Men as Babysitters: What’s So Scary?

Hi Readers! Over at Lisa Belkin’s Motherlode at the NY Times, there’s a really frank and nicely written piece by a woman who came to the exact opposite conclusion I did. She was mulling whether or not to hire a male babysitter for her child. On the one hand, the young man she interviewed seemed like a dream: He grew up in the nabe, his mom ran a day care center, he sounded warm on the phone and had great references. On the other hand…

He was male.

In the end, surprised by her own misgivings about men,  the writer decided to hire a woman instead. And she wonders if she did the right thing, or ended up missing out on a great babysitter and possibly a family friend.

When our kids were a little younger, my husband and I hired some male babysitters for about a year each and didn’t really worry about their gender. In fact, we hoped they’d take the kids outside and have them playing a lot, so we sort of pigeonholed them that way: more sporty than women babysitters. (We were wrong.) And it’s true that I have sons and the writer of the Motherlode piece has a daughter, so I can see where if she’d had sons instead, she might have been a little less leery.

But what I love about the essay and regret about her decision is how much she realized her decision was based on a creeping prejudice against men around kids. While, yes, statistically I’m sure men ARE more likely to molest kids than women are, the fact is MOST men AND most women are not out to molest kids at all.

The fear of perversion is so front and center in our culture that it sometimes seems to color our perceptions of almost all male/child interactions. In some day care centers, male employees aren’t allowed to change diapers by themselves. The number of guys for whom diaper changing is a turn-on must be tiny indeed and yet, it is top of mind.

Then there’s the suspicion of any man snapping a kid’s picture: Is it for porn? And any man near a school: Is he a predator? There are parents who don’t want a male pre-k teacher, and others who wonder why an 80-year-old codger is willing to teach woodworking to the local kids. A generation ago, we’d see him as Gepetto-like. Now “Worst-First” thinking kicks in: He likes kids, he wants to be around them…oh my god!

This prejudice is just as corrosive as any other, and it comes from the same source: Fear. Fear reinforced daily by TV shows highlighting the saddest stories, the worst individuals, the least likely/most sexually titillating events. And movies that revel in sadism. And books that take us inside so many “twisted” minds that twisted seems the new normal. And these lessons ping back and forth, echoing endlessly, “Our children are at risk!”

I would never say that absolutely all men (or women) are good, or that no child has ever been harmed by a babysitter, or even that this woman made the wrong choice. In fact, I’m thrilled that she wrote the piece so that we can talk about the problem: Seeing all men as predators.

And so, here we are, talking. And, hopefully, peeling away at the prejudice, inching our way toward some sanity. — Lenore

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247 Responses to Men as Babysitters: What’s So Scary?

  1. Jessika December 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    In a time where children more and more need male rolemodels, men feel basically forced to leave jobs in daycare, schools etc., or not apply at all. That rather than invite the suspicion that there’s something odd with them for wanting to work in a school environment. There’s only so much you want to do in offering yourself up on a platter for suspicion. Can’t say I blame them but the children miss out.

  2. michelle December 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    We had this great young girl who was the ultimate babysitter – got the kids outside at every chance and would PLAY with them. Lived in the neighborhood. Would sometimes bring her younger brother and sister with her for more playing fun. The younger brother was a couple years older than my son and when big sister wasn’t watching, he had my son touching his private parts… My husband and his father went off the deep end but seriously, boys do this kind of stuff and you tell them it’s not appropriate and life goes on. We aren’t talking huge sex abuse kinds of stuff here! I felt bad because we lost a great babysitter because she was too embarrassed over the whole incident…. It doesn’t matter if your babysitter is male or female. Things can be fine or not. Just deal and take the normal precautions!

  3. enyawface December 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    Just wanted to say thanks for seeing the problem and relate one of my own recent stories as a single male.

    I am a member of a family gym. Children over 6 must either use a family changing room with their parents of opposite gender or use the appropriate locker room for their gender, so with many single parents these days, we have several young men and boys using the locker room without a parent.
    Last week there was this 7yo little boy, all by himself in the locker room. We had just came in from the hot tub. I noticed he kind of just stood around in the locker room, kind of looking like he was lost. On the way back from my shower, he was just walking into the shower area. As I was finishing getting dressed he came out of the shower area, and again was kind of just hanging out and looking lost. I wanted to ask if he needed some help, but there was that fear: I’m a single man, and what if someone says something. It turned out the poor kid had an assigned locker, and they had assigned this little kid a top locker in the dark corner of the locker room. So first he was afraid to go into the corner by himself, and then being the size of a 7yo could barely reach the combination lock, and forget about reaching a hook to hang up his clothes. Again, i refrained from offering any help out of the fear of the thoughts that would come to the mind of anyone who saw me helping the kid, or if he happened to mention it to his mother.
    I remember back in the days when I used to go swimming with my sister. I could have gone into the ladies dressing room with her, but, this was my sister, no way she wanted her 5yo lil bro in there with her. So off to the mens area I went all by myself. Almost any time, if there was a man in the mens dressing area, they would always offer to turn on the shower for me and hit the soap dispenser, and didn’t seem to think anything of it. I’m sure if there had been lockers they would have helped me with that too. But unfortunately it seems, those days are gone.
    I watched an episode of “What would you do?” recently. The scenario was a crying lost child. In the first scenario they placed him in an area with lots of women, within 5 minutes,a woman was talking to the kid and helping him. Then they had him go into an area that was almost all men. The boy sat there for nearly an hour and no help, there was a group of men nearby, you even saw one of them point to the boy, but they never approached him. When Jon Quinones confronted them, their response, “I didn’t want someone to think I’m some perv or something.”
    I also belong to a nice family resort, and there is a lady there, that every time she sees a single man, me included, brings up the subject of pedophiles. She stocks one of the info centers with information on spotting pedophiles in resorts and for $300 the organization will send a “volunteer” to teach a “training seminar”.
    What I’ve never told her, is that I used to work with law enforcement, with the sex crimes devision. One of the things I used to do was give public presentations on prevention of child sex abuse. In the presentation I included How to spot a pedophile, it takes 5 minutes of training to be able to recognize what a pedophile looks like. First, open your family picture album, look at all the pictures of your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mom, dad, close family friends even Grandma and Grandpa. Look in a mirror. You are now fully and completely trained as to what a pedophile may look like. Statistics show that 97% of child sex abuse crimes are committed by a close relative or family friend. In every case that I helped to prosecute, the perpetrator of the crime was ALWAYS a relative or long time close family friend.
    It amazes me today how afraid kids are of being in public, or coming in contact with someone they don’t know. I once saw a 15yo boy freak out simply because I made eye contact and said Hello. The kid could not have been more than 10 lbs lighter than me, and at the time in my physical condition, could easily out run me. But he freaked because I said Hello.

  4. anonymousmagic December 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    The reasoning behind it may be sketchy, but I think she made the right choice. Male sitters are, in my opinion, better for boys because they enjoy the same things and thus connect better. You really don’t want to put a male babysitter through your daughter’s tea party. He’s better off playing football or soccer with your son.

  5. enyawface December 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    Michelle, not sure where you live, but in most places today, your son requires years of therapy for the trauma he endured, and the boy would be put on and offenders list and entered into “rehabilitation” that will never work. as we all know, those “young offenders” can never be rehabilitated….. The thinking that lead to me leaving working with the sex crimes unit and helping to put 5 year olds on the sex offenders registry.

  6. Jo December 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    When my older two were younger I had my troop of babysitters. What can I say my kids wear people out. :p One was a boy who was recommended by another babysitter of ours. Both my son and daughter loved him. My daughter because he played video games with my son so he left her alone.

    What is strange to me about this is how it carries to adulthood. My fiancée lives with us and the first comment from my ex was how can you let him live with the kids. Granted my ex will say or do anything to make me miserable, still why? He lives with the kids cause the kids live with me. To live with me he has to live with the kids. Simple, right?

    Then to make matters worse my youngest is a very tactile girl. Okay we are all a bit tactile. Her father is not, he is more, well we won’t go there. She jumps, climbs, hugs, tugs and plays with Troy all the time. She is so happy to have two parents that play with her now. Still I know if my ex found out that OMG! she loves him, holy carp! what a mess. Why? Because she loves him and treats him like a second dad. Isn’t that what the goal is with second marriages, happiness for the children?

    Oh and Magic, my daughter used to kick our male babysitters butt in soccer. She is quite a good keeper. :p I think that was one reason he always went for the video games.

  7. Jules December 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    I used to work with a woman who was pregnant at the same time I was with my third son. Naturally, for a few years, we would invite the boys to each other’s birthday parties. I remember taking my three boys to her son’s parties, and her BIL was there. He didn’t have any children of his own; he was a student majoring in early childhood ed.
    My kids LOVED this guy. He’d jump right in and start playing with the kids, helping them on the equipment, and organizing games. Coolest guy, and I not only trusted him around my kids, but also thouroughly enjoyed the opportunities my kids had to be around him. I remember telling my co-worker “C can come over and play with my kids any day.”

    I never got the “creepy” thing. Yes, some people are creepy. I’ve met a lot of creepy women, though. Male does not automaticly = creepy.

  8. John Rohan December 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Statistically, more men are sexual predators, but statistically, more black people commit violent crimes – so I wonder why it’s still socially acceptable to discriminate against men but not so against black people?

    When I was a little boy, I had one male babysitter. Only one. He was from a local high school and he only came one time. But boy, did we have fun that time! After that, I begged my mom to find another boy to babysit me, and she tried, but none were interested.

  9. HappyNat December 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    anonymouse,

    My nephew and myself are just as good as playing tea party as my wife a niece. I take offense that you doubt my mad tea party skills. Babysitters are by nature going to be doing activities that they wouldn’t normally do because they are hanging out with kids. They enjoy spending time with kids, the kids activities don’t matter. And by the way, my son enjoys tea parties more than my daughter, she would rather play dinosaurs and have them crash the tea party.

    Our daycare is small, a total of 5 teachers, and when we started one of them was a man. I really appreciated this compared to many of the other facilities we visited and heard about. One female teacher left and they hired man to be in my daughter’s class and after meeting him I couldn’t be more thrilled. He is bright, young, and passionate about working with kids. I think because our daycare is open to hiring men we can get the best of the best because so many other places wouldn’t give these great guys a chance. Their loss.

  10. Stuart December 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Lisa Belkin is sexist, it’s that simple. The most appalling part of her essay:

    “I also told him that I felt really awful about having to feel this way, and that it was such a shame that society forced us to discriminate against kind, competent men as caregivers for our kids.”

    The complete lack of responsibility for her own behaviour is utterly galling. This woman is so secure in her bigotry she doesn’t even see it. Atrocious.

  11. Lola December 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    My sister has six boys (just gave birth to her first daughter, yipee!). Even though she works from/at home, she obviously needs some help with the kids. When she was looking for someone, she talked with her husband about the possibility of hiring a man to take them outside, play with them and generally take care of them in a manly way. You know, having a male role model around while Daddy is at work.
    Not for one moment was the child molesting issue discussed. But my BIL was not in the least comfortable with having some guy around my sister the whole day long, while he was away!

  12. talesofacrazypsychmajor December 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    I feel so bad that the guy she didn’t hire may see the essay and realize that was why he didn’t get the job.

  13. talesofacrazypsychmajor December 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    When we were younger my brother would always feel annoyed that the neighbors would offer me a babysitting job, but never ever thought to ask him.

  14. Andrea December 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    I use a male babysittter for my son. He’s a friend of the family and yes, there are stereotypes of a ‘male’ babysitter. Kyle is the BEST babysitter – he’s responsible, tough, isn’t concerned about spending hours texting and talking on the phone, and the best, my son has FUN! It’s all outside play and ‘roughhousing’, riding bikes, playing Nerf ‘wars’, all imaginative play.

    I think in this day and age, molesters come in all shapes and sizes, AND sexes. My husband is a police officer, and while there are many more male molesters, there are still females. People have to get over their ideas and stereotpyes of what a childcare provider looks like!!!!

  15. Lisa December 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Thank you for another thoughtful discussion. I just responded in my own blog and hope you can check out the response.

  16. MorahLaura December 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    When my oldest daughter was in daycare, the center hired a male teacher for the 3-4 year old room. He was awesome! The kids adored him, and I’m kind of sorry to say that he had the ability to command their respect and act as an authority WAY better than many of the female teachers. I agree with HappyNat, that the fact that our center was willing to hire him increased my satisfaction with the center as a whole. I wish my kids’ current schools had more male teachers, but it seems like men who express an interest in teaching/working with kids are eliminated from consideration *because* of that interest. Ridiculous.

  17. Staceyjw December 2, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    I actually like Male baby sitters quite a bit, and have had the best luck with a few of our our (male) Mexican friends. Here in Mexico no one thinks “man = pervert”, and it would be very rude to act this way. Men are friendly with kids, even strangers kids, and no one thinks anything of it. It IS a little unusual to hire a male “nanny” full time, but this is only because paid, non-family child care is considered “womens work”. NOT because people are worried about pervs! I am only 12 miles from San Diego, but some days it seems like worlds apart.

    We even HAD the BEST live in “manny” for our 3.5 month old son- I would have kept him forever but he got seriously injured a week ago, super bummer!

    Anyway, we got him by accident. We had been trying to find a good live in nanny, but this acquaintance of ours was around a lot and turned out my son just LOVED him. This guy looks like someone you should avoid on a dark street- shaved head, tattoos, shades, and dressed a little gangster. To be fair, he HAD been in trouble when he was younger, like most people my age in the area, but nothing worrisome. (lots of deportees live around here)

    BUT, He has 3 kids and raised his 9 siblings, and was so patient and comforting to my DS who cries ALL the time (it seems) for everyone but this guy. My DH and I are total amateurs as parents, we know nothing and have zero experience, so having someone who was calm and confident was great. Plus, if DS cried, even at 4 am, he was right there to help. He could talk to my son for hours, and the screaming never bothered him. He also taught my DH how to change diapers, and other tricks, plus he kept the house clean, and translated everything for me (no spanish, yes, its pathetic).

    All of our male Mexican friends are good with the baby, and several help by holding him and talking to him in Spanish, while I work or rest.

    Am I worried about perverts? NO, I’m not. I know it can happen, that it is usually your friend/ family, and will often come as a surprise (pervs don’t wear labels). The chances of something truly disturbing doesn’t outweigh the positives of male role models and treating men like people, not suspects.

  18. Staceyjw December 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    And my DH is a SAHD too. I get way more attitude about this than my choice in babysitters! My brother and I had a male babysitter as kids, and another brother was an au pair for a family in Italy last summer.

  19. HBF December 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    My co-worker (a 30 something man) played soccer all through high school and college. He became a soccer coach for kids. He preferred coaching the girls teams because they were easier to coach, the parents were *slightly* less obnoxious about insisting their kid got more time on the field and he grew up with 3 younger sisters and was raised by a single mom. After a few years he quit because he got tired of the constant implication that he had sexual motives. (these were 3rd – 5th graders) It is a shame because there aren’t enough soccer coaches for the league. Most of the parents loved him but a few here and there made comments or insisted their daughters couldn’t be on his team. It’s so sad because single non-parents need to be involved in sports and other after school programs in our communities but they won’t because it is assumed they are molesters.

  20. sue December 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    When my son was young enough to need a babysitter, his favorites were always the local teenage boys. Male babysitters had more in common with him and were willing to do Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh duels. They would also talk about soccer and other sports with my son. Female babysitters weren’t interested in the same things as my son. Whenever I needed a babysitter, my son would always request a male.

    Most of the employees at the on-base teen center are men and the kids love them. My son likes them because they like to play soccer and also talk about it. There is a man who works part-time at the on-base school age center (grades K-5) who would be considered a “classic pedophile.” He’s an older man whose kids are grown and who happens to enjoy being around children. He and my son would play Stratego together when my son was at the school age center. That man was my son’s favorite person at the school age center. I can see why because he’s such a nice person who genuinely enjoys his work. The other man who worked there was a close second.

    Now my son has a couple of male teachers, who happen to be his favorites. His math teacher for the past two years is male, as is one of his Latin teachers. In fact, my son sometimes talks about wanting to become a math teacher like Herr S. My son is also in the local ski club and likes his male trainers best.

    In Germany, and on the military installation where I work, people don’t seem to think that males working around kids are creepy or pedophiles. I personally think it’s wonderful that my son has male role models in addition to my husband.

  21. Larry Harrison December 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    I am a man obviously. It is VERY highly offensive for someone to “assume the worst” based on a reality you had nothing to do with (your gender) and a reality that, per safety and appropriateness with kids, doesn’t mean a darn thing whatsoever.

