomfortable at all, find someone else. I’m so glad we changed sitters and my son adored his new one and still enjoys visiting for play dates even though I’m now a SAHM. When there was a girl she was watching that was not playing nicely and being mean to the younger kids ( my son included) she even told the girl’s mom that she could no longer watch her. The well-being of her own kids and charges means something to her. Her daughter is 2 weeks younger than him and they’re good friends.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I totally understand not wanting to jump to conclusions and possibly lose a babysitter who is perfectly fine. However I am with Maria, I would never leave my kid with someone I had any suspicious feelings about. I baby sit, and had my own daycare in our last town and I always treat the kids like they are my own. However, I do that because I am utterly terrified to leave my daughter with anyone but my family until she is able to fully talk and explain what goes on during the day while I am gone.

  • Lacey

    This article goes beyond sanctimommy; it’s just downright judgy. What would you have done? “Officer, my dog barks at the babysitter so surely she must be abusing my child!” Or would you have just let her go so that she might move on to another child?

    I’m sure the parents are beating themselves up enough without you helping out.

    • Hibbie

      For all the outrage against victim blaming and slut shaming on this site, I’d expect an article about this subject to be railing against the babysitter, not questioning the parents. They didn’t do anything wrong. A questionable situation arose, and they took care of it.

      Instead of asking why they didn’t “do more” why not ask why a 22-year old would abuse a baby?

    • keelhaulrose

      You’re not required to keep a babysitter until they are proven guilty of something. If your gut says something is happening to to your child when your babysitter is there, time for a new babysitter.

    • personal

      But what do you tell your boss in the meantime about why you can’t come to work? I am, of course, assuming they only had to record the babysitter once.

    • keelhaulrose

      If you’re going to have to find a new babysitter either way, you’re going to have to do some ‘splainin to your boss no matter what.
      And,, while I can’t speak for every mother, I know most would rather explain to their boss that something is wrong and they need to find a new babysitter, than take even one more day to record, then start.

    • Muggle

      Because firing a babysitter because of “gut feelings” and a change in the dog’s behavior is totally rational…

    • keelhaulrose

      I know my dog. She’s skittish from being abused, and doesn’t trust new people easily, but with most people am hour or two is enough to keep her calm around them. However there was one person she never warmed up to, and after six months of knowing that person, and still freaking out whenever this person came over, the guy announced he wouldn’t come over again… and left with my brother’s laptop and PlayStation.
      If she suddenly got protective of my children whenever someone came over, it would be enough for me. She’s very protective of them normally, but it’s normally from afar, so if she suddenly started showing protective behavior and putting herself between my children and that person, that would be enough for me.

    • Courtney Lynn

      I love Maria’s articles, but I see what you’re saying. If the kid was 7 months old at the time and had been with the sitter for 5 months, then he was about 2 months old when she started. Red flags are not as obvious at that time and the abusive behavior may have progressed. I don’t think we really know that much as far as the parents are concerned. I just really urge parents to never ignore their gut, though. No judgement on them. Just advice.

  • keelhaulrose

    I have a dog who was badly abused, and she’s skittish around EVERYONE, but she’ll quickly warm up to those we assure her are okay and talk with.
    Still, there was a friend of my brother who came by often that she never liked, and we couldn’t figure out why she’d snap at the guy. The last time we saw him he stole my brother’s Playstation and laptop. I think my dog knew. If the dog doesn’t start to trust someone, we are a little wary.

  • DMH

    “If You’re Secretly Taping Your Babysitter Because Something Is Fishy, Maybe You Shouldn’t Leave Your Child Alone With Her”

    A babysitter abuses a child, but let’s blame the parents. Are you freaking kidding me?

  • Kat

    I’m sorry I didn’t have time to read anything but the title but INORITE.

  • zeisel

    Dogs are amazing.

  • Angela

    Of course it’s ludicrous to leave your baby with someone you think is abusive as bait to catch him/her redhanded. However, I suspect that in most cases it isn’t really like that. When my son was a baby I thoroughly vetted all his sitters. They all seemed very wonderful but of course there’s always news stories like this that remind you that you can never be 100% sure, especially before your kids can talk. So if he would cry at drop off or I found a new bump or scratch (nothing unusual for a kid learning to crawl/walk) or he was unusually fussy I would occasionally worry. Sometimes I’d even worry when there wasn’t any sign of trouble just because I’m a mom and that’s what I’d do. It would have been crazy to fire my sitter every time something like that came up and it wouldn’t have solved the problem.

    Especially if the dog was prone to being protective I could see where it wouldn’t necessarily be a red flag. I imagine that most parents who employ nanny cams and such aren’t actually expecting to find abuse. They just want to be reassured so they can get on with their day and laugh at how silly they are. And I bet that most of the time that’s exactly what happens, but not always unfortunately.

  • Amber

    They didn’t use their child as bait. They thought something might be wrong so they hid a tape recorder to see if they were being paranoid or if something really was off.

