When I started writing this article I went on the internet and googled “nanny cams” Most of the search results where sales oriented but I did manage to find some disturbing articles and videos. One in particular was of a woman in the US who has been accused of abusing an 18 month old child. The video (although only a few seconds long) was very disturbing. I reflected on the past 21 years since I opened my agency and the changes in technology that allow us, as parents, to monitor our caregivers. Is this right? Is this ethical? It is legal in Canada (without audio).
My children are older now and when we had a nanny, surveillance cams where not popular. To be honest, I would never have considered using one anyway. I have to admit that I have always had an office in my home so my level of confidence was obviously different from a parent who had to leave their children alone in their home with their nanny. I will also admit that I used to run around the park near our home in mid day to observe my nanny with my children (notice how I didn’t say spy)
Over the years as an agent my advice to employers (regarding this issue) has always been the same. “If you think you need a nanny cam to observe your nanny’s behavior than obviously trust is an issue and you shouldn’t employ that particular nanny”.
Are nanny cams just part of society’s transition to the ever dreaded big brother syndrome or are they a legitimate tool we can use to protect our children?
Instead of nanny cams I have suggested other ways to monitor your children’s safety when they are being cared for by your nanny
Obviously you don’t want to make a habit of this but if you are really concerned about your children drop by in the middle of the day and see how thing are going
Have your old nanny spend time with your new one. Obviously this will not be an entirely objective observation but your old caregiver may notice odd or disturbing behavior.
Talk to your children
If your children are old enough ask them about their day and how they feel about their nanny. Obviously if they don’t like her on a certain day because they have been justifiably disciplined you have to take their opinion in perspective.
If you have neighbors who are at home during the day let them know if you have a new nanny and ask them to discreetly keep an eye out for unacceptable behavior in the back yard, or at the local park etc.
It is also a good idea to spend time with your nanny during the transition phase of her employment. As a parent, you may be able to pick up signs of disturbing behavior and it is a good idea to go with your instincts. As always, it is crucial to properly screen your nanny and check references thoroughly .Our agency also does criminal records checks and asks for a drivers abstract. Keep in mind that, although your nanny will be working without direct supervision, she is an employee with feelings and pride. Spying on her and scrutinizing her in a way that indicates you don’t trust her can erode the employment relationship. If you don’t trust your nanny for any reason and you cannot resolve the issue by discussing it, it may be time to look for a replacement