    Prejudice & bigotry apply in many aspects not limited to white-on-black, or Nazi Germany on Jews. It applies, I think, when you rail about what you think ought to be done about “those maniacs” who text & drive, but you say nothing about someone who is distracted from tweaking their car’s stereo or climate control and hits someone while driving. Same thing when you dismiss someone because they have tattooes & piercings (something I can be guilty of, especially with women–I’m married anyway, but I tend to say–why do they want to graffiti-up their body and ruin it like that?) It applies when police pull over a red Ferrari for going 40 in a 35 but ignore a tan minivan going 60 in a 35, or when people express disdain at someone doing a fancy maneuver with their motorcycle (they’ll call them “crotch rockets” in disdain) but then they (the ones being critical) will do the same maneuver themselves in their car .

    And this, too, is bigotry and discrimination analogous to racism.

    LRH

  22. Clothdragon December 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    If it helps, Husband volunteers at the school for Little Girl’s class teaching Wednesday “Clubs” — their way of getting parents involved and broadening the children’s horizons. He is also the one to take them to the library or the park. (The children get injured more easily around me — or the tiniest bump becomes a howling end-of-the-world issue around me when they would just shake it off with him – haven’t figured out how to fix that yet) But so far I haven’t heard any complaints.

    But then, my most trusted baby-sitters have been men too. Bill watched the children for a week while Husband and I went to Chicago for the first time. ‘Uncle’ Allan is in our will to get the children if we die, so he takes them to get ice cream each Monday. (His counterpart is not so fond of children and has threatened me with bodily harm if Husband and I die before they’re teenagers and possibly after that too. Oddly, the fact that she doesn’t like ‘children’ and treats them like smaller adults makes her one of their favorite people — but she’ll never choose to be around them while ‘Uncle’ Allan treasures his time with them because they will never have children of their own.)

    Also, shaved head, tattooed, men, white, black or somewhere in the middle, have been unfailingly polite to my small family no matter where we go. It’s only the white well-dressed teenagers who don’t stop to hold the door for the stroller, who step carelessly in front of it, making me tilt the baby to avoid hitting them, or who make faces when Little Girl tries to talk to them. –And my family is white, if you started to wonder. This isn’t a sign of their racism, it’s a sign of their upbringing.

  23. Meagan December 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    I think the diaper rule is there to protect the male worker (and the day care) than the kids. It’s to prevent or deal with accusations.

  24. Tom December 3, 2010 at 12:01 am #

    The problem is more intractable than even this suggests. When my daughter was younger, I would try to hire babysitters so I could surprise my wife with a night out. More than once a sitter, in more cases a mom, to say “Why don’t you have your wife call. I’m not comfortable making the arrangements with a dad.”

    A colleague of mine, a single dad, has basically given up on trying to find neighborhood sitters for roughly the same reason.

    Men aren’t just a danger to small children, they all want to screw the babysitter, too.

    :-(

  25. Christina December 3, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    One question I’ve always wanted to ask of people who are against male sitters is this: If all males are potential predators, why is it that you’re ok with letting your kids watch “The Wiggles”, “Yo Gabba Gabba”, “Blue’s Clues” and the like? After all, those are all men. Hypocritical much? Giving your child(ren) wildly conflicting messages much? Sorry, cranky today. Need more coffee.

  26. King Krak, Oenomancer December 3, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    I’m so glad you’ve posted on the Motherlode post, Lenore. That really bothered me that the woman chose not to go with the man. I’m glad things didn’t work this way when I was in High School because I did a ton of babysitting then; I get the impression I wouldn’t get to do that now.

  27. Meagan December 3, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    @Stuart Lisa Belkin didn’t write the essay, she posted it. Also, don’t you think that attitude makes it more difficult for people to admit to their feelings of discomfort, an therefor discuss it? This kind of sexism is still relatively new, therefor it shouldn’t be as intrenched. If we let ourselves talk about it, maybe we can conquer it. Otherwise it gets shoved down into the darkness where it clings for generations.

    @talesofcrazy In the essay I sounds like she was pretty upfront about why he didn’t get the job, and that he had even brought it up before she did.

  28. bequirox December 3, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    There’s an old man who goes to my church who LOVES my 2 daughters. He had 5 girls, and he just thinks they’re so much better than boys. He’s constantly holding my girls and telling them they’re beautiful, and he loves them. He plays with them and teases them.

    There’s another old man there who looks like a younger Santa, and when either of my girls get upset, all it takes is a little snuggle with him to calm them down. They just lay on his chest and play with his beard.

    I would feel so awful to deprive any of them from this interaction. Men need love and attention from little kids, just like the rest of us.

  29. Timkenwest December 3, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    The “danger” of male babysitters had never ever occurred to me until I was talking Free-Range with my social-worker friend who said the one thing she won’t do is have a male sitter. She’s a big free-range fan but said that “it’s (molestation) a crime of opportunity” and thanks to her line of work (plus the fact that he husband is a cop), can’t make that leap of trust. Thus conversation has been on my mind ever since, so I’m glad to read the discussion here. I have in fact hired a neighbor male teen to babysit, but have to admit the topic is in the back of my mind. Come on, my free-range social worker friend won’t do it!

    I really really hate that this is a dilemma.

  30. Jenn December 3, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    This is timely- a friend of mine told me that she has a a “never alone with a male” policy for her daughters. The only exception is the child’s father. But it does include other family members, Grandfathers, Uncles and Cousins. Her children are not allowed sleepovers at their own grandparent’s homes, only because of this fear. She doesn’t use family as babysitters, even though they live in the area. She got this idea from someone who was a victim of sexual abuse and although she has no history of it herself, she thought this seemed like the “safest” plan. It’s heartbreaking to me.

  31. Liz December 3, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    I see that another Free Ranger has picked out the same sentence, about being “forced” to feel this way, that made me crazy.

    The idea that we are “forced” to feel any way, or forced to make any decision about how we raise our children (other than, I suppose, the force of law) is crazy, but also absolutely characteristic of the direction that modern parenting is heading. Mothers will nod sadly in agreement when you say that overprotected kids suffer, but then they will shrug sadly and ask, what else can you do? You HAVE to protect children from these imaginary danges. The nature of the modern world FORCES parents, against their will, to be hovering and obsessive.

  32. EricS December 3, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    @anonymousmagic: that’s a pretty sexist thing to say. I know plenty of male role models for young girls. I’ve babysat little girls, along with my nephew. Yes, I participated in the tea time, yes I’ve even put on the little hat, even my nephew participated. It’s NOT whether your a man or a woman, it’s who you are as a person that matters most. If in your mind, it’s all about the kids, there’s pretty much nothing you would do. Or at least try. Whether it’s tea party’s, dress up, or throwing the pigskin around at the park or in the backyard.

    But if you want to put a spin on the “sexist” thing, I would have to lean more towards male babysitters being better than female. Females tend to be more preoccupied about their personal lives, ie. talking on the phone, texting, FB. Males tend to be more focused on the task at hand, probably for the reason that they feel they have something to prove. What female babysitter do you know that can carry two 3 year olds, while a 4 year old sits on their shoulders. Yes, kids LOVE being carried around like that. Yes, they like to wrestle (at least the boys and girls I’ve taken care of), or rather gang up on you. At the same time, men are physically better equipped at protecting children. Most female babysitters I’ve met don’t have the energy to keep up with high energy kids. I think men have a slight edge on women when it comes to babysitting. 😉

  33. Mike December 3, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    This reminds me of the movie Home Alone. The old guy in the neighborhood was feared and shunned. But what did he say, when he finally met the boy? “Merry Christmas”.

  34. Globe trottin' mama December 3, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    I read that piece yesterday. My husband and I have talked about this before. I want to be non-discriminating, but I know that I would have made the same decision as the woman in that piece. I too have a daughter. Maybe I would have felt differently if I had a son or if my child were of an age to say if something bad were happening. What’s particularly troubling to me about my likely decision is that as a minority I know full well what it’s like for people to make assumptions about you based on stereotypes and perceived fears.

  35. Cheryl W December 3, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    When I was in college, I worked at a daycare. The kids LOVED it when the owners college age and teenage boys came in to work as teachers. Many of the kids came from single mom families and needed extra male support because they didn’t get it at home.

    When my daughter was little, I occasionally used a daycare that the dad also worked at (when he wasn’t teaching college.) HE was the one who showed me how to get rid of my daughter’s diaper rash by using a hair drier on cool air before I applied the cream.

    A good friend of mine was a stay at home dad for many years. The kids loved it when he came to the park because there were so few men that came with the preschoolers. The moms only (small) issue was when they needed to nurse, they couldn’t just “whip it out” and usually just turned their backs or used a blanket (if the kid allowed!) Otherwise, it was nice having a person who knew how to fix a bike, the rules to a game, or be willing to wrestle with the kids.

  36. EricS December 3, 2010 at 1:47 am #

    @Globe trottin’ mama: that’s the thing, it’s pretty much all in people’s heads these days. No thanks to the media. Just a matter of OVERCOMING your own fears, not fueling them.

  37. Rachel Y. December 3, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    “While, yes, statistically I’m sure men ARE more likely to molest kids than women are…”

    I don’t think you are sure of that, or you would state it less equivocally. You *think* that statistics would indicate that men are more likely to molest* children than women are–but you don’t know. I see this as one more symptomatic tentacle of the “men are dangerous to children” fearthinkingcloud that has built up over the years.

    *Molest how? Sexually? Physically? I seem to remember reading a report @ 10 years back that showed (statistically) kids were in more danger from their mother than any other adult–whether this was an issue of mothers being more violent, or having a greater amount of time around their children than anyone else the report did not speculate on.

  38. Melanna Heebner December 3, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    last year when my oldest was a toddler my husband and I participated in our church choir and orchestra. Babysitting was provided and the sitters that were hired were 2 male teenager brothers (14 and 16 years old). My husband dropped off our daughter the first couple of times. The first time I did it, I had the “what if” questions go through my head (even thought she had been there multiple times prior!). I had to bring myself back to earth and remember there was nothing wrong with these boys. I knew their Mom, even! Then I got mad at myself for even allowing myself to think in the worst-first mentality. And I’m glad I made myself drop off my daughter. She LOVED going and asked about them throughout the week that whole year. When we saw them at the grocery store one day she called out to them from across the store (Ha! I’m sure some people were a little surprised by that). She had made friends and I was able to put another notch in the ammo-against-unneeded-fear belt.

  39. SKL December 3, 2010 at 2:22 am #

    Well, here is where I am weak. I remember many things from my childhood and some of them are not pretty. There are many unreported cases of young people taking their sexual curiosity too far with children much younger than they are. And although girls have been known to do this, it’s usually boys/men, and that’s a fact.

    You don’t have to be a serial child rapist to get tempted by forbidden fruit.

    Now, I have two little girls around 4 years old. There are times when they need their caregiver to see/touch their privates, and there are other times when they do silly things because they are too innocent to know better. It’s not that I think all the neighborhood boys want to molest my daughters; it’s just that I don’t know what they’d do if they got up-close and personal with them. This is especially the case since very few (if any) of them likely have any experience with caring for little kids.

    So I’m sorry, but I am not going to be the change you wish to see on this one. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t hired any young female caregivers, either. When my kids are older and pretty self-sufficient and streetwise, I will revisit.

    I should note that I have no problem with my kids having a male caregiver in daycare, Sunday School, etc., assuming they’ve been held to the same screening standards that the women have, which is enough for me. There’s an assumption of some level of supervision and accountability in that case. My kids have a few male coaches and I am really glad about that.

  40. Steph December 3, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, my parents used two different teen boy babysitters and they were fantastic (for what it’s worth, I’m female and have a younger brother).

    Unlike the teen girl babysitters, these guys actually paid attention to us and weren’t on the phone the entire 3-4 hours talking to friends. They played board games, they played cards with us, a few years later one of the boys even saved our house from a kitchen fire (which broke out while my family was out of the house).

    Has anyone ever seen the videos taken by hidden cameras on Oprah, etc. of *female* babysitters/nannies hitting kids over the head with wooden spoons or shaking babies out of frustration? I don’t like to see either gender painted with a broad brush.

  41. June December 3, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    Here’s something that goes against the statistics – when I was around 5 or 6 and my brother was 3 or 4, we had a FEMALE babysitter who suggested a game – “how about you guys take your clothes off and wrestle?” Thank goodness I told her that sounded like a stupid game!

  42. CarlJ December 3, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Been lurking for a while, but this is a post that hit close to home. I am a male and I babysat some in my teen years. In high school I started working at a daycare and it was great and I was the only male that had ever worked there. In my last six months though, those over the daycare (not the director, but the church it was with) implemented new rules that were popular in church daycares meant to protect.

    To sum it up, it basically said that any male teachers could never be alone with a group of kids, which meant I always had to be supervised. I couldn’t take a child who wet his or her pants to change them. I couldn’t help a potty training child alone. I couldn’t even stay in the gym where parents were constantly coming and going to get their children without another female teacher to supervise me.

    The thought is that males are going to be pedophiles. Plain and simple it boils down to that. It made my job awful. I’m glad someone spoke up and got those rules revoked, but I was already leaving for college by that time.

  43. Joe December 3, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    This stereotype has a negative effect even when female babysitters are employed.

    As a man, I am afraid of them. All one of them has to say is that I touched them or made a lewd comment and my life is over. Flat out over. I never take them home or pick them up. I am never alone with them, even for a minute. Thankfully the we use the girls from a family with 4 daughters that we know very well. Otherwise, I am sure I would not even know the young ladies I leave my kids with.

  44. View Points December 3, 2010 at 2:57 am #

    Interesting comments after that Motherlode NYT article: ( http://bit.ly/fUeL0E )

    One father raising a young daughter said,

    ” I’m afraid that soon I’ll have to provide proof that she is my actual daughter, or I won’t be able to take her around in public!”

    His comment tells us how irrational our society has become.

    Commenter #12 began a very poignant experience like this:

    “I once watched a mom go absolutely ballistic at the park because a man was standing too close to the swings full of toddlers…” Go read the rest of her story.

    And…

    How would a woman feel or react if she went for a job interview and the interviewer said:

    “Jane, your qualifications for this job are a perfect fit. I don’t think I could find a more qualified applicant. But I’m probably not going to hire you because you’re a woman. I feel sheepish saying this, but we all know that stats show women frequently quit their jobs to have kids, or move to another city when her husband gets a different job.”

  45. annamcbean December 3, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    When I was a teenager, I helped teach Sunday School to 2 and 3 year old children. One day a classmate who sporadically attended the same church attempted to come into the classroom while the main teacher was away and I was minding the kids myself. I knew him from school but I didn’t know him THAT well and something about him (and his timing) just made me horribly uncomfortable. I stood my ground despite his repeatedly asking to help me out and finally the teacher returned and he rushed off without a word. The teacher thanked me, not only because I had kept a non-teacher/parent out of the classroom full of small children, but because this very same teenage boy had been caught a few months earlier molesting a small girl just a couple rooms down (he wasn’t behind bars because he was a minor). He was eventually caught on at least one other repeat offense.
    That stayed with me for a long time, but it didn’t scare me off from strangers or male babysitters. On the contrary, I’ve only actually hired one babysitter outside of my family and he is a teenage boy. His mother, a friend of mine, had just mentioned his availability in passing and how I probably wouldn’t want a boy watching my kids by himself, and I just shrugged and said I was actually just fine with it, had no reservations, and that he could watch my kids if he felt up to it. He did a fantastic job and I’ll be hiring him again!
    I think if there’s anything I could learn from my past experiences it’s that you have to trust your gut and your brain, and make realistic decisions that aren’t based on gross generalizations. I KNEW something was “off” with that first kid, my classmate, and I responded not because he was a male but because there was something screaming “danger! danger!” in my head. With the second kid? Everything seemed right and everything worked out great and I’m glad we chose him.

  46. BKC December 3, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    @Joe Agreed! My regular babysitter’s mother recently called me after a night out and let me know that she wasn’t comfortable having my husband drive her daughter home. I asked if there had been an incident in the car, or if her daughter had said anything and she said, “No, you just can’t be too careful.” I told her that he had driven me home because I had been drinking, and that the alternative was to come pick her daughter up at midnight. Oh, and that I was appalled that she would disrespect my family that way. We lost a great babysitter. It’s a shame.

    And growing up, we had a male babysitter one summer. He taught my brother and I to throw a football, hit a baseball and how to cook a fantastic roast. Matthew, I thank you!

  47. Cheryl W December 3, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    Oh, and now do we need to get the dad to stay home and put the kids to bed because the dad might be charged with sexual harassment on the ride home? To mix my shows here “The Simpson’s did it!” (Homer was reaching for candy stuck to the sitters rear as she got out of the car. She misinterpreted him.)

