Social Media Shaming In The Nanny Community

 

 

 

As many nannies, doulas, newborn care specialists, and childcare professionals have noticed and mentioned, calling others out online has become quite a popular trend in nanny and mother groups. While the concept of holding one another accountable sounds good on the surface, there may be more here than meets the eye. Keep reading for a different perspective!

 

If you or your nanny-boss are online, you have most likely noticed that many peers within the industry have begun posting snapshots of other adults with children in their care, to publicly call them out for some sort of perceived unprofessional or unsafe behavior.

This culture was born in social media and was originally utilized to publicly name and shame those who were participating in bigoted actions or reactions online. The goal was to force accountability from those who may otherwise not face accountability, often because of their position of power, by calling them out in a public and unavoidable manner.

There are ways in which this culture has definitely served us well as a society by amplifying the voices of those who were being silenced — here’s looking at you Hannibal Burress, who called out Bill Cosby and loudly made public the allegations that had been quietly whispered for years — but as with anything, there are moments and times where this ‘shaming’ culture does not serve us, and in fact does the opposite of what it was intended to do.

 

 

 

 

What Is Public Shaming?

This brings us back to the nanny/mom groups online where there’s been a flurry of public shaming. These typically occur as a mom or other childcare pro witnesses a stranger with a child, observes some behavior they find atrocious, they take a photo of the adult and child, and then share it on a Facebook group with sometimes hundreds of thousands of followers in an effort to alert others that this ‘nanny’ is doing something terrible to this ‘nanny kid’.

Strangely enough, the majority of the people who are being photographed are women of color, caring for white children. After our recent discussion at Summit Session #6 about racism, this strikes as a point worth investigating as we think about the history of women of color caring for white children and the unspoken ‘othering’ that happens to this date for women of color who are working in domestic roles. Why is it that the people consistently being shamed are women of color? Why is it being assumed that they are the nanny as opposed to the parent or another relative? Why are these women not being approached kindly by their peers, but instead having their unauthorized photo taken and blasted across the internet with claims of their ‘bad behavior’?

These questions should not be avoided as we look at this culture in the nanny community, we need to sit with these and dig into this individually. That said, was childcare professionals we are also mandated reporters, and have a duty to report any suspected abuse or neglect.

 

A mandated reporter is a person who, because of his or her profession, is legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the authorities. These laws are in place to prevent children from being abused and to end any possible abuse or neglect at the earliest possible stage.

 

 

 

 

So What Do I Do In The Moment?

When you’re at the park, grocery store, etc. and you happen upon an adult acting or reacting in a way that you find worrisome or inappropriate with a child, consider asking yourself these questions before jumping right into the situation.

  1. Is this child in danger and/or did I just witness abuse? If yes, call the police immediately, and/or report to your states child welfare department (listed below for reference). There’s no need to post any identifying information online, but you are a mandated reporter,  and you should not hesitate to take action.
  2. If you did not witness abuse and the child is not in danger, then we can only assume you are seeing some other sort of behavior that you strongly disagree with, or would ‘want other nannies or moms to know about’, but this behavior is not abusive and does not place the child in danger.  At this point we need to pause and ask ourselves a few questions: Why am I assuming that I know the relationship between that adult and child? Could it be their parent or relative? There’s literally no way to know that, so moving forward I need to keep in mind that I may be approaching a parent and telling them, without provocation, how and why I disagree with their discipline or parenting style. If this is something you wish to do, there is no reason to publicly name and shame the adult or child in this situation. You can simply approach the adult in real-time and let them know your thoughts.

 

When we shame people online in such a public forum, we need to investigate our motives and the impact of our actions. Am I doing this to amplify the voices of those who are being silenced? Am I respecting the identity and privacy of other humans? Am I potentially damaging another person’s professional reputation over something that is not abusive or negligent enough to report to the police as a mandated reporter, but is perhaps challenging my idea of the best way to handle something? Am I unfairly targeting women and people of color as I perceive the world around me, and if so, why is that and how can I change that?

 

 

 

 

Let’s each take the time to think about our reactions and keep in mind our responsibility to report abuse through the proper channels, and to protect the privacy of children, and their accompanying adults. If you are not witnessing abuse, but feel like you need to address the situation and decide to approach someone to discuss the way they’re acting or reacting towards a child in public, here are some things to bear in mind:

 

  1. Be sure that you are in a safe, well-lit, public location. Again: if anyone is in danger, or you’re witnessing abuse, call the police!
  2. Approach the adult with a calm, helpful demeanor.
  3. Offer to help, mention that you work with children and can understand how difficult some days can be, and see if there is something you can do to help the adult in charge.
  4. Try not to make assumptions about the relationship between the adult and the child, and give the adult the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

 

 

What If I Suspect/Witness Abuse Or Neglect?

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse so that you can report with confidence, and keep in mind that posting about the situation online without formally reporting, can result in legal ramifications for you either in the form of libel charges, or unreported abuse as a mandated reporter.

According to the Child Welfare Department, “it is important to recognize high-risk situations and the signs and symptoms of maltreatment. If you suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect him or her and help the family receive assistance. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Reporting your concerns is not making an accusation; rather, it is a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed.

The circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report vary from state to state. Typically, a report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. Another frequently used standard is the requirement to report in situations in which the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child.

Mandatory reporters are required to report the facts and circumstances that led them to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. They do not have the burden of providing proof that abuse or neglect has occurred.”

If you as a nanny suspect abuse or someone comes to you suspecting abuse, each state has different reporting agencies. If you are calling from a different state other than the child resides, call Childhelp, 800-4-A-Child (800-422-4453).

Reports should contain the names and addresses of the child and the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care, the child’s age and sex, the nature and extent of the child’s injury (including any evidence of previous injuries) and any other information that the maker of the report believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the persons responsible for the injuries.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a list of the number to call and report suspected abuse or neglect, organized by state thanks to our friends at the International Nanny Association:

Alabama 
Report to Chief of Police, Sheriff, or Dept. of Human Resources

Alaska 
Department of Health and Social Services
800-478-4444

Arizona 
Police Officer or child protective services in the Dept. of Economic Security
888-SOS-CHILD (888-767-2445)

Arkansas 
Child Abuse Hotline
800-482-5964

California 
Child Protection Agency

Colorado 
Dept. of Social Services or local law enforcement agency

Connecticut 
Commissioner of Children and Family or local law enforcement agency
800-842-2288

Delaware 
Division of Child Protective Services – Dept. of Services for Children, Youth and their Families
800-292-9582

District of Columbia 
Metro Police Dept. or Child Protective Services Division

Florida 
Central Abuse Hotline
800-96-ABUSE (800-962-2873)

Georgia 
Child Welfare Agency – Dept. of Human Resources

Hawaii 
Dept. of Human Services or local law enforcement agency

Idaho 
Dept. of Health and Welfare or local law enforcement agency

Illinois 
Dept. of Children and Family Services
800-252-2873

Indiana 
Local child protection service or local law enforcement agency
800-800-5556

Iowa 
Dept. of Human Services
800-362-2178

Kansas 
Local law enforcement agency
800-922-5330

Kentucky 
Local law enforcement agency, Cabinet for Families and Children, State or County Attorney
800-752-6200

Louisiana 
Department of Social Services – Child Protection Unit

Maine 
Department of Human Services
800-452-1999

Maryland 
Department of Social Services or Local law enforcement agency
800-332-6347

Massachusetts 
Department of Social Services
800-792-5200

Michigan 
Department of Human Resources
800-942-4357

Minnesota 
Local Welfare Agency, Local law enforcement agency or county sheriff

Mississippi 
Department of Human Services
800-222-8000

Missouri 
Division of Family Services
800-392-3738

Montana 
Department of Public Health and Human Services
800-332-6100

Nebraska 
Local law enforcement agency or Department of Health and Human Services
800-652-1999

Nevada 
Division of Child and Family Services
800-992-5757

New Hampshire 
Department of Health and Human Services
800-894-5533

New Jersey 
Division of Youth and Family Services
800-792-8610

New Mexico 
Local law enforcement agency, County office of Youth and Families Department or Tribal law enforcement or social services agencies for any Indian child residing in Indian country.
800-797-3260

New York 
Child Protection Agency
800-342-3720

North Carolina 
Department of Social Services

North Dakota 
Department of Social Services
800-245-3736

Ohio 
Public Children Service Agency or Local law enforcement agency

Oklahoma 
Department of Human Services
800-522-3511

Oregon 
State Office for Services to Children and Families or Local law enforcement agency
800-854-3508, ext. 2402

Pennsylvania
800-932-0313

Rhode Island 
Department for Children and their Families
800-RI-CHILD

South Carolina 
Local law enforcement agency or Department of Social Services

South Dakota
Department of Social Services or local law enforcement agency

Tennessee 
Juvenile Judge, Department of Children’s Services, County Sheriff or local law enforcement agency

Texas 
Local or state law enforcement agency, Department of Protective and Regulatory Services
800-252-5400

Utah 
Local law enforcement agency or Division of Child and Family Services
800-678-9399

Vermont 
Commissioner of Social and Rehabilitation Services

Virginia 
Local law enforcement agency or Department of Social Services
800-552-7096

Washington 
Local law enforcement agency, Department of Social and Health Services
800-562-5624

West Virginia 
Department of Human Services
800-352-6513

Wisconsin
Department of Social Services or local law enforcement agency or county sheriff

Wyoming 
Child Protective Agency or local law enforcement agency
800-457-3659

 

 

 

As professional childcare providers, our ultimate job is to protect and nurture the children in our care. Looking out for the well-being of all children is in no way wrong, and we are naturally drawn to observing kids in any environment to make sure they’re well. That said, as a community of professionals, it is not helpful to name and shame non-abuse in such a public way. It can be damaging to all childcare providers, it is divisive, and it does not inherently result in a positive outcome for the child or for the childcare provider. Let’s work together to better protect children, and all humans as we navigate these difficult waters!

 

 


 

How do you react when you encounter a situation where you disagree with how an adult is dealing with a child in public? We’d love to hear about your best practices and personal experiences! Reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, and check out the other posts on the blog!

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