This past weekend, a friend told us how they had recently discovered that their nanny was mistreating their child. After a neighbor had mentioned that she had heard screaming coming from their apartment, they installed a recorder to check. What they heard was their caregiver yelling at their child to stop crying, to clean up, etc and also threatening to leave him alone in the apartment if he did not stop crying. Needless to say, they are now looking for a new nanny.
On a related note, Chana Weisberg at JewishMom has been posting quite a lot about sexual abuse recently. Unfortunately, in her neighbourhood of Nachlaot, a man had recently been apprehended for abusing several children. This was a man everyone knew and trusted, and no one suspected of anything, again underscoring the fact that we need to be vigilant to keep our children safe. Weisberg had devoted a few posts to this subject, particularly how to prevent abuse and how to talk to your children about it. It's definitely worth a read. You can find it here and here.
All this has made me think about safety for our children. While I do have the privilege of being home with my children most of the time, there are times when I leave them with babysitters. Sometimes it is to attend births, sometimes to go to meetings and doctors appointments and sometimes just to breathe and get coffee. They are also at school many hours a day. Nobody can be with their children all the time.
I don't think it makes sense to be overly paranoid and anxious about this topic, but one definitely should be cautious when choosing their caregivers. We are lucky to have found some really wonderful college students who are great with our kids and truly love them. I can only hope that they act in that same warm way towards my children when I am not around. Thankfully, the feedback I have gotten from friends who have seen my kids out and about with these babysitters has always been positive.
Children are vulnerable, particularly children with special needs who may not be able to communicate to us as clearly when something or someone is bothering them. As Y. is getting older, he is getting better at telling us what is wrong. Just this morning he told me his ear hurt and, indeed, he has an ear infection and is currently passed out on the couch. Still, I do worry that he is too trusting and open to anyone and would not be able to alert us to mistreatment.
It is hard to strike the right balance between suspecting everyone to being overly trusting. Unfortunately, child abuse is a reality that we need to be aware of. There are some pretty disturbed people out there and we can only hope that by educating our children and ourselves about these issues, we will prevent anymore tragedies from happening.
Feel free to share your thoughts and/or links to other articles dealing with child safety.