    I guess to be safe, once you have kids you better take them with you (into the bars – not uncommon not so long ago in Montana) or stay home.

  48. Su December 3, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    This story strikes close to home for me, too; both my brother and my husband LOVE children, they have both been occasional babysitters for friends’ children since they were teenagers, and they are both loved and appreciated by children in return.

    I spend more time than necessary worrying that misguided people will assume that my husband or my brother are perverts, just because they spend time with church kids or say hello to the neighbourhood kids. It frustrates me that this is what our society has come to.

    I know plenty of mature, responsible teen boys who I would would be happy to have as babysitters for my kids. They would be a lot more fun for the kids than I am, that’s certain! :)

  49. oncefallendotcom December 3, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted and rather controversial child victim advocate, stated we should NEVER hire male babysitters:

    “It’s not a witch hunt,” he says. “It’s all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who’s more likely to molest a child? A male.”

    That means you cannot trust your kiddies around Mr. Walsh because he’s a potential perv.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118782905698506010.html

  50. Jenn December 3, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    We’ve had 2 male babysitters – both of our kids love them. They were exactly what we were looking for – we vetted them and check them out well in advanced. Our autistic son really connected with them and draws out of his world with them We also have fantastic female sitters. Once vetted we see who is best for our kids – gender, ethnicity and religion aside.

  51. Jenn December 3, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    Oh, forgot to mention our youngest is a girl

  52. Deb December 3, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    My daughter went to Mr. Mom’s Playhouse from 12 weeks old to 4 years old. Mr. Mom has run an in-home daycare for 15+ years. (His wife is a 3rd shift nurse.) My daughter (now 11 1/2 y.o. and who turned out nicely, thank you) learned amazing things from this man – like that men can take care of babies, do the dishes, cook and still teach “manly” things like fishing and football, too. Inside, I thank him daily for many things.

  53. Matt L. December 3, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    From a dad’s point of view, I think the uncomfortablness from a father might be similar to the feeling some working moms experience that they are missing out. Like saying “I don’t want to really think about my kids hanging out with some dude all day” really means “it should be me.” That’s what makes me uncomfortable with it. Yeay working parent guilt…

  54. socialjerk December 3, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    Really, anonymousmagic? Really? Must we dictate what a three year old is going to enjoy based on their gender? Maybe it would be nice for a little girl who has been told she is supposed to play Barbies and tea party to experience something different. Running around and playing sports is good for everyone, as is playing imaginatively. Gender really should have nothing to do with it. Perhaps a sitter could be chosen based on their rapport and similar interests to an individual child, rather than whether they are male or female.

    My parents had no interest in gender roles and treated us all very equally. My brother and I both loved basketball, and while I hated Barbies, he was a big fan.

  55. RobC December 3, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    I’ve worked in childcare. I’ve worked as a babysitter. I’ve worked at a high school. And frankly, I find any insinuations or accusations that I can’t be trusted around children simply because I’m a man to be offensive and insulting.

    When I worked in childcare, the kids loved me, and the parents were either indifferent or openly grateful to be seeing a man working with kids. If any parents did have a problem with me being there, I never heard about it. I even changed nappies and everything!

    In conclusion, I’d just like to say that the woman who wrote that essay openly admitting to discriminating on the basis of gender can kiss my butt. And John Walsh can kiss it twice.

  56. kcs December 3, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    I have a 13 year old son who wants to take the Red Cross babysitting class so he can do some babysitting to earn some money.. He likes little kids and is a pretty level-headed boy.

    BUT I’m flat out terrified that if he actually does babysit, something he might do or say will be misinterpreted and he’ll be accused of something. I’m encouraging him to forage for recylcables as an alternative cash-raising venture.

  57. Jen Connelly December 3, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    As a kid I never had sitters…male or female. I don’t remember my parents ever going out without us unless we were already staying with family (as in we were visiting with family in another state so they watched us while my parents went out). Anyone who might have watched us were family or very close friends and I’m sure some of them were men. In fact I remember one time spending a whole week with my aunt and her family while my parents went out of town and my aunt had to do something at her church so her teenage son watched me and my brother…alone in the house. Obviously no one thought anything of it since he was my cousin.
    Likewise, because of money and the number of kids we have (5 between 10 and 4 months) we have never hired a baby sitter. The only people that have ever watched our kids have been family or friends and, yes, some of them were guys. I never thought twice about it and would hire a teen guy to watch my kids if he was recommended or the kids really liked him.
    My kids are old enough to stay home now for the most part and to wander the neighborhood. There’s this guy across the street (or used to be, they just moved out today…so sad to see them go) who used to race motorcycles and is always working in his garage. The first week we were here my son and middle daughter (then 8 and 7) went right over and introduced themselves. Every day for a week they’d stop by to chat with him and not once did I think anything about it other than…”you better not be bothering that man.” He never seemed to mind, though. Turned out he had 2 small kids (including an autistic son who was about 8) and an older son although I never saw them around much. And he never turned my kids away, he always chatted with them and answered all their questions.
    The day before Thanksgiving his wife showed up at our door to tell us they were moving this week and asked us if we wanted their things. They didn’t have room to bring it all. I am so grateful for these people in our lives. We now have furniture in our house and a washer and dryer (something we could have never afforded on our own). I wish we had gotten to know them better.
    And a note on male teachers…one of my favorite teachers as a kid was a guy. Mr. Jones taught us science in 7th grade and was just the coolest. Then I had Mr. Fisher for math in 8th and he was just the biggest tool ever (just a real jerk and shouldn’t have been teaching young kids). I’ve also had horrible female teachers and some great ones.
    I’m happy to say the school my kids go to have a handful of guy teachers including 3 our of 4 of the 5th grade teachers. So my 5th grade daughter has one. He calls her “Jumbo” because she is so tiny. Cracks me up every time. He’s great and always teasing and joking with the kids. She loves him. There’s also a 3rd grade guy teacher but my son didn’t get him (he was kind of bummed about that) and I think their gym teacher is a guy and the music teacher (who is actually a Dr. which they think is neat).
    At their old school they had guys for computers, gym and music. There was also a custodian that was a guy who was kind of a jack of all trades at the school and sometimes babysat a classroom when the teacher had to leave the room and there was no one else to watch the kids. He did everything at that school and when he passed away last year the school was devastated. I don’t think they ever found someone to replace him. He often helped out with the preschool kids (3-4 year olds) along with their teacher and her assistant. The kids LOVED him.

  58. Diane December 3, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    EricS,

    Now, who’s being sexist? Gender doesn’t dictate a fun babysitter from a mediocre to bad babysitter. It matters whether a person enjoys spending time with children. I have spent nearly 30 years working with children in some capacity from being a teenage babysitter, to a preschool teacher, and finally a nanny. I have played with Barbies, had tea parties, built forts, had my knuckles smashed by overly enthusiastic preschoolers wielding action figures, and been shot numerous times by three year olds with toy machine guns and the children and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Being a female doesn’t make a child care provider boring; being a boring person makes for a boring child care provider.

  59. Matt L. December 3, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Diane – I believe the wink at the end signified that was the anti-rant against the “all men are pedophiles” rant.

  60. Anna December 3, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    I was part of a discussion on male babysitters recently, and I was surprised and saddened that the vast majority of moms said they would not trust a man or boy to babysit their children. One woman even said that other than her husband, she doesn’t allow any male family members to be alone with her young daughters, not even her own father! (She said there was no history of abuse and no reason to believe anything bad would happen, she just didn’t want to “risk it.” Poor grandpa.)

    Personally, I don’t understand how society can treat men and boys with this kind of suspicion and hostility, accusing them of being creeps or pedos for simply enjoying the company of children, then expect them to do an about face and be attentive, doting family men with their own children. It makes no sense.

  61. Stuart December 3, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/men-as-babysitters-whats-so-scary/#comment-49611

    I made a mistake when I attributed remarks made by Nicole Sprinkle to Lisa Belkin, and called Ms. Belkin sexist as a result. For that I apologise. Ms. Sprinkle is clearly the sexist one.

    I can hardly fault people for taking zero responsibility for their own actions if I were to do the same.

  62. Cheryl W December 3, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    One of my friends was telling me about her mother’s next door neighbor. Apparently, while he was trying to help her get her car started he started talking to her about how men should be allowed to have sex with boys, and how it wasn’t illegal in Mexico and he might move there. She didn’t know what to say other than ummmm.

    I wouldn’t let him babysit my kids.

    She was worried he might come over and kidnap her 10 year old son. I told her not to worry too much. That boy is high functioning autistic and if he doesn’t want to do something – he is NOT going to do it and will let everyone in the neighborhood know! (She is another one worried about getting reported to CPS when he has meltdowns in public places.) She did talk with him about appropriate touch and all of that – without freaking him out about the neighbor. The next time they went up he had moved. I feel sorry for the boys in Mexico.

  63. Stevie December 3, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    There’s a simple solution to the gender bias presented here. You do not have to choose female sitters over male sitters in order to protect your child from molestation.

    Even as a free range parent, I occasionally go over the basic rules with my children about how no one should be touching them in the private areas covered by their swimsuit and if anyone’s touching makes them feel uncomfortable they should always just come to me so we can talk about it. We really don’t make a big deal out of it.

    It is unfortunate we have to tell kids anything about inappropriate touching. But I treat the info the same way as stop, drop, and roll if you’re on fire or stay low to ground if you’re stuck outside during a lightning storm. It’s unlikely to happen but we should know what to do if it does. Enough said. So I don’t worry if their babysitters/teachers/coaches/play date parents are male, female, black, white, young, or old.

    It’s an easy solution and it covers them where they are and whoever they’re with.

  64. Stuart December 3, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    @Meagan – No, that kind of sexism is the good old fashioned kind, just with the genders flipped. Discrimination is like ice-cream flavours – each is unique in its own special way, but it’s all still ice-cream and should be easily recognisable as such. Go back to her article and replace the word ‘man’ with the word ‘jew’ or ‘black’ if you are having difficulty seeing the discriminatory language.

    Sprinkle wasn’t admitting her biases so much as evangelising them – and I have a problem with that. She presents her attitude entirely normal and justified, and she doesn’t take one shred of responsibility for her own choices. She feels bad about it? Well woopty-do.

    Why am I supposed to be ok with that kind of speech? It’s offensive and it’s wrong – would you be ok with your entire gender being blanket labelled as molesters? Sorry, but I expect her to stand on the merits of her assertions (and to do so today), not just let her libel my entire gender whilst she works out her issues (assuming she ever will).

    Sprinkle needs to be rapped over the knuckles for her conduct – she’s writing for the NY Times for goodness sake, I expect better. As for Belkin, if she were a man, allowing a male guest writer to spew sexist remarks about women, you can bet she’d be out of a job quick smart.

  65. enyawface December 3, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Somehow, I think, if the Femi-Nazi culture had it’s way. In the name of “societal safety”. select males would be raised in cages until they were able to produce a sperm collection, and then disposed of. In their thinking, the world would be much much safer that way.

  66. Jen December 3, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I am absolutely a free-ranger, yet I would not hire a male babysitter for my daughters.

    I used to work as a daily caregiver/counselor at a residential treatment center for sex offenders ages 12-17. These boys were all molesters, not violent rapists or anything, and they all “groomed” their victims the way we know child molesters do. I completely believe that 99% of males are good and would NEVER hurt my children, but in this case, because of my personal experience, I would just err on the side of caution.

    And to add, I have no problems with my girls having lots of contact with males, such as teachers, other kids’ dads, etc. But if it’s a male that is going to have regular contact with them and COULD have the time and opportunity to groom, then I’m not going to go that route.

  67. Cheryl W December 3, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Jen, you better not get a sitter at all. I was friends with a woman who molested a boy. She did groom this boy. She is currently in jail and her two boys are with their dad. And, oh, lets see, this was 15 years ago or so. Why did she do it? I have no clue, it was not something that I ever would have suspected that she would do. Did she she have some issues in her life – yes, she did. She was in a bi-racial relationship at a time and place when that excluded one from both communities. She had some issues with alcohol. Do those excuse her? No.

    Women can molest boys (and girls) – I suspect that it is just not reported as much as when the perp is male.

  68. Laura December 3, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    OK I guess I didn’t get the memo that all men were pedophiles. My kids visit the neighbors on a regular basis (some of whom are adult males), I use both male and female babysitters, and we have had male teachers in kindergarten, 1st and 3rd grade. I think my kids are fortunate to be able to interact with many different kinds of people and be free from the fear that everyone is out to get them. We actually do have someone on the sex offender registry in our neighborhood, but the kids know where he lives and to avoid that general area (even though I don’t think he poses a real threat). Life is so much more interesting when we see people as potential friends rather than probable enemies.

  69. Jen December 3, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    @Cheryl we all know that males are far more likely to molest than females. And besides, now that my oldest is almost 11, I don’t need to worry about it anymore.

  70. bmj2k December 3, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    All in the name of children, we as a society not only condone, but actively promote:
    -sexism
    -discrimination
    -distrust
    -fear
    -paranoia
    -isolation

    What are we really teaching the next generation? We are raising the next generation to be weaker and more fearful than the one before. We are not teaching them to rise, we are taeaching them to fail, to fall back, to hide, to cower.

    Children will rise to the level to which they are exposed. We are exposing them to the lowest, most base parts of the human experience. No one has ever strived to create, to invent, to become greater than they are, while hiding from the truth. How can out kids see the sun when they live in dark cellers of ignorance?

  71. skiermom December 3, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    I was shocked when I first came across this prejudice a few years ago on a parenting board. It actually took my quite a while to even realize what the post was about: a mom was concerned about male teachers at her child’s preschool and the potential for diaper changing. I wondered at first if she thought men would not be competent to change a diaper, then I figured out what her concerns really were. I found that offensive. How horrible to be distrusted in that way for no reason, simply because of your gender! It seems just as bad as stereotyping people based on their skin color or their religion.

    By the way, we have also used a teenage boy for a babysitter. I had no concerns about doing that either – because it never occurred to me that a normal boy whose family I knew would be interested in more than a fairly enjoyable way to earn a little cash. I enjoyed babysitting when I was a teenager. I see nothing odd in a person of either gender wanting to work with young children.

  72. Christina December 3, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    @Jen – I was molested by a male babysitter when I was 7. Shockingly, it did not scar me for life. Children are FAR more resilient than they are given credit for. I knew, even then, that this was not a male thing but a THIS male thing. I have no intention of discriminating against the male role models in my sons’ lives because of an isolated incident in my own. Will I be vigilant? Of course! Will I assume the worst about the various males in my/my children’s lives? Absolutely not.

  73. Jen December 3, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    @Christina these boys were ALL molested themselves, so they obviously were scarred. And I will never forget the day that I heard, in detail, the molestation by one of the boys of 2 young girls who were the same ages as MY daughters at the time. I can never get that imagery out of my head.

    I do not assume the worst about males in my daughters’ lives, but in this regard, my experience has colored my parenting. I am not perfect.

  74. Christina December 3, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    @ Jen – No one is asking you to be perfect. But we must all question our own prejudices from time to time, or we are not serving our children well and may, inadvertently pass along those same prejudices. Your choices are your own, and I’m not going to judge. Given your experience, I understand your choices. For me, I choose to defy my own experience and use the sitters I think are best suited to my children, regardless of gender.

  75. Jen December 3, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Well, like I said, it isn’t an issue anymore.

    But to add to that, they also attended an in-home daycare (a woman) that mistreated them. My youngest is still scared of the dark because this woman locked her in a closet when she felt like she was misbehaving (at age 3). So I really don’t like babysitters of any gender!

  76. Cheryl W December 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Jen,

    I try to beware of blanket statements for which the facts may be shaky due to cultural norms. More and more women are getting charged these days, and I still suspect that abuse by women is underreported or misreported. Mrs. Robinson not withstanding.

    Kind of like the story I heard on NPR tonight about hate crimes, and how some large cities report none because that is easier. Or how colleges say that they have no sexual assaults because they blame the victims or turn the matter over to town police so that the college doesn’t have to include it in the stats that might turn away a parent or student.

    The best thing is to probably know the person and get reliable references from other people. Not to use gender as the sole deciding factor. This gender discrimination is as bad as racism. Unless you are black/Muslim/Hispanic or other minority man, and then it is even worse. I have seen too many young people held down and held back because of their race, and now the gender too? I hate it.

  77. marion December 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    I’ve had male babysitters for my kids. They were much better than many of the girls I’ve hired.