    They weren’t baiting the babysitter, they weren’t hoping to catch her abusing their son.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “they weren’t hoping to catch her abusing their son” Exactly! I’m sure they were hoping to find nothing, and I’m sure they felt ridiculous doing it (until they found something).

  • MoD

    Finding a caregiver is so difficult – it’s up there as one of the most stressful things I’ve encountered as a new parent.

    I do think in this instance, I think the parents did the right thing without being overly paranoid. I might have done something similar. I recently had a care arrangement that unfortunately ended suddenly on a Friday, and I needed someone the following Monday or my husband or I would not be able to go to work. Luckily, I happened to know a woman who was looking for nanny work and things worked out in the end. But if I hadn’t known her, or couldn’t afford her…would my husband or I have lost our jobs?

    What I’m getting at is that sometimes people have to choose between making a living or watching their kid themselves. Passing judgement isn’t fair and this situation wasn’t black and white. The dog was barking at the nanny, not exactly damning evidence. While I agree that people should trust their gut, I wouldn’t fire a nanny over a dog barking.

    There’s a lot of privilege when it comes to child care. Sometimes people don’t have choices. Sometimes people have to use pretty shitty childcare because it’s either that or unemployment. Those parents might have to ignore those instincts that tell them something’s not right. I just really think the judgement’s uncalled for.

    But if it had been me to discover this – I’d be going to jail, not the babysitter. Because, no question, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from hurting her. There’s a whole ragey instinct thing in me when it comes to my baby.

  • Evenaar

    To everyone’s great observations so far I would also like to add something that came to mind reading this: not everyone just trusts their gut feelings automatically. Many people are just naturally inclined to look at the factual, rather than the emotional world. They wouldn’t just go about ‘trusting’ something as vague as an instinctual feeling that something’s not right. While these people may benefit from learning to pay attention to gut feelings, the opposite is also true: people that are inclined to go with their gut benefit from learning to be more rational. Not everyone works the same way we do. I can imagine that for many people, firing someone just because of a strong emotional reaction would be wildly irrational, unfair, and a silly thing to do. Where your own child is concerned, we all want to do the very best, and not take chances, but we also all have different ideas of what that looks like. That’s exactly why at great websites like this one, we all try so hard not to judge. And this article perfectly illustrates exactly how hard it can be to accept that somebody else’s ‘normal’ is way outside our own norm.

    • Muggle

      I also think that for many people, firing someone just because of a dog’s reaction to them would be wildly irrational, unfair, and a silly thing to do. Gut feelings aren’t exactly rational and people who don’t want to to act without reason are not going to act on them. I wouldn’t.

  • VA Teacher

    Yeeeah…. I met the dog of a family friend the other week and it went from happy and wagging to immediately lunging and growling at me. The owners were shocked and upset because he’d never been anything but overly loving with every other person he’d ever met. Who knows? Maybe he smelled my cat, maybe he didn’t like my perfume, maybe he sensed that I wasn’t super-comfortable around his breed. Throughout the evening, he calmed slightly, but was always “on guard” when I walked by.

    I’m a teacher and I was a nanny for over 10 years. It would be a serious loss on a family’s part if they took a dog’s reaction as “proof” of the kind of person I am.

    I’m sad for the kid that this person turned out to be nuts, but I think the parents did the right thing in finding out the TRUTH and not relying on an animal who can’t explain itself.

  • chickadee

    I have to say that I totally understand why the parents did what they did — it may have been that the dog was at fault, or perhaps the babysitter was antagonizing the dog. There was apparently enough doubt in their minds that the babysitter was vicious to avoid reacting without proof. I assume that they had not noticed marks or bruising on their son in the past, since they didn’t mention it in the story.

    In any case, perhaps the parents were also motivated by the thought that they could prevent this young woman from hurting anyone else. Now she has to serve 1-3 years in prison and she has been placed on a child-abuse registry. Had they merely stopped using her without obtaining proof, she would be free to abuse other children.

  • NicknamesAreDull

    I had a babysitter where we used to live, and she was probably the best babysitter in the world. My dog never really warmed up to her and would occasionally act aggressive- he never bit/tried to bite, he just acted all tough. We were suspicious, so we set up a teddy bear camera. Turns out, our dog didn’t like other people with our baby. We watched the sitter sing, play Candy Land 10 times in a row, and take as good of care as any parent could.

    So, I don’t really blame the parents, and I think it’s kinda narrow minded that people are blaming the parents. If I had fired her because my dog’s reaction, I would have lost an amazing sitter.

  • SusannahJoy

    I know this is way late (life with a baby) but I wanted to say that I agree with you. I get what everyone is saying about how it might come across as paranoid, and pointing out that this way that woman is stopped, which is clearly a great thing. The parents may have done the “right” thing that benefits the most people, but if I thought someone might be hurting my child, however silly and paranoid I felt, I wouldn’t leave him with them.