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The Heartful Parent is also owned by Christy Keating. Through The Heartful Parent, Christy offers parent coaching, public speaking, and classes with the mission to ensure that every parent gets the support they need on their parenting journey. She believes that parenting should come from the heart, and her goal is to help parents discover what works in the most heartfelt and authentic way possible.  If you are interested in parent coaching and education, please contact Christy at christy@theheartfulparent.com.

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Nanny Arrested for Child Porn: Tips and Take-Aways

KIRO 7 and Fox News reported yesterday that an 18-year old woman who was offering babysitting and nanny services via Care.com in Pierce County, Washington was arrested on child pornography charges. The investigation revealed that the woman was in possession of child pornography and may have also shared the via a website for individuals sexually interested in those images. Investigators are concerned about her admitted sexual interest in infants and toddlers and are seeking additional information from the public.

This case, as disturbing as it is, is fairly unusual given that the vast majority of sex offenses are committed by men. However, this case should serve as an important reminder to all parents and caregivers that we should not make safety assumptions about anyone as offenders sometimes come in unexpected packages. Vigilance, and a familiarity with red flags and warning signs as taught by Savvy is critical.


In addition, here are some take-aways and tips from this case:


  1. Background checks are essential—you should conduct them on anyone providing care for your child, particularly if you are not familiar with the individual’s personal history. Care.com and other services on the web do allow you to pay for background checks for providers and not paying the extra money for this is playing with fire. That said, it is critical that we recognize that many offenders have never been reported or caught—background checks will only tell you If an individual has been convicted and maybe if they have been arrested (depending on the quality of the service). Moreover, some offenders have successfully used alternate names in their background checks, thus avoiding detection. Just like offender registries, background checks can give parents a false sense of security that we should not rely on.

  2. Before hiring anyone to care for your children, it is critical that you contact non-family member references of individuals for whom the caregiver has provided car. Knowing what other families experiences have been is important and can give you some insight into potential issues, even if those issues are not criminal in nature.

  3. After hiring someone, it is wise to check in on them unannounced and at irregular times when they may least expect it. Not only do you always have the right to enter your home, when it comes to the safety of your children, you always have the right to confirm that they are being treated as you would hope.

  4. It is important to trust your gut—if something feels off, don’t question yourself! Too many of us are afraid of making a scene or terminating someone just because something doesn’t feel quite right. And while our guts may be wrong, causing us to trust someone we shouldn’t, when our gut says “no” we should listen. I’d rather be wrong and safe rather than right and sorry—wouldn’t you?

  5. Nanny cams are not all they are cracked up to be. Nanny cams were not, as far as I understand, a factor in this case, but they’re worth addressing nonetheless because many people will rush to install them in light of this incident. Before doing that, there are some important considerations. First, depending on the laws in your state, it may be illegal to film/record someone without their knowledge. Second, for majority of wonderful nannies out there, it can erode an important element of trust—many wonderful nannies don’t want to work in a house where they feel that their every move is being scrutinized and they have no privacy at all. Third, for someone intent on doing harm, nanny cams are easy to work around—offenders are often quite careful about when and where they offend. I am actually not a believer in nanny cams for these reasons, and also because like the background checks mentioned above, I think they can give us a false sense of security; the reality is they should never take the place of good old-fashioned vigilance.

In the end, it is important to remember that while this was a frightening incident and it is horrifying to think of anyone’s child being victimized in this way, the specific circumstances of this case are unusual. Following the tips above and paying attention to any other red flags and warning signs indicative of problems are our number one line of defense in keeping our children safe!