    A librarian I know was doing a story hour that discussed safety, and told children, when lost, to go up to a woman with children for help. A father, who was sitting there with his sons, said “or a man with children” and the librarian said “NO!” and went on about how men are more likely to be child molesters than women. She said this in front of the other parents as well as the children, most who were 7 and under. It was incredibly insulting, demeaning, and bigoted, and the poor man was visibly deflated. She basically accused him of being a child molester.

    The bigotry against men is so bad, it’s a wonder fatherhood hasn’t become illegal.

  78. Sally December 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    It’s difficult because we live in a culture where rape is not only considered funny and a part of life, but also the woman’s fault. One in four women are sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetimes. So we’re constantly being taught that you have to be careful of men, that men will hurt you, that if you are not incredibly vigilant then it will be your fault that they do this to you, and if they do it then it wasn’t their fault, they just couldn’t control themselves/you led them on/you were pretty so you were asking for it/why were you out alone after the sun went down anyhow?

    This is horrible but it also allows rapists to get away with this, which is why people make rape jokes and continue “rape culture” where it’s considered not only normal, but not a big deal, because really it doesn’t happen, it’s just a whiny woman who had second thoughts.

    The number of people who would harm a CHILD in this way is a miniscule percentage in comparison. But making that mental leap — from one in four men is a rapist who will hurt ME, to one in four men will not hurt my CHILD — is incredibly difficult for people. It’s so ingrained to expect to be harassed on a daily basis (and to just suck it up and ignore it because gosh they’re COMPLIMENTING you, dontchaknow) it’s very difficult to not let that correlate with the same thing happening to my daughter, even though the same assholes who do it to me wouldn’t ever dream of hurting her.

    Until she grows breasts, and then they’ll be happy to.

  79. Arthur December 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Ironic, isn’t it? A man who doesn’t know how to change a diaper is considered a pig and a jerk, at the same time we go OMG you can’t trust men with children!!!

    It’s silly prejudice left over from the days when childcare was ghettoized and marginalized as mere “women’s work”. I do think we’re slowly maturing past that. “Mannies” are increasingly common, and more men are willing to consider working with children.

    Years ago when my oldest kids were small our planned babysitter called – she had the flu, but didn’t want to leave us stranded. Her older brother was home from work early and was willing to take her place. We said fine and he was brilliant – the oldest of seven kids, he was perfectly experienced in dealing with small children and my kids adored him. Now this last year he and his wife have moved back into our neighborhood and my son babysits his son.

    I have a son and a daughter old enough to babysit,. Both have the necessary skills and are called upon from time to time, but the son is much better at dealing with small children. Much more patient.

    We take for granted that the girls know how to handle babies and that the boys are clueless. To the extent that is accurate the fault lies with us for expecting too little of the boys. Do we teach our sons as they grow up? Do we even consider asking the boys to babysit? True some will decline, but others are happy for a chance to earn a little extra cash.

    Now certainly I wouldn’t leave children with just anybody, but that’s not a function of gender. As for schools and day cares, it’s pretty universal that candidates regardless of gender have to go through background checks. There are limits to what can be done realistically. We do the best we can then we choose to not live in fear and treat everyone as a potential abuser without just cause.

  80. Jeannette December 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    I wonder why worst-first moms (and dads) haven’t totally abandoned the Catholic Church yet?

  81. RobC December 3, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Jen – “we all know that males are far more likely to molest than females. And besides, now that my oldest is almost 11, I don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

    Of course. Because no child over the age of eleven has ever been sexually abused.

  82. NJMom December 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    This is a great post, Lenore. I grew up having summer babysitters and my absolute favorite was a male teenager–his summer between highschool and college. We spent all day for two months with him. He was simply so…much….fun.

    There definitely is an irrational prejudice against men being with children. It’s unbelievably sad, it is irrational, and it’s essentially dangerous for society as a whole. Case in point: Last August I was at the pool with a summer friend. We were chatting and watching our children –her two girls and boy and my son and daughter. Somehow the topic of “having time for our adult selves” came up. Then we talked about babysitters–the lack there of, actually. I mentioned how it seemed that girls didn’t babysit so much these days but that a few 8th/9th grade neighborhood boys were a little less busy and so more available. Then she said, rather sheepishly, that her husband declared that her kids would never, ever have a boy babysitter.

    And, of course, I thought…what about my son? And what about her son? If teen boys can’t babysit his children, and his son won’t be able to babysit children (as other parents should naturally feel the same way he does) then what’s next? Fathers can’t care for their children? Ludicrous, irrational and sad.

  83. Tom December 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    @Sally, there’s a huge slander in your post that needs correcting.

    One in four men are not rapists. That’s so far from true it’s disturbing.

    The Justice Department statistics suggest one in six women experiences sexual assault in her lifetime. That does not suggest that one in six men committed the assault, since it assumes that every perpetrator assaults only one other person. That’s an absurd assumption.

    tc>

  84. Kimberly December 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    My *fear* about male babysitters has almost nothing to do with “creeping prejudice”, but I choose female babysitters over males regularly. I have six-year-old twin boys and I also teach high school. I tend to pull babysitters from my rather large population of students. The problem is that my boys are really BOYS, with a tremendous amount of physical energy that tend towards rough-housing. They need to be reminded to be safe, although I do let them range free. The teenage boys need the same reminding. On the rare occasion that I have had young males look after my boys, there has been a higher incident of injuries. (This happens with my husband, as well, but at least he has a fully developed frontal cortex that keeps him somewhat in check.) Ironically, my children don’t injure themselves when they are (a) walking the 1/2 mile home from the school bus by themselves, (b) building and lighting a fire in *their* wood stove in our house, or (c) exploring the outdoors on their own with me in the house. When they are in charge of themselves, they are fairly responsible (for six year olds). However, when they have a babysitter in charge, they abdicate some of their awareness of safety. I have found that females (in general) have a higher concern for physical safety and a much lower tolerance rate of the rough-housing. Thus, I feel much more at ease putting my boys in the charge of a teenage girl than a teenage boy.

  85. Robin December 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    enyawface – Agreed about the Femi-Nazi’s and I’m a woman! Men need to get some backbone and start standing up for themselves before they’re relegated to the backyard forever.

    It’s really hard to remove yourself from your own experiences. Most of you would agree that wearing your seatbelt is good. But my BIL will argue with you that it’s more dangerous. Why? He was a fireman and only saw fatal accidents where the victims were trapped because they couldn’t get their seatbelts off in time. You can argue with him about how miniscule the likelihood of this is, but it makes no difference to him. So, if you had a personal experience with a bad male sitter, no matter what statistics we give you, you won’t change your mind. But please, try to be aware that that was YOUR experience, not everybodies.

    There are so many kids that could use a male role model in their lives but will never get it because of the “males are bad” attitude. Very sad.

  86. pentamom December 3, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    Jen – “we all know that males are far more likely to “molest than females. And besides, now that my oldest is almost 11, I don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

    Of course. Because no child over the age of eleven has ever been sexually abused.”

    I think she means she won’t need babysitters anymore.

  87. Lola December 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    @Robin, @enyawface: Agree 100% about Femi-Nazis (never heard the term before- love it!).
    Re. seatbelts: I’m also convinced of the dangerous possibility of getting trapped in a car if I ever have an accident. So I don’t lock the doors while travelling, and also I keep a small knife at hand (in the glove compartment), to cut the seatbelts in case they get locked.
    I learned a little while ago that firemen and emergency workers actually encourage these precautions. And they absolutely encourage the use of seatbelts (mandatory here in Spain), because they’re fed up with trying to find people who flew several feet through the windshield when they crashed. It wastes precious time and causes serious unnecessary injuries.

  88. Jen December 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    @RobC no I mean that my kids don’t need babysitters anymore.

  89. Cheryl W December 4, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    Part of our problem as a society, (from reading these posts) is that we do not know how to interpret numbers into meaningful information.

    People hear about study and do not look to see the size or population of the study. They don’t look at who is doing the study, or who is funding it and how it may be biased. The biggest problem is that they take what they hear in the world and convert it into a herd type of “truth” that has no factual basis. (And is actually what this Free Range movement is trying to combat.)

    For instance, one person above took the statistic that one in four women is raped in her lifetime and misinterpreted it to mean that one in four men is a rapist. The first stat does NOT mean the second.

  90. SKL December 4, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    I think people need to acknowledge that there’s a big difference between kids hanging out with a male and being babysat by male. If a neighbor guy is trying to fondle or say strange things to my daughter, most likely, she can leave his house and run home. If a male coach or teacher is doing something, chances are, there are enough people around that she can do something to make the teacher/coach back off out of fear of being noticed. But if I leave a guy in charge of my kids alone in the house, and something happens, they are pretty much defenseless. Everything I may have told them about yelling, running to another parent, etc., becomes meaningless. They are a small fraction of the size and strength of a man. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving them in that situation. I am sorry if it means some boys have to find some other way to earn pocket money and get their innocent kid fixes in other ways. (No offense meant by “kid fix” – I used to say I got my “kid fix” every time I visited with my nieces/nephews before I had kids. I just love kids!)

    Like I said before, I haven’t hired young women / teen girls to be with my kids so far, either. Why? I haven’t met one (in the past 3 years) who acted like they could think 3 inches past their nose. Granted, I haven’t spent a lot of time looking, but that’s where I’m at.

    It’s nice to talk about an ideal world where there is no discrimination whatsoever. But is that really wise? At some point, it is best to acknowledge an actual, non-arbitrary gender difference. And for those who want to be activist about gender disrimination (or anything else), I ask you to think twice before you use your kids as pawns in your activism. And as some above have said, please follow your gut if it goes against your political platform. Personally I feel that while molestation is not “the end of the world,” it is certainly not something to take lightly.

  91. RobC December 4, 2010 at 1:46 am #

    “@RobC no I mean that my kids don’t need babysitters anymore.”

    Okay, that makes sense. Sorry.

  92. North of 49 December 4, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    my husband has been harassed by Mall Security when dealing with (preverbal) 2-3 year old (he had a hearing impairment at the time) who was having a major melt down.
    Even as the father of the child, he was seen as a “kidnapper” and “child abuser” and worse. One of the times, he was nearly detained by security but only because our son correctly identified “daddy” was he allowed to go. He sought me out and refused to leave my side for the rest of that trip.
    I’ve watched security follow him out the door while he was carrying the tantrum throwing child, and followed behind yelling at the stupid jerk to leave my husband alone because the mother (me!) was right there.
    My husband loves caring for kids, but he refuses to care for anyone else but ours because of the prejudices out there. He doesn’t want to be thrown in jail for simply watching a kid because someone freaks that a man is watching a child.
    Society hasn’t just become corrupt. Society is scared of life.

  93. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    SKL – No amount of rationalizing can take away the fact that you are a bigot.

    From Miriam Webster “: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance ”

    I will take my kid to the park and give a loud, solid F-U to anyone who takes issue with a guy and kids spending time together. We just spent decades hearing about the deterioration of society because of the lack of male involvement in kids’ lives. Now you’re saying if we hang out with kids we’re pervs. You set a terrible example to anyone who comes within you sphere of influence and should be ashamed of yourself.

  94. SKL December 4, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Matt L, I never said men shouldn’t hang out with kids. My point was that I have no problem with kids “hanging out” with a male, but that’s different from locking my little girls up alone with a male whom I don’t know well (i.e., babysitting in my home). I guess I could have been more clear on that point.

    However, to turn anything I said into “hatred and intolerance” toward all men is, I’m sorry, idiotic. And I haven’t called anyone a perv. Get a grip. You seem to be looking for a fight.

  95. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    SKL – I am not comfortable leaving my kid alone with anyone I do not know well. Babysitters must come with references or be good friends of family who I have interacted with. I wouldn’t equate hiring a babysitter to locking my kid up with anyone either.

    Making a blanket statement that a person of a certain sex is unqualified to do something because of their sex is the very definition of bigotry. Nothing you have said indicates hatred toward men; the definition does not say that to be a bigot one must purely hate. Perhaps I should have truncated it to: “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own prejudices.” You are intolerant of a man being unsupervised with a child because he is a male.

    Your main point, as I understand it, is that men are generally good. They can interact with children in a controlled environment and with supervision things will be ok. You assume that men need supervision lest they release their inner beast and do something untoward to a child – or in your words be “tempted by forbidden fruit”. How does that not label men pervs? Sure, you didn’t say all men would do something wrong but your assumption that some are predisposed it so none can be trusted ever is disturbing.

    I didn’t come here looking for a fight; nor did I expect that you would say something so beyond the pale it was offensive.

  96. Larry Harrison December 4, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    Matt L and SKL, if I may contribute.

    I can tell you this much. I am a male. I am different than a woman, that’s for sure. The genders are different and are MEANT to be, I think.

    But I’d like to know of one good reason why my being a guy means it’s okay to pre-judge me–that’s where the word prejudice comes from–based on this, in regards to my fitness to watch someone’s children. That is offensive I don’t give a damn what your experiences or observations of the past are. It takes a man to make a child as much as it takes a woman to have it, and heaven knows any man who doesn’t do his part is called a deadbeat.

    In short–where it regards children, men are relevant, beneficial, and even necessary.

    I watch my own 2 children, 3½ year-old girl and 1½ year-old boy, all day everyday while my wife works. Talk about breaking a stereotype! I can tell you this–when I bathe them both in the morning, and I see them as they were born, I just see 2 children. Period. When I take them to the lake and they’re in their bathing suits, I just see 2 kids, and the same goes for anyone else’s kids whom I see there as well. Sexuality-wise, they do NOTHING for me whatsoever. The other children there–same thing.

    On the other hand, although I’m married and don’t seek to cheat (and never have), when I see a good-looking woman at the lake or pool in a bikini–it’s all I can do to not stare until my eyeballs pop out of their sockets.

    But the kids? They don’t do a thing for me that way, and never have.

    If someone were to say “well I don’t know that about you,” well I don’t care what you don’t know about me. That’s not my problem. It’s not my place, or any other man’s place, to prove that I’m not a pervert and to accept a “guilty until proven innocent” disposition–and yes, that also applies if I watch your children also. If you don’t trust me anymore than that, we have no relationship at all whatsoever–personally or professionally.

    I was born a man, I made my children, I watch them, I even help with our 3 nieces-nephews–one of whom is a girl–and I owe no one an explanation or apology for being a man.

    To see me as anything else, until I’ve done something awful to establish me as offensive, is itself offensive and of no value to our culture. It’s time we rid ourselves of it, because it sure as hell doesn’t belong here.

    LRH

  97. Donna December 4, 2010 at 4:33 am #

    @ SKL – So if you had boys, you would refuse to hire a female babysitter? Do you ask your babysitters their sexual orientation? After all a lesbian babysitter would arguably be more of a potential threat to your little girls than a gay male.

    Your refusal to hire a male babysitter is making the assumption that all males could potentially molest and all females are unlikely to. It is based on nothing but sexism. It is no different than the men back in the day at my former law firm who offered Sandra Day O’Connor a position as a legal secretary after she graduated at the top of her law school class since obviously a woman can’t really be a lawyer (and they were the only firm who would offer her ANY job).

    I predominantly use family members as babysitters since they are free. 3 out of 4 of them are men. If I need an outside the family babysitter, my list of men to ask is probably equal to or larger than my list of women to ask. And “locking my kids up with a male I don’t know well” is not a specific concern of mine since I don’t “lock my kids up” with ANYONE I don’t know well.

  98. SKL December 4, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    No, Matt, I did not say I assume that men will act this way. I am saying that I will not take that risk with my own 4-year-old daughters.

    I will add that on the street I lived on from age 2-12, plus the next street over, there were 5 older males who I know from personal experience would and did take sexual liberties with children. Two of them did so with me, one with my sister (and I was there to see it and drag her away), and two with my brothers. Five men (at least) on just two relatively short streets in an ordinary residential neighborhood. So when I hear “it’s so rare,” I don’t believe it. That’s not the same as saying “every man is a perv.”

    If other people feel good about male babysitters and choose to hire them, that is their business. I am not out campaigning against it. I posted my comment (the one that so offended you) because I felt people were responding very unfairly to the previous poster Jen, who honestly stated that her experiences prevented her from feeling comfortable about locking her kids up alone with a male she didn’t know well. Some of the responses to her (and now to me) were quite menacing. As if, we’d “better” hire a male babysitter or be hated and maybe go to hell for causing such huge problems in the world. I’m sure every decision you ever make considers “equal opportunity” first, right? Right.

  99. Lisa December 4, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    Donna,

    Well said!

  100. SKL December 4, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    By the way, my father has babysat and bathed my daughters. I know him, though. There are some other men I’d allow to babysit if they wanted to. But I’d need to know them pretty darn well.

    I don’t understand why some people can’t make the simple distinction between avoiding a risk and accusing a whole gender.

    Do you strap your kids into your car? Why? Most car trips do not involve accidents. An un-restrained child would come out perfetcly whole the vast majority of the time. Then aren’t you being stupid and obnoxious when you strap your kids in?

    If babysitting were the only job available to males, I could see the outrage. But no, I do not believe I have single-handedly caused the unemployment rate in my neighborhood. In fact, no male other than my dad has ever offered to babysit my kids. (And no, it’s not because I put men down every chance I get.) So, I think this is about as close to a non-issue as it can be.

    However, I feel the same as you about stuff like child care and changing baby diapers.

  101. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Thanks Larry – this is very much a guilty till proven innocent situation.

  102. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    Matt and Larry and Donna and Lisa and various others,

    Maybe your tone would be different if you our your child or loved one had been molested.

  103. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    In fact, I was molested 3x (by men) but never once was in a car accident as a kid. Must be at least 3x as stupid to use child restraints in cars than to take a pass on leaving my daughter alone with a male babysitter whom I don’t know. Since that is obviously VERY stupid (not to mention bigoted, intolerant, and generally evil), I will immediately stop strapping my kids in their car seats.

  104. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    SKL – if you were not prejudiced against all men you would not say you wouldn’t leave your daughters alone with one.

    Why would you equate babysitting with locking up a child? What the hell is that about?

    I don’t demand anyone hire a male babysitter, I do find it offensive that you would prejudge men. Your personal tragedy gives you the right, as a mother, to determine what is best for your child. You can make all the decisions you would like under whatever process works for you.

    Keep in mind that when you write your ideas and opinions on the internet you are ipso facto advocating them, so yes, you are “out there campaigning against it.” And when you do that someone sending an opposing response is not picking a fight.

  105. April December 4, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    @oncefallendotcom

    I guess Mr. Walsh doesn’t know much about poodles, they are more feisty and unpredictable that Dobermans.

  106. Donna December 4, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    “I don’t understand why some people can’t make the simple distinction between avoiding a risk and accusing a whole gender.”

    Because your so-called avoiding a risk is in fact a statement that an entire gender is a threat to molest your children. You are only avoiding the risk that a male will molest your child and discount the risk that a female will molest (beat, kill, etc) your child. Both are possible but extremely unlikely.

    It is not about impact to the unemployment rate. You are intelligent enough to realize that that was a ridiculous statement. I’m sure that you would not say that it’s okay that women are prevented from being doctors even if that prevention had no impact on overall unemployment rates. It’s about an entire gender being prevented from doing a job for which they are qualified based solely on the fact that they have a penis.

  107. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    Matt, when I say “locking up a child alone with …” I’m talking about shutting them in my locked house. They don’t leave the house without permission. They aren’t very good at opening the door, for that matter. So if they were alone in the house with someone and found themselves in danger, they would have no practical way out of the situation. As I explained, this is different from most situations where the child is either not alone with the person or can get away or draw attention to the problem.

    Nothing I ever said “prejudges all men.” I know that most men are safe with children. I also know that some men are not. That is a fact. You deny and ignore it at your own (or your child’s) risk.

  108. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    By the way, I’d love for this discussion to include the families of those children who were molested by the boys Jen worked with. They let those boys babysit. I’m sure they thought it was perfectly safe, maybe even a progressive act on their part. Perhaps they were afraid to say “no” because it would make someone feel bad. It turns out they made the wrong decision for their children. Fact.

  109. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Donna, how do you define “extremely unlikely”?

  110. Donna December 4, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    “my daughter alone with a male babysitter whom I don’t know.”

    You act like we are advocating picking men up off the street and hiring them to baby sit children. Any potential babysitter, whether male or female, should be very highly recommended and vetted before ever left alone with a child.

    And close family members of mine have been molested. I have also been in 2 serious car accidents but that doesn’t stop me from driving.

    Your comparison to seat belts is idiotic. There is nothing bigoted about putting on a seatbelt or intolerant about putting on a seatbelt. It is not a statement that a particular group of people can’t be trusted but another group can. Many people’s seatbelt wearing has nothing to do with safety at all. I wear a seatbelt because I don’t want to pay a $25 ticket every few weeks or so (and the police stand in my neighborhood and ticket people there for failing to wear a seatbelt regularly). Maybe if I made more money, I’d be more willing to forgo the seatbelt but I don’t have an extra $25 for stupid stuff so I wear it.

  111. Larry Harrison December 4, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    SKL I genuinely am sorry for what your experiences, but still “maybe your tone would be different if” means nothing. Really it means nothing. I once got food poisoning at Arby’s. That doesn’t mean anything. I also got food poisoning at Golden Corral & Burger King. So what?

    A woman named Karen whom I dated really did me wrong. Good thing my current wife’s name wasn’t Karen, I’d hate to think I’d stereotype all Karen’s as bad women who use men.

    For that matter, Lenore Skenazy is from New York City–where 9/11 happened. Does that make her a terrorist? For that matter her son Izzy is the same name as Izzy Stradlin who was a guitarist for Guns N Roses. Does this mean Lenore’s son is going to grow up to be a hard rocker who lives a sordid, drug-infested life?

    There you have it.

    LRH

  112. Donna December 4, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    “I know that most men are safe with children. I also know that some men are not. That is a fact. You deny and ignore it at your own (or your child’s) risk.”

    Hmmm. Many female babysitters have abused or murdered their charges. I’m sure that there have been some female babysitters who molested their charges. While most women are safe with children some are not. That is a fact. You deny and ignore it at your own (or your child’s) risk. Therefore nobody should ever hire any babysitter whatsoever. Seems like the epitamy of helicopter thinking to me.

  113. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Thanks for providing an example for Lenore’s next call for fear-mongering.

  114. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    So Donna,

    1) Close family members of yours have been molested, yet you consider this “extremely unlikely”?

    2) So we are allowed to consider actual risk only when nobody’s feelings can be hurt?

    There is nothing “bigoted” about acknowledging that a much higher percentage of molesters are males than females. And also that the percentage of males who, given the chance, will molest children is not effectively zero. Whatever rate you consider acceptable before gender discrimination is allowed should be the same rate of risk at which you take any other precautions – helmets, safety belts, smoke alarms, vaccinations, choking hazards, etc.

  115. SKL December 4, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    I just can’t believe the way you all trounced Jen for being moved by the actual horrible things that were done to little children by boy babysitters whom she worked with. How dare she be affected by hearing such things. How dare she think maybe by her choices she might protect her kid from the same. She was the scum of the earth.

    Listen to yourselves.

    That is the only reason I posted after her comment. So now I am the scum of the earth. Or as suggested by Matt, I’m entitled to do what I want for whatever reason, as long as I don’t admit it on the internet.

    Risk is risk. PC is PC. Sometimes one has to bend for the other.

  116. Donna December 4, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    Yes. Two family members of mine were molested in two very different settings many years apart. Neither were part of a hermit family so they both interacted with thousands of men during their childhoods. They were free range too. Of those thousands of strange men that they came in contact with 2 were identified molestors. I also have many other family members – the vast majority of them actually since I have well over 2 relatives – who were never molested at all. So basically of my entire family, 2 members have been molested by 2 of the many thousands of men that they encountered during their lifetime. Yeah, I’d say that it’s extremely damn rare to be molested.

  117. SKL December 4, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Donna,

    Well my family must really be sexy, because I and at least 4 of my 5 siblings were molested as children. As was my mom. Personally it happened to me 3 times by much older males, but I don’t go around telling people this. Nobody besides my siblings and mom knows of any of these. My siblings only know about 1 incident. My mom knows of 2. So maybe, just maybe, there are cases in your family that you don’t know about. It’s not exactly something you bring up over Thanksgiving dinner.

  118. Donna December 4, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    “And also that the percentage of males who, given the chance, will molest children is not effectively zero. ”

    And, in fact the percentage of female babysitters who will murder your children if given a reason is not effectively zero so all babysitting should be ended.

    “Whatever rate you consider acceptable before gender discrimination is allowed should be the same rate of risk at which you take any other precautions – helmets, safety belts, smoke alarms, vaccinations, choking hazards, etc.”

    Actually no it shouldn’t. I don’t treat all risks identical. I look at the impact on my life of engaging in the risk. For example, wearing a seat belt makes abolutely no impact on my life therefore I am unwilling to accept the miniscule risk on every individual trip that I will need the seatbelt. On the other hand, driving a car is a necessity in my current life so I am willing to accept the risk that I will get into an accident on the way home tonight that will kill me (seatbelt or not).

    I will also look at the impact of the risk on other people. I may be willing to take the risk of driving 100 mph but I don’t drive 100 mph because it ‘s not fair to the other people on the road.

    Telling someone that they are not trusted to do a job because they have a penis is inherently different than wearing a seatbelt because you might have an accident.

  119. Sky December 4, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    Donna, statistically speaking, it is, unfortunately, not extremely rare at all. In fact, approximately 25% of all girls are sexually abused by the age of 16. But most don’t share this information routinely. Although I was never sexually abused myself, of all my closest personal female friends over my lifetime, 3/4th have eventually, at some point or other, told me they were sexually abused as children. If it takes years to tell your close friend, I don’t think you are going to be telling your second cousin once removed. Sexual abuse is far more common than people realize.

  120. Donna December 4, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    @ SKL – Possible but my family is pretty open about those things.

    Molestation has nothing to do with sexy and everything to do with vulnerability. A child molester picks someone that can be easily manipulated and will be unlikely to tell. That is why the vast majority of molestation victims come from dysfunctional households. I don’t know your home situation as a child but something made your family particularly vulnerable to child molestors. For most people, that will not be the case since I’ve yet to hear of another family in which all the family members have been molested by different people and this is what I do for a living.

  121. Donna December 4, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    “In fact, approximately 25% of all girls are sexually abused by the age of 16.”

    I don’t think that statisic is valid. That 25% includes stat rape cases. Those are not sexual abuse cases. Those are cases in which the girl wanted to have sex but was under the age of consent. That is a completely different animal than child molestation.

  122. Sky December 4, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    ] “Statistically, more men are sexual predators, but statistically, more black people commit violent crimes – so I wonder why it’s still socially acceptable to discriminate against men but not so against black people?”

    The position of a babysitter is not an equal opportunity job. It’s a private transaction involving trust, personal preference, and individual needs, where discrimination for all sorts of reasons occurs and is generally considered socially acceptable. If I am an Orthodox Jew, and I prefer to hire an Orthodox Jewish babysitter over an evangelical Christian babysitter to watch my children, what of it? People pick the babysitters with whom they are MOST COMFORTABLE, and if they are not comfortable with a male babysitter, there is nothing wrong in declining to hire a male babysitter.

    Also, while it’s true that “more black people commit violent crimes,” it is NOT true that over 80% of ALL violent crimes are committed by black people. It isn’t that “more men molest children,” it’s that if a girl is molested, 94% of the time, she is molested by a male; even if it’s a boy that’s molested, 80% of the time, he’s molested by a male.

    NO, I don’t think that most males are child molesters. I do know, however, that **more than most** child molesters are males, as a statistical fact. It’s certainly true that MOST males are NOT out to molest kids. But those rare few who ARE out to molest kids (the serial molesters, who though small in number account for the largest number of cases) intentionally gravitate toward child care roles. And no, this doesn’t mean that all males who want to be in the child care profession are molesters. What all this does mean is that you dramatically reduce your odds of hiring someone who will sexually molest your daughter (or even your son, but especially your daughter) if you hire a female. If dramatically reducing those odds is important to you (and it may be if you yourself were molested as a child), then in all likelihood, consciously or subconsciously, the gender of the babysitter you hire probably will at least * factor in * to your thinking.

    There are trade offs in every safety decision. People who refuse to hire male babysitters may miss out on some great babysitters.

    To me, keeping my children pinned up in the house all day while hovering over them has far too many losses associated with it. But choosing to hire a female babysitter instead of a male babysitter has moderately few losses associated with it.

    Whether I personally would hire a male or not I don’t know. I’ve never had one apply or offer to babysit my kids. If I did, I’m sure I would take into account all sorts of factors, and possibly hire him. But if I had to choose between two equally available and seemingly responsible babysitters, one male and one female, I would probably hire the female.

  123. Tom December 4, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    “25% of all girls are sexually abused by the age of 16″ sounds like a crazy made-up statistic.

    The RAINN statistic is 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. That makes a 1-in-4 by 16 a mathematically impossible number. (In my view, RAINN overstates the statistics, using definitions of assault in ways that aren’t reasonable or consistent.)

  124. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    I think we can all agree that children should only be left in the care of people we know and trust. They should not be “locked up” they should be taught how to evade people who make them uncomfortable and roam free and confident.

  125. Sky December 4, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    “I don’t think that statisic is valid. That 25% includes stat rape cases. Those are not sexual abuse cases.”

    No, they aren’t. Which is why they aren’t included in that figure. The actual figure is between 15-25% of girls, depending on the study. But even 15% is pretty high. Based on my own friendships, I’d guess 25% was the more likely figure.

  126. Sky December 4, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    The U.S. Justice Department figures are Roughly 33% of girls and 14% of boys molested before the age of 18.

  127. Tom December 4, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    Regarding the notion that because you know of a child molested by a man, thus all men are suspect, please consider this.

    I have, myself, been assaulted (not sexually) and robbed by a black man. Does that make it okay for me to avoid people, simply because of the color of their skin?

    We’ve decided (I think correctly) as a culture that judging people on the basis of skin color is not acceptable behavior. Judging people on the basis of their gender should be no more acceptable.

    We have a national history of discrimination based on race, and many of us are working to avoid that kind of injustice now and in the future.

    We have a national history of discrimination based on gender, and many of us are working to avoid that kind of injustice now and in the future. Swapping a distrust and deprecation of women (because they aren’t as capable as men) for a distrust of men (because they can’t control themselves) is to simply swap injustices. As the father of a young woman, I won’t stand for either.

    tc>

  128. therese December 4, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/fbi-video-enabled-barbie-sexual-predators/story?id=12306741

    please tell me you have seen this!

  129. SKL December 4, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Personally I think the 25% statistic is understated, based on my experience and the people I know. I won’t list them all, but I can think of a whole list of cases of molestation of children by men that I know of personally.

    Now, Donna thinks that’s because I have a dysfunctional family. I don’t think so. My family is pretty normal, parents stayed married, didn’t abuse, no significant periods of unemployment, no criminal behavior, everyone’s been to college, nobody’s ever been “estranged.” Maybe the “problem” is that I have a good memory. Also a family who were close friends of my parents had a situation where the uncle and grandfather raped the children while babysitting. Whether or not that is offensive, it is true. It doesn’t mean that you, Larry, Matt, etc., are molesters. But the fact that you aren’t doesn’t mean every other man should be trusted with my kids.

  130. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    And I know none, so I guess I can make it 10%… This can go on and on!

    Why are we arguing about the semantics? The only thing that will keep our kids save is to know the caregivers as well as possible and teach the kids to kick bite punch, run out of the “locked up” house and tell an adult. We cannot prevent all bad things as sad as that is. Saying that because 95% of molestations are perpetrated by ~5% (a guess) of the male population, men shouldn’t be alone with kids is insane.

    “Based on my own friendships, I’d guess 25% was the more likely figure.”

  131. SKL December 4, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Well, Matt, my 4-year-old weighs 30 lbs and I don’t expect her to have to fight off a man (or woman) and be responsible for her own safety just yet. As I said before, I’ll revisit when my kids are bigger and more street-wise.

    I also did say that they HAVE had a male babysitter whom I know and trust (my father). This post was about a woman who had a kid she didn’t know come and ask for a job. “He sounded warm on the phone and had great references.” Not enough for me.

  132. Matt L. December 4, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Right, because enough for you is references, nice in person and a vagina if not blood relative got it.

  133. Scott December 4, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Hm, statistics were mentioned. Well, statistically, over 95% of children abused by a babysitter are abused by a female babysitter.

  134. Cheryl W December 4, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    Thank you Scott. Abuse does not have to sexual to cause lasting damage!

  135. Rebecca December 4, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    My twin brothers only ever had male babysitters (besides me and my sister) and it really was great. They bonded with them quite well (good for following instructions on bedtime, etc) and all the horseplay wore them out and they slept great. The babysitters also made great role models. And you know what? One of the babysitters is now my brother in-law! While our current childcare helper (a part time nanny) is female, when my son is older and needs a babysitter, I would probably actually prefer a male.

  136. Lihtox December 4, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    @enyawface: We men do need to stand up for ourselves, and that includes helping out the lost kid at the gym, even if there’s a small risk you might be labelled a predator for it. If people don’t see men helping kids, if kids don’t have positive experiences with adult males, then of course men are going to look creepy.

    As for this “Feminazi” crap: I am a proud feminist and have no desire to lock myself (as a man) in a little cage. There are a few women out there who have suffered greatly at the hands of men and have become bitter about it, but defining feminism in terms of those few women is like defining men in terms of the few predators out there: absurd. (Never mind the way the term makes light of the Holocaust.) What feminism should NOT be expected to do, however, is to fight for the rights of men; they may lend support, but ultimately that battle is ours.

  137. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Matt L.
    The only thing that will keep our kids safe is to never have any, I’ve scheduled my vasectomy for Monday.

  138. Jen December 4, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    It boils down to this: acceptable risk. And that is different for everyone. None of us here has had the same life experiences, so acceptable risk is different for all of us. Therefore, there is no need or room for the judgment of others.

    I am not going to tell any of you that you are crazy to have male babysitters, I don’t believe that. But I know that both myself and my husband are NOT comfortable with it.

  139. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Lihtox
    Femi-Nazi refers to the culture that attempts to ingrain that males are the evil spawn of Satan from conception on, when, in fact, they should be referring to themselves.

  140. timkenwest December 4, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Matt brings up a point that I have long been curious about: “Saying that because 95% of molestations are perpetrated by ~5% (a guess) of the male population…”

    Does anyone know the actual statistic for this?

    Also, I’ve long wondered about the “25% sexually assaulted” statistic. How is “sexual assault” defined for this reporting? Please, I don’t want lurid details, but does anyone know if it includes events like “having your ass grabbed by a stranger as you walk through a crowd” or “creepy older person shows you a page from a porn magazine”?

    Thanks

  141. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I’m just curious,
    If we were to toss in another factor here. Let’s say the babysitters are a gay male acquaintance, his partner and is asking for a play date for their recently adopted child, or asking that your child be allowed to spend the night with their child.
    What would the response be to this?

  142. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Tim
    A Kinsey report suggests that statistically, 95% of all statistics are incorrect.

  143. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Let me be blunt: discriminating on gender has zero basis, ethically or intellectually. It doesn’t even matter whether a gender has a supposed bias, the minute you institute differential treatment based on potential (the stereotype) rather than the actual (the individual) all notion of fairness is dissolved. Judgement should be about what an individual has done, not what they are capable of. A presumption of guilt is flawed assumption.

  144. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Tim
    On the serious side though, it depends on who did the study. Some of these studies on this matter include simply being looked at in a way that makes you uncomfortable. In that case, I guess I’m assaulted about 20 times a day every time I walk out the door.

  145. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    @enyawface

    I can tell you from practical experience that being gay is an excellent defence against this kind of stupidity. It is (at least in Australia, where I am) socially unacceptable to accuse a gay man of being a paedophile (it is seen as a base homophobic slur). Social conformance is a powerful driver of conduct.

    This whole discussion is really all about social rules and socially acceptable discrimination. People are just slapping all sorts of lame justifications on top of their bigotry and prejudice like they always do. I’m gay, I’ve seen these exact same techniques used to justify discrimination against homosexuality. Frankly, I’m shocked that nobody’s resorted to carefully selected Bible quotes to justify the bigotry yet.

  146. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Stuart,
    Funny you should mention Bible quotes. The main two places I’ve ran into this whole men with children fear was at Seminary and at Church. While at Seminary, several of the kids from the family housing used to come over and hang out with us in the men’s dorm. Never knew of any problem, but soon they instituted a policy that children were not allowed in the men’s dorm. One of my fellow student’s was a recently divorced father, this meant he could no longer bring his two son’s to visit on his weekends. It also put two of the boys from the family housing out of work as a few of us guys paid them to do chores in the dorm. Vacuum the dorm hallways, carry the trash down the 2 flights of stairs, no longer allowed because of the possible accusations that could result.
    The 2nd was at my church. I took over driving the church van. The previous driver had made the excuse that he needed to move due to family reasons, after a couple of months, I found out the real reason. Every year we had Vacation Bible School and went door to door in the church neighborhood inviting everyone to attend. This often resulted in many neighborhood kids attending. At the end of VBS we would always ask t kids if they wanted to continue coming to church, and the ones who didn’t come with parents we would pick up on the church van. Our new pastor had made some rules the driver didn’t agree with, and that was why he quit. The pasotr just assumed that since I was in Seminary with him that I would take “all precautions”, the proverbial manure hit the fan when he found out that on a particularly hot day, I had promised the VBS kids, that at the end of summer, I would take all the kids with perfect attendance for Sunday school swimming at the local beach and I had taken the two boys with perfect attendance as promised. He also didn’t like that as a favor to their mother, who was trying to put food on the table, I was picking them up first and dropping them off last even though they lived a few block from the church, this was so that their mother could go work, sometimes I would even keep them with me for a few hours after church. This was fully explained to mom that this was an arrangement between me and her, not with the church. We were becoming good friends, and she trusted me with her kids, but the Pastor was appalled at the “situation” I was exposing the church to, what f one of the kids should say something. I was told from that point on, that I could not pick up any children whose parents were not attending church with them, and could never be alone with a child in the church van. The church lost another driver that day, as to accommodate the rule I would have had to start the route an extra hour earlier and no one wanted to be picked up 2 hours before church.

  147. jenincanada December 4, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    I was wondering when someone would pull out the Femi-Nazi card. Because wanting to be treated as an equal human being is JUST LIKE invading Poland, amirite? Ha ha ha. Oh my sides, they ache. Feminism: It’s not about ruining men/putting men down/making women better than men. It’s about achieving EQUALITY. If you can’t wrap your head around that, well, too bad for you.

    Seriously people, men are more likely to molest children, and as was said above, molestation is often a crime of opportunity. Instead of just never hiring male babysitters, get references and do interviews with whoever you want to hire, man or woman, and of course, talk with your kids about what’s ‘bad touching’, etc.

    Also, all this talk about ‘boys’ vs. ‘girls’ and how men who babysit are SO MUCH BETTER than women because they’re so active and actually play with the kids? That’s sexist. And stupid. And based on bullshit stereotypes. I know this isn’t the most progressive space, despite it being free-range and all that, but damn, sometimes the comments just make my head spin.

  148. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Stuart,
    I wish that were true here, unfortunately, it seems to be generally accepted here (or at least with the people I most come into contact with), that all gay men are attracted to young boys. Because I don’t have a regular girlfriend, and I live with an older male (an older family friend who often travels overseas for his work , wanted someone to take care of his house, and doesn’t want to be alone when he is home) many of the people who don’t know me well often assume I must be gay. It also doesn’t help that the young gay men that visit our resort seem to gravitate to me during their visit, and being comfortable in my own skin, I don’t mind talking with them and being a good host.
    It never fails that I always hear some version of the pedo fear when kids are visiting the resort. The guy who runs the concessions often has kids around, and is older. I’ve heard a few of the single hens off in the corner talking about that, and one morning when I had spent the night and gone up to the camp fire to heat some coffee, there also happened to be one of the regular kids there.He struck up a conversation and within minutes up comes running one of the hens, as soon as he left for something. “You really shouldn’t be up here at the fire alone with a boy, what will people think?” I’m like, I’m in an open place, with 20 houses facing it and nearly 300 people camping out around me, plus, I’ve been going to this place over 5 years and never has anyone complained about anything I’ve done, and for something like that to be insinuated, just because I am a single male….
    I know for me, I am disgusted with the constant male bashing, it seems to start against males these days at birth, if your born with a penis you are bound to be a rapist or a pedo.In IT work I sometimes monitor chat and social networks, it both amazes me and appalls me as I see children often accuse each other of being pedophiles simply because a boy might say that a girl is cute, or a young gay teen, tells another boy that he thinks is gay in a gay teen chat that the boy is cute, and next thing I see, someone is saying they are both pedophiles.
    Some days, I really do think the safest thing for us guys and for kids is to just stop having kids. Then some stupid thing comes on TV ( that pasta commercial with the kid slurping up the spaghetti, all over his face, whipping it on his white shirt)) and reminds me of all the good times I’ve had with kids in the past. And that “unnatural male yearning” to have a child of my own kicks in again.

  149. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    @enyawface

    Liability is a very real issue. If you are acting as an agent of a organisation, then they are liable for your conduct. Most organisations won’t have much tolerance for that kind of risk.

    The unfortunate outcome of these practical concerns is exactly what happened – you weren’t allowed do the job any more. As long as the cost of that choice is lower than the cost of being sued, this is what will continue to happen. In my experience, business always has an actuarial approach to ethics.

  150. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Jen,
    I am all for feminist and equality. No problem with it. Femi-Nazis however are not. They are nothing about equality, as I stated before, Femi_Nazis stand on the firm belief that all males are the spawn of Satan and should be exterminated, except for the use of fertilization. Feminism and Femi-Nazis are not related except that they both start off with Femi. Kind of like Homogenized Milk and Homosexuality.

  151. bmj2k December 4, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    15% molested.
    33% abused.
    Whatever.
    NONE of those statistics count for beans unless we know what they consider molestation or abuse. Do they include boys yelling at girls in schoolyards? Do they include girls who reported being “looked at funny”? Frankly, I take all the statistics mentioned in this thread and toss them in the trash.

  152. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Jen,
    Can you show us were it is proven that men are more likely to molest children than women? You also stated that it is a crime of opportunity. It is a very obvious and indisputable fact that women would have abundantly more opportunity than a man to molest a child, just by mere time spent with children than any other fact alone.

  153. jenincanada December 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Do your own research, Enyawface. I don’t have the time or energy to educate you. You want to know, you do the work. Me, I’m light-years beyond you.

  154. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    Jen,
    I am quite well educated in the matter. Nor am I blinded by light. You were the one making the statement that it is a fact that men are so much more predisposed to molest children, where do you get your information?

  155. jenincanada December 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Since you asked so nicely: http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/male-sex-offenders.html Enjoy.

  156. SKL December 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Anyone notice how many of the comments here imply that males are the coolest babysitters? But that’s not sexist.

    Not that I care about my concern being gender-based. Just pointing out the hypocrasy.

  157. Larry Harrison December 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    This post has turned into a flame-war of sorts, apparently, and I’m participating just like everyone else is, so I can’t say anything, but I think it’s worth observing just the same.

    My take, and this is my 3rd post, is this: men & women have their advantages & disadvantages, because they’re different. We’re supposed to be different. The differences compliment each other. That’s why, in my opinion–sorry, I don’t mean to be a homophobe–but that’s why the normal design is for men and women to meet, date, get serious, and ultimately marry.

    But this isn’t a post about “marriage is Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve” or whatever, that’s just a side-bar.

    The real thing is this: men and women both are suitable babysitters, equally, just with different strengths & weaknesses, and with obvious exceptions to the rule. In general, and I’m generalizing (hence the bold letters), women are more nurturing, men are more adventurous and risky. You need both in a child’s life.

    If you want a babysitter that’s more nurturing, hire a woman. If you want a babysitter that’s more apt to let a child learn on his or her own and be independent, hire a man.

    And again, these are generalizations and this does NOT mean that men can’t be nurturing nor that all women are overly risk-observe. This is just on balance, and it’s about strengths. Just because someone, of whatever gender, is not as “adventurous” as someone else doesn’t mean they’re totally lacking in adventure altogether. It’s just a matter of what they naturally lean more towards.

    All of that said, both men AND women make suitable babysitters.

    And, again, generalizations aside, a person deserves to be evaluated on their own individual merits, without stereotyping or presuming one way or the other. This means that a female babysitter deserves the benefit of the doubt that she’s not going to be overly nurturing to the point of babying the child too much until actual experience proves otherwise (or previous experience they bring with them). A male deserves the benefit that he’s not going to be less nurturing to such an extent as to be a gruff, insensitive jerk–until experiences proves otherwise or unless previous experience of that particular person suggests it.

    And yes, a man deserves the benefit of the doubt that he’s not a molester unless it can be shown that this particular individual, based on their own individual nuances–NOT THEIR GENDER–is a risk factor.

    Anything else, with all of it, is sexism and prejudice.

    To hell with your personal experiences, to hell with your own quirks and tendencies. If you do otherwise, you’re just plain flat in the wrong and that’s the end of it. White-wash it all you want, justify it all you want with your luggage, but having an excuse why you’re biased–for a woman, or for a man, or against whoever–it doesn’t make you wrong, it just keeps you in the dark.

    Turn the light on already. The bulb’s blown, and so are your excuses to be anything but enlightened.

    LRH

  158. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Larry,

    Amen

  159. SKL December 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    So Larry, how do you go about determining whether a prospective babysitter will, if given a chance, molest your kids? Ask him/her? Give him/her a lie detector test? Spy on him/her with a hidden camera / microphone for six months or so?

  160. Lihtox December 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    Jen: if you can say “more men are molesters” and base an argument on it, then someone else can base an argument on “more men are physically active”. Both are probably true. Neither is relevant when you’re dealing with individual people.

    Enyawface: You speak of these “feminazis” as if they have some influence or power over society. They’re a lunatic fringe; forget about them. (And considering that U.S. conservatives frequently use the term as a synonym for feminists, you may want to consider a different term if you want to be understood.)

  161. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    The following passage is from “Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (2001)” – Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a part of Statistics Canada (available here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/85-224-x2001000-eng.pdf):

    Page 8 – “Sexual abuse, in contrast to the other categories of maltreatment, was committed less often by the child’s primary caregiver. Most alleged perpetrators were either other relatives (44% of cases) or non-relatives (31%). Figure 1.6 shows that alleged perpetrators who were related to the child victim were equally likely to be a biological father or step-father and less likely to be the child’s biological mother or step-mother. Although a
    specific breakdown on the particular relationship to the child of “other relatives” is not shown, it is clear from Figure 1.6 that this grouping is the single most significant category of individuals who commit such acts (44%).”

    The primary risk factor for sexual abuse is familial relation, not gender.

    Still, all the stats in the world are irrelevant in the face of a simple truth: some people are ok with prejudging an entire gender and discriminating against individuals as a result of that. Those people are the first to complain if they’re stereotyped and discriminated against themselves, but they appear blind to their own hypocrisy. I’m not really sure how to get past that kind of bigotry.

  162. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    @Larry Harrison

    A heterosexual man arguing that there is a biological or evolutionary basis for *monogamous marriage* has got to be the single most outlandish idea in this entire thread. (Yes, it’s a stereotype – and this is where it belongs, in the middle of a joke).

  163. SKL December 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    But Stuart, how do you get past the facts that (a) babysitter molestations are not particularly rare; (b) the perp is male in the substantial majority of such cases; and (c) there is no reliable way for a mere acquaintance to tell which individuals will and won’t do such things when given the opportunity? (Please skip the name-calling and answer the substance of the question, if you can.)

  164. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    @SKL

    Short of precognition, I don’t see how this is possible for any prospective sitter (whether they have a penis or not). It’s like asking how do I know that they won’t shake the baby?

    Either you trust them or you don’t – all due prudence aside, that’s what leaving your kids in the care of others always boils down to.

  165. SKL December 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    So basically we are asked to ignore statistics. I thought we were supposed to be realistic about statistics on this site. When they tend to give comfort, we’re to acknowledge them, but when they could hurt someone’s feelings, we must pretend they don’t exist.

    This reminds me of the rationale for strip-searching random 4-year-olds at airports. We have to do it so that the people we profile as possible terrorists don’t feel bad when it gets done to them.

  166. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    @SKL

    Familial relationship is the primary risk factor. That’s the answer (statistically, anyway – the idea that you can distil complex human behaviour down to single variables in practice is doomed to failure).

    For me personally, discounting somebody solely on gender is flawed. I don’t think it’s right when it’s done to women, or when it’s done to men. What more can I say than that?

  167. SKL December 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Stuart, you are ignoring the 31% that are non-relatives. You don’t think 31% is significant? I do. When we’re talking about hiring a babysitter from a pool of non-relatives (which this article is about), it’s only the 31% that matters at all.

    I notice you also conveniently ignore the fact that of the 44% (relatives), the majority are male.

    You might as well say that most terrorists are right-handed, and therefore no other characteristic is significant.

  168. Stuart December 4, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    @SKL

    We’ve gotten out of step in the replies.

    Nobody is asking you to ignore statistics, merely to understand their limits. There is no way that a stat is ever going to tell you about an individual with certainty – statistics are tools best suited to large populations and their management.

  169. SKL December 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Stuart, I agree that the stats don’t tell me about an individual. But I can still use them to inform my choices. I have very limited time to vet potential babysitters. Hence I will narrow my search based on my knowledge of statistics and my personal experiences. It’s possible that I could miss a great babysitter when I pass over the person who is 17, the one who’s 65, the one who can’t spell, the one who’s had 10 jobs in 3 years, the one who is scantily clad in her resume photo, and the lone guy on the list. I’m willing to take that risk because it’s better than trying to do an individual psych eval on each candidate within 15 miles of my house.

  170. enyawface December 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    SKL,
    Actually, you are correct, most terrorists are right handed.

  171. SgtMom December 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    My sister in law used to laugh about molesting baby boys as a teen babysitter.

    When she was caught, she said the parents just never asked her to babysit again.

    While it certainly is true the majority of those prosecuted for sexual misconduct are male, it is also true the majority of those ignored or given a pass for sexual misconduct are female.

    It is perceived that female sexual abuse isn’t as damaging as male, and female abuse is rarely pursued .

    The truth is, no one is innocent by reason of gender, just as no one is guilty by reason of gender.

    But what does truth have to do with it?

  172. pentamom December 5, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    “Stuart, you are ignoring the 31% that are non-relatives.”

    Of which a lot of them are “mom’s boyfriend.” Not legal or blood relatives, but part of the domestic situation.

  173. Paula December 5, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    I was wondering when someone would pull out the Femi-Nazi card. Because wanting to be treated as an equal human being is JUST LIKE invading Poland, amirite? Ha ha ha. Oh my sides, they ache. Feminism: It’s not about ruining men/putting men down/making women better than men. It’s about achieving EQUALITY. If you can’t wrap your head around that, well, too bad for you.
    jenincanada I posted what you said for a reason. They kind of feminsim you believe in has done nothing but damage the future for women. Unlike the feminism that the suffergettes wanted (you know real equality) what we have now is police who will not believe a victim who reports a woman who abuses them, who will arrest a male victim of domestic abuse, women who have stated that 40% deliberatly sever contact between children and fathers for the sher hell of it, who go round with the I am strong I am invinisble I am woman drivel but as soon as divorce is mentioned act the little women. Did you know that in the UK in the last year we have had at least a dozen women proven to have falsly accused men of rape, one woman actuall told her friend she had unprotected sex with a stranger just so she could acuse him of rape, another who wrote off a drug debt by acusing a man of rape, and another who wanted £7000 from the criminal injuries board claiming a man raped her who had not even had sex with her. If women want equality then they put on their big girl knickers and grow up. How many female baby sitters have been convicted of either beating their charges or killing them? Lastly you have heard of the nursery school in the UK where the FEMALE staff members have been convicted of child abuse, seemingly the figures of female pedophiles is increasing greatly because at last the police are starting to belive the kids. Do you remember the woman who had a child by a child of 12 people didn’t want her to go to prison but if had been a man no problem because people don’t see females abusing children as being abusive.

  174. gramomster December 5, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Okay, gotta say a couple things… one, @ SKL… I find it unfortunate that you have an attitude towards teens that they can’t think 3 inches past their noses. When your own daughter is a teen, and others think that way about teen girls, you will be very crabby about it, believe me.

    And, I just saw a horrifying video of a woman, in a home, working as a nanny with, I believe, a 10 month old baby. Suffice it to say, the parents, who had done background checks and referencing, developed some concerns and installed a nannycam, the resultant video from which got the woman, let me repeat, WOMAN, an 8 year sentence for child abuse.
    Also, as to the tone might be different if I or a loved one had actually been molested… both of my brothers were. By males. One, the older one, was routinely sexually abused by a trusted teacher for many years. It was a religious situation, and the boys lived to together with their male teachers, who had taken vows of celibacy. Sound familiar? But they weren’t Catholic. Anyway, he was incredibly damaged. Suffered from severe mental illness, and eventually, after years of attempts, took his life almost 12 years ago at the age of 26. About 10 of the boys he grew up around have committed suicide as a long term result of the abuse they suffered. The younger brother was stranger-abducted and molested. We got him back, he was just past 5, about to start kindergarten. He was gone over 10 hours after being taken out of the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. My mom was 8 months pregnant with our baby sister. I was 17. The sister after me, age 14, was watching him at the playground.
    So, based on this, my mom and I should be the biggest helicoptering parents around, right? But no. We get that it was those particular people who perpetrated those crimes. Additionally, there were several other abductions, both stranger and non-custodial, that occurred in a very small time-span in the early ’80s near and in our family.
    Also, I think it’s an assumption to say that the boys Jen worked with assaulted small children they were babysitting. Maybe they were not babysitting. Perhaps they were older cousins at a holiday gathering. Perhaps they were neighbor kids, or friends of older siblings of the molested children. So, that’s a big leap.

    And at Kimberly… good thing you didn’t hire MY daughter!! Of my two kids, my younger son was definitely the one who was more risk aware and risk averse than his older sister. She was the roughhouser, he was the cautious one who preferred to be left alone with a good book, and the one who genuinely enjoyed little kids and dolls.

    She’s now 20, and has bailed on her own little boy. Maternal?! HA!! My son? He’s 18, and can keep his nephew entertained and safe. Hard to say, but I’ve done it… Had my son, at 16, stay the weekend with his small nephew, then 2, in preference to the boy’s own mother while Grampa and I went out of town for an anniversary. Uncle is much better at being engaged, and patient, and making sure that teeth are brushed, kid gets read to, and nicely tucked in than mom is. He also wakes. up. in. the. morning. when little dude does, as opposed to Mommy, who turns on cartoons and rolls over amid much bitching and moaning.

    Gender does not a good kid watcher make, or not make! Personality and temperament do. Bad experiences of course influence our decisions, and help to create our worldview, but we also have rational minds. How many of us have been in car accidents, and continued to drive? How many of us have fallen off of a bike, and continued to ride? Broken a bone skiing and not given it up? Had a bad hair cut but gotten it cut again? Had food poisoning, and eaten that same food again (chicken…)?

    Bad crap happens to everyone, but we can’t live our lives in fear of it happening again. Isn’t that kind of the whole point of this? That we look at the facts and the rationality, and don’t let our fear emotions take over, even if we’ve personally experienced some of those very things that we fear? If I continued to let my fear of stranger abduction rule my parenting, which I would be valid in, given my experience with my brother, I would be in the ‘Lenore is the worst mom in the world’ camp, right?

  175. edie December 5, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    It’s a wonder I would ever hire a woman again for anything after seeing the woman left in charge of a baby and was caught on camera throwing it around like a bouncy ball. And oh yeah, my best baby-sitter when my kids were little was a teen-aged boy. But then I can remember the guys are were bad and the gals who were good. Let’s face it, categorizing rarely pans out the way you imagine.

  176. marion December 5, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    SKL, since statistics show male relatives are the most likely to molest, why do you leave your girls with your father?

    Just asking.

  177. marion December 5, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    Oh wait, you trust your dad and are probably insulted because people might suspect him of molesting your little girls. Even though statistically, he might be doing exactly that. Matter of fact, he is more likely than the random babysitter.

  178. E. Simms December 5, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    A commenter on the article posted a couple good links:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm08/cm08.pdf

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

  179. Lihtox December 5, 2010 at 4:51 am #

    Assigning group generalizations to specific individuals is what sexism and racism are all about. It doesn’t matter that the majority of people locked up in US prisons are black: when you meet a black person, you don’t treat them like a potential criminal.

  180. SKL December 5, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    gramomster, I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  181. SKL December 5, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    marion, I trust my dad because I know how he is with little girls. Because he raised me and my sisters. That’s really not comparable to some guy off the street who happens to want a babysitting job. Nor just any male relative who I might not know that well.

    It’s not an unfair or offensive question. I would not expect YOU to want to hire my dad or leave him alone for hours with your daughter. I wouldn’t expect my dad to want to leave his little girl alone with some guy he doesn’t know, either.

    And Lihtox, it’s not like I go around treating men like pedophiles. I just quietly pass on the opportunity to hire one as a babysitter while my kids are little. Nobody needs to even know I’ve given it a moment’s thought. In fact, the only time this thought has come up is in discussions like this, because there are no men asking for the job around me.

  182. facie December 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    My brothers and I had a male, college-aged babysitter who for a year or two watched us some weekend nights. Barry also went on at least one family vacation with us. It never seemed weird to us or my parents, but in fairness, Barry’s mom did work for my parents at their store, so they knew him and the family well. He was great. A lot of fun. Ran into him two years ago at a funeral after not seeing him for probably 15 years.

    If I had several kids, including a boy, I would consider hiring a male sitter, but with one daughter, I honestly might not (can’t say for sure; have never really considered it).

  183. Stuart December 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    @pentamom

    “Of which a lot of them are “mom’s boyfriend.” Not legal or blood relatives, but part of the domestic situation.”

    This is a perfect example of statistics being able to justify blatant sexism.
    If a woman engages in a relationship with male that doesn’t share genes with her offspring, then she is placing them at increased risk of child abuse. Knowing this to be true, it is as reasonable to say that “everyone knows that single mothers let their kids get abused” as it is to say “males are more likely to be molesters”.

    I certainly don’t believe that single mothers are an inherent danger to their children – that is just lazy stereotyping (and it’s also incredibly insulting. Some care nothing for their own reputations I suppose). The Cinderella Effect is very real, very well documented, and it’s easy to look at the child abuse statistics everywhere and see that single mothers (and especially serial mothers, with multiple partners) are overrepresented in the statistics – all that is factual information, and *none* of it justifies discrimination against *all* single mothers for what *some* single mothers are responsible for.

    I assert that gender is not valid criteria for discrimination (Feminism was absolutely right about this point) – I expect people to be held to account for their actions, not their potential actions. As others have stated, discriminating against black people because they are black is outrageous in our society, yet there is easily statistical evidence that can be used (or rather misused) to justify it. Plenty of people are more than happy to simply ignore gender based discrimination because it suits their biases (and because there’s little direct cost to them for their bigotry – sexism against men is socially acceptable in society at this point).

    It is not valid to whip out a statistic to justify discrimination of individuals. It is not valid to reduce every member of a gender to a cardboard cut-out stereotype, that is sheer intellectual laziness. I’m not surprised that people think the way they do, being discriminatory is so much easier than not. Whilst there’s not much I can do beyond raise it for discussion, I certainly hope that one day the word misandrist is used with as much contempt on those who discriminate today as the word racist is on those who’s thinking never surpassed the 50’s and 60’s.

  184. enyawfce December 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Research has proven that statistically, brown eyed people are lazy and stupid, and they make the worst baby sitters for your chidlren.
    I saw it, it was on Oprah, so it ha be true.
    😀

  185. Stuart December 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    @Paula

    Equality is composed of two parts – equal opportunity and equal responsibility. The latter is the current challenge for feminism in my opinion.

    Standing shoulder to shoulder to fight for rights has been what feminists have been doing up to this point – but now that they’ve won the battle (and thank god they did), they are suddenly looking at who they are standing with, and they don’t always like what they see. Women are starting to judge others (including, critically, other women) on the criteria of true equality – it is what you say and do that counts far more than what’s between your legs.

    That is what true responsibility is: being responsible for your own conduct, and calling people out when you see them discriminate – not checking whether they’re on your team first and then selectively applying the rules for your own advancement (or the detriment of the other team).

  186. Tom December 5, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    If SKL wrote:

    “it’s not like I go around treating blacks differently. I just quietly pass on the opportunity to hire one. Nobody needs to even know I’ve given it a moment’s thought. In fact, the only time this thought has come up is in discussions like this, because there are no blacks asking for the job around me.”

    Would anyone think that is okay?

  187. SKL December 6, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    Tom, the fact is, that happens (with blacks – and women too) thousands of times a day, and everyone knows it. Of course it is wrong. I will note (in case someone decides, as often happens around here, that I am racist as well as sexist etc. etc.) that the first person I ever hired was a black man, and he was also the only person I ever promoted to management. And frankly, because I got to know him pretty well, including as a father of girls, I would feel quite comfortable leaving him alone with my daughters.

    Asking me to do something is one thing. Asking me to subject my daughters to something in the name of political correctness is something else entirely.

    Speaking of employment, not long ago a guy who happened to be in the clergy was denied a job as principal of a public school, only because some people thought he “might’ proselytize to the children. Why? Because obviously a man of the cloth would be unable to hold back his inner demon/angel (take your pick) regardless of the rules that apply to all principals, most of whom also happen to believe in some religion or other. As far as I know, that act of discrimination was allowed.

  188. Library Diva December 6, 2010 at 1:47 am #

    @ Oncefallendot com: Reagrding John Walsh’s analogy about a Doberman being more likely to bite than a poodle, he’s actually wrong there too.

    Untreated aggression in small dogs is a huge problem. A lot of times, they’re seen as accessories and not trained properly. Some owners even think it funny to see their fluffy little purse-sized dog flip out like that. People are often ashamed to report the bites for the same reason. They would take a bite from a Dobie, Akita or Rottie much more seriously, even though no dog bite feels good.

    Actually, maybe it is sort of an appropriate analogy, that people need to look beyond stereotypes to what’s actually in front of them. Don’t stereotype chihuahuas as sweet and harmless, look for signs of aggresion and stress, and if you see any, don’t fuck with the dog. And don’t stereotype males as creepy pedophiles and females as trustworthy: interview both, check their references, maybe even have a meet-and-greet with them and your kids with you present but not hovering so you can see how everyone responds to each other.

  189. enyawfce December 6, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    Of all the people who exploit children and have exploited their own child, John Walsh is #1 at the top of the list. I still full heartedly believe that man knows more about his son’s murder than he as ever admitted to. Too many things don’t add up.

  190. Cheryl W December 6, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    SKL, so in actuality, you would do exactly what people are suggesting here. You would hire a male (even minority) to watch your kids. The caveat being that…you would have to know them first.

    Me too. My criteria for having a sitter has a lot to do with actually knowing them, especially if they are younger, and knowing that if they are pretty young that they have parental support available as back up. I think that reasonable people here are suggesting that one should know the person, that one take into account their maturity level, that parents not leave their child with someone that they just met off the street. I wouldn’t take my child to a daycare and just drop them off. I want to make sure that they have reasonable amount of cleanliness and safety, that the kids have activities and toys to play with and not just sit in front of a TV all day.

    Vetting a babysitter is the same thing – I just don’t disqualify the better babysitter because that one happens to be male in favor of the less qualified female. You have given the impression that you would take the less qualified female over the better qualified male.

  191. SKL December 6, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    Cheryl, what I’ve tried to say is that in a case where I may be looking to hire a sitter whom I don’t know personally, I would narrow my search in the interest of time, and that would mean never getting to the point of an interview or reference check for the majority of candidates (assuming there were more than a handful). Yes, I would eliminate most of the candidates based on discrimination, based on experience, gut, and statistics. Depending on how many choices I had, I’d likely discriminate against the very young/inexperienced, the very old, those with concerning employement histories, those with concerning statements or photos in their brief resumes, and yes, probably males.

    So no, I’m not saying that if I knew a male and female candidate, I’d take a less qualified female over the more qualified male. Heck no; I’ve had many women offer to babysit and never called them, because I know them “too well.” But, I’d probably never get to the point of finding out whether or not a male candidate (whom I don’t know) is more qualified, because he’d be screened out before I got that far.

    I’m a very busy woman and I’m not running an employment agency. If I had time to interview and “get to know” every candidate, maybe things would be different.

    And yes, as unfortunate as it may be, I do believe that if where I do NOT know a candidate beyond just a resume, interview, and a couple of references, I do consider a female statistically less risky to sit with my preschool daughters. And sometimes that’s what I have to go with.

    I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve never had to hire a relative stranger to sit with my kids. But about a year ago, I started a search for a few backups just in case. I signed up for an online service along those lines. I got too busy to complete that search. But at the time, the whole point was to select someone I did not know to be alone with my kids. Of course I had hoped we could do some things together first so that ultimately I (and my kids) would “know” the person a little, but that’s not always possible.

  192. SKL December 6, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    My mom had the situation Cheryl was describing – a teen uncle vs. teen aunt to occasionally babysit her toddler boys. She gave each of them a try. Aunt, despite being older, was a miserable failure. Uncle did better, so he got the job. But again, Mom knew her brother.

  193. marion December 6, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    SKL, so you know your dad, and trust him. So did all the other mothers who have had their children molested by their own fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and close family friends. You know, the ones you ARE willing to leave your kids with.

    Those people you trust are much more likely, statistically, to molest your girls than my 12 yr old son, who happens to babysit.

    You are a sexist bigot, even if you don’t want to admit to it. The fact you once hired a black man doesn’t change that.

    Stop making excuses for your bigotry.

  194. Marie December 6, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    The best babysitter I have is male and of a different race than me. I love him more than words can describe! My son is high energy and very strong willed- he’s scared off more than one young ambitious woman. This man has no fear. He never raises his voice (which I do!) and my son thinks he’s the greatest thing ever. To tell you the truth, if he ever moves away I’ll be looking for another man to watch my son. It does help he’s a family friend, but it seems men work best for my son. (Our backup is a slightly crazy lesbian)

  195. SKL December 6, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    OK, I admit it, I am a bigot. I hate men, and I’m on a lifelong campaign to ruin them, starting at age 12. And yes, you are right, I put my kids in harm’s way on purpose by leaving them with my dad instead of a strange man, because I want to maximize the chances of my kids being raped. (After all, who isn’t aware of the statistic on family members molesting kids?) You guys are so smart. Besides that, it’s clear that men are better babysitters than women. Most of all, my kids are unsafe having me as a mom.

    You know, I feel like I’m on one of “those” parenting websites right now.

  196. SKL December 6, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    Hey, another thought just popped into my mind. How come we haven’t heard from any fathers of little girls, saying how often they hired males they didn’t know to babysit their daughters? Hello out there???

  197. Donna H December 6, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Hmmm. I was molested by a male cousin as a child. On the other hand, my favorite babysitter of all time was a male – a teenage older brother of one of our friends, who was absolutely marvelous.

    I would never choose not to hire a male babysitter based on his maleness. However, most of the young men around are not available to babysit. It’s a shame, really. I adored Brian and still do! And my cousin always set my teeth on edge. (Mom never let him babysit, he stayed with us for a summer.)

  198. SKL December 6, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Oh and by the way, would it be possible to have a discussion on this site without name-calling each other? I don’t know about you, but it tends to distract me from the points people are trying to make.

  199. Melanie December 6, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    I have a six year old and a three year old boy and they have had two regular babysitters in their life. Both were young men. One was a young, single man who works at their childcare centre and the other is a neighbour’s teenage son.

    Their gender was not a factor in them coming to babysit. It was purely a question of who was available, and what reason did we have to trust them? In the first case, the kids knew the childcare worker and loved him, and in the second, the teenager had babysat other neighbourhood kids without issue.

    But I’m quite happy to admit that I’m not completely trusting. At a couple of stages my elder son became uncharacteristically upset at the notion of being left alone with one of them and certainly, one of the possibilities I entertained is that there was something happening that shouldn’t have been. The other possibilities were that my son didn’t want us to go out, that the babysitter wouldn’t let him do what he wanted to do, or that he was just going through a shy stage. I asked him what the problems were, didn’t get any answers that rang any alarm bells, and next time we told him this guy was babysitting him he was totally over the moon about it.

    I think we have a responsibility to our kids to read their cues and be prepared to consider the possibility that someone is harming them. But what seems to be lacking these days is a sense of perspective. Yes, it COULD be that the babysitter is behaving inappropriately. But it is far more likely to be one of a dozen other issues. Reason and instinct need to work together when it comes to protecting your kids.

  200. enyawfce December 6, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    SKL,

    You know, mother’s in the wild DO eat their young, right? No harm there. 😛

  201. JLM December 6, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    At the Preschool I am Currently working at we have a pool that the preschoolers use everyday during the summer. This year we had a male life gaurd who also doubled as a teacher aide. Well you can Imagine we had a bunch of 2-4 year old kids that we had to change into and then out of bathing suits everyday and most of the time he was put in charge of changing the the little boys while the other teacher changed the girls or when it was the 5 year old he would be in charge of changing them all because they could mostly do it themselves. The preschool is very small only 3 teachers so having him around for this time was very helpful.
    We also used to leave him alone with the kids at nap time and don’t know if any of the parents knew about that but none of them seemed to have a problem with him being around the kids all day. And the little boys loved him because he would rough house with them He left at the end of the summer to go back to school.

  202. stacy December 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    I love your blog Lenore! This is one I struggle with because I was molested by a male babysitter. Totally fine with my father though, and my brother was a babysitter growing up also .. will definitely keep an open mind to it none-the-less.. I realize my situation isn’t the norm.

  203. Matt December 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    SKL – we have hired one for our infant daughter, another we talked to was uncomfortable with diapers (he is a good friend) so we certainly appreciated his honesty. We also leave her with other dads and cousins etc. No problems here – hope to raise a well-adjusted thoughtful individual.

  204. lonedattyof3 December 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    OMG, I used to babysit when I was a teen. I never thought of gender being an issue. Now, as a daddy, will I hire a male to watch my three girls? I don’t think so.

    No, wait! I already let my guy friends watch them–and they are all different colors. Crap, now I’m confused…..

  205. enyawface December 6, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    I thought this was free range ids, why are we even hiring baby sitters to begin with. Baby bottle. swiss army knife, cell phone, the kid’s good to go, see ya 10 hours kiddo…….

  206. Matt L. December 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    NOOOO! The cell phone will make them stupid – try messenger pigeons.

  207. Lihtox December 7, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    @SKL: For my part, it was never my intention to attack *you*; but I disagree with your position and am not afraid to say so in the name of debate. I don’t think you’re a bad person or a bad parent, and I salute your concern for your kids.

    I’m a dad with a daughter, and to be honest, she’s only ever had female babysitters because only women have ever applied for the job. And I don’t know, but maybe I would think twice about hiring a man for the job, just as you do; but I wouldn’t be proud of it.

    And of course, maybe men don’t apply for babysitting jobs because they know no one will hire them, which makes male babysitters rare, which makes a man who does babysit look suspicious, which makes people not willing to hire men to babysit, which…. So many societal woes are based on vicious cycles like that one.

  208. Lihtox December 8, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    @enyawface: I love it! Someone needs to make a baby onesie: “Gotta bottle, gotta knife, gotta phone…who needs babysitters?”

  209. enyawface December 8, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    Lihtox, lol

  210. sg December 9, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    As someone who worked with youth charged with sexual offenses for over 10 years, about 70% were male babysitters. It is often a crime of opportunity. I have two children, and never will I have a male babysitter. Sad? Maybe. Safer-yup.

  211. Jen December 9, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    @sg – same experience here and I have the same opinion. But I got jumped on for that. Good luck!

  212. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    @sg Been there done that myself. You say charged, how many were actually convicted. Or are u in another one of those states were all they have to do is say the kid did something and they can take him and put him away?
    What 20years ago was considered, boys being boys, or simple child’s play, is today, children abusing children. Ask yourself, how can a child at one moment be a victim because they can not consent, but then the same child can be labeled a pedophile for committing the same act they can’t consent to?
    One of the many reasons I got out of the this line of work, it is a product of the Femi-Nazi movement, all males are guilty because they are males.
    In Utah, 2 14yo’s are both victims of “sexual abuse” for having consensual sex with each other, they are both also registered sex offenders for committing a sex act with a minor, each other
    In Illinois a 14yo boy was sentenced to one year in a sex offenders program for adults, during that year he was sexually assaulted by adult males in the program 4 times. The reply of the prosecutor, the boy got his treatment. The offense that sent the boy to the program, A reactionary punch to a female student, the punch happened to hit her breast. She weighed 145 lbs, he weighed 90 lbs. The reactionary punch was made after she taunted him in the hallway and punched him in the genitals, she was never charged. The prosecutor, was a female. This is what we do to our boys today.

  213. Stuart December 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    I love the fact that having an opinion is supposed to be enough. Especially when it comes to prejudging and discriminating against half the population. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that they’d only consider that good enough for themselves and their opinions.

    Nobody’s asking the scared misandrists to put their children in the care of people they don’t trust – some of us just find it a little unfortunate that their measure of trust is primarily what genitals the sitter has, and not something with more merit or rigour behind it.

    If people wish to boldly and loudly proclaim their bigotry and discrimination against a particular group, there’s little I can do to stop them. You hope that you can engage them, but ultimately, you have to accept that fervent hatred comes from the heart – and it cannot be defeated by logic or reason when it isn’t based there.

  214. SKL December 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    Stuart, “fervent hatred”? Have you checked in with a shrink lately?

    enyawface, we now have at least 2 people here saying they have spent quality time with these young men, yet you insist they are operating based on fiction or fantasy. Pointing out one case where the justice system screwed up doesn’t disprove all the other cases, particularly those in the personal experience of posters here.

    Finally, I note that out of all the over 200 comments here, just one was from a dad who let a man babysit his little girls and MAYBE didn’t know the guy well first (he didn’t say one way or the other). On the other hand, a number of women have stated they’ve used male babysitters for their daughters. So if this is hate-based, I guess men hate men. Oh, and some of the comments above by men against women sound pretty hateful, too.

    PS, I don’t think anyone here is “proud” of the concerns we have stated. “Honest” seems a more accurate word. In fact, my first comment began with “here is where I am weak.”

    But please don’t waste another comment post just to call me names again. We all know I’m a sexist, hateful bigot already.

  215. Stuart December 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    @SKL

    A person that objects to perceived slights whilst dishing them out probably lacks the insight to understand any rational appeals.

    You give people the benefit of the doubt that they are capable of conducting themselves in a discourse – sometimes they are not (and to be fair, when a person openly declares a discriminatory position as their first statement, you know it’s going to be an uphill battle at best). What can you do beyond give them the opportunity and hope for the best?

  216. Tom December 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Look, bigotry is not okay. It’s not okay to be a private bigot, and it’s not okay to be a public bigot. Bigotry is offensive, which is why so many people in this forum are offended.

    If it is okay for you to reject hiring men and boys as babysitters just because they are male, then it’s okay for me to reject hiring women as engineers because women aren’t as good at math. (And yes, the SAT data does suggest that, for large populations, men are a little better than women.)

    It’s not okay. The woman I interview today may be much better at math than the man I interview tomorrow. She may have other skills that also make her a better fit for my position. Assuming that she’s less qualified, just because she lacks a penis, is offensive.

    Assuming that men may be perverts because there are more male than female perverts (particularly when male perverts are small fraction of the population) is equally, perhaps even more offensive, and it’s not okay either.

    So the reason you hear outrage is because your position is outrageous. The reason you hear people taking offense is because your position is offensive.

    We shouldn’t tolerate discrimination against women simply because they are female. It’s demeaning, short-sighted, narrow-minded offensive behavior.

    And that’s not true just for women.

  217. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    @Tom, someone finally gets it. There are still people with reading comprehension skills.

  218. SKL December 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    Maybe there would be more peace on this thread if Lenore had said, “please share your views if you’d hire a male babysitter under the circumstances I described, and keep quiet if you wouldn’t.”

    Wow, it’s really amazing that the world seems to be full of people who never discriminate under any circumstances (based on the comments here, at least). I would not have known this by looking around myself.

  219. Tom December 10, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    So let me be clear: I discriminate all the time. I discriminate between people who are good at math, for example, and those that aren’t. I only hire engineers that are good at math.

    I make that decision based on evaluating the skills and experience of the candidate in front of me. I try very hard not to make the decision based on how old they are, or how good looking they are, or what part of the world their great-grandparents came from.

    Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I’m very aware that I like some body types more than others, and that I need to check my assumptions about people.

    The fact that I sometimes make errors doesn’t make the errors correct.

  220. Jen December 10, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    And you cannot compare hiring someone for a job to hiring someone to care for your children. If you hire the wrong person at work, maybe they make some mistakes. If you hire the wrong person to care for your child….well, you all know what CAN happen. It’s not about what WILL happen.

    It all comes down to risk assesment. And I cannot judge yours anymore than you can judge mine-you have not lived the same life experiences I have. I am not putting my kids’ safety in the hands of statistics when it comes to sexual molestation. That happens FAR more than kidnapping and murder. Far more than any of you know.

  221. Tom December 10, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    E. Simms posted links that have some very interesting implications, both in percentages and in absolute numbers.

    More women than men are abusers, and there are nearly as many fatalities as sexual abuses.

    So your choice, in choosing between a man and a woman, is whether you want your kid sexually abused, or dead.

    That’s ridiculous, of course. Most men aren’t perverts, and most women aren’t killers. But an appeal to “the statistics” won’t help you with your bigotry.

  222. Jen December 10, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    Do I need to describe, in detail, the things I have heard these teenage molestors describe to get all of you to understand the trauma that it inflicts on a mother with young daughters? If I were to leave my daughters with a male babysitter, I would NOT be able to get those images out of my head, but you all want me to ignore it because I am being bigoted? Try a little realism here…

  223. SKL December 10, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    Tom, it is absolutely untrue that “there are nearly as many fatalities as sexual abuses.” Either you are reading the data wrong or it’s extremely bad data.

  224. Tom December 10, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    Yep, you’re right. I misread the numbers. I apologize.

    1344 fatalities, versus 68,000 sex abuses, and about twice that in physical abuse. 540,000 neglect cases.

  225. SKL December 10, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    Tom,

    I’m not worried about “neglect” since my kids are pretty self-sufficient, and I wouldn’t leave them with a babysitter for a long enough period that they could be harmed by neglect. Not sure how “physical abuse” is defined. Permanent / severe damage? Or a whack on the butt? My kids know what a whack on the butt is and that’s not likely to scar them (or, if it is, they are already scarred).

    I’d also point out that if we’re talking about severe physical abuse by babysitters, that’s more likely to be reported by the victim (or discovered by the parents) than sexual abuse.

  226. Matt L. December 10, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Jen – would it be wrong for me to say that because I was depansed and spanked by a female babysitter as a child in front of my brother that I will not hire women? That is my life experience and it’s just not practical. We all have life experiences to explain our positions but need to understand the ramifications of our words and actions. Your position offends some (me) and I say so. You and SKL use victimhood as umbrage for prejudice. I understand where it comes from and I disagree with the result. I am disheartened that you and SKL think having a penis is a disqualification for employment and it really (obviously) upset me.

  227. Matt L. December 10, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    yes, it is a job and in some jobs people die if someone screws up. I’m thinking of belaying, mining, window washing, etc. guess it;s ok to repeal all the laws on the books about discrimination?

    “And you cannot compare hiring someone for a job to hiring someone to care for your children. If you hire the wrong person at work, maybe they make some mistakes. If you hire the wrong person to care for your child….well, you all know what CAN happen. It’s not about what WILL happen.”

  228. Jen December 10, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    And comparing a bare-bottomed spanking to sexual molestation is the most offensive thing posted on here so far.

  229. Jen December 10, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    I guess I’m just selfish to care more about my own kids’ safety than I do about being PC.

  230. enyawface December 10, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    However, in your selfish “caring” what are you really teaching your children about men, and by denying them the exposure to trusted males, just because they are males and have a penis and may harm your child, what harm are you yourself doing to your daughter who is a future women, and whether you like it or not, will someday have to face exposure to the male’s in this world. You can wrap your daughters in a bubble and try to protect them from all of the “what-if’s” in the world, but some day that bubble will burst.
    I know that I myself, would rather have an enlightened and empowered child than a neurotic and fearful one.
    As a victim of abuse, it does effect the choices you make in your life and the lives of those you are responsible for. However, you can choose to live your life in fear and make those choices in fear, allowing your abuser to win, or you can choose to live life, enjoy it, and empower your self and those around you. ( If you want to hear abuse stories and a reason to resent males and believe they are the scum of the earth, let me tell you about my childhood and my life story. I chose empowerment and triumph over being a victim.)

  231. Jen December 10, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    Don’t dare to presume that you think you know what I teach my daughters. Firstly, my daughters don’t KNOW that I wouldn’t hire a male babysitter. Secondly, and more importantly, not only did they know what I did for a living, they KNEW the boys and met them. And what they were told was that these boys did bad things, but were NOT bad kids. They had an illness and we were making them better.

    I have done far more to teach my kids acceptance than almost any other parent I know. And they certainly already know that men are to be trusted and loved, as they have many wonderful men in their lives.

  232. enyawface December 10, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Your comments posted thus far would not lead one to presume otherwise.

  233. Jen December 10, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Do you all involve your children in all your parenting decisions? Or do you sometimes make decisions without consulting them? I have never once told my kids I wouldn’t hire a male babysitter.

    In fact, I have had only a handful of occasions where my kids have HAD a babysitter and it has always been family members.

  234. enyawface December 10, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    Again though, why are we still talking about hiring baby sitters? I thought we solved that issue. Baby bottle, swiss army knife, cell phone…… The kids all set, who needs baby sitters?

  235. enyawface December 10, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    “Do you all involve your children in all your parenting decisions? Or do you sometimes make decisions without consulting them? I have never once told my kids I wouldn’t hire a male babysitter.”
    That would depend on the maturity of the child and the appropriateness of their involvement in the decision to be made.
    In the case of hiring a baby sitter, I would definitely involve them in the decision. This after all is someone they are going to have to spend an abundance of time with, and they most definitely should have a say in that. If it is simply a companion, I would want someone who they are comfortable with, but I trust. If on the otherhand, it was a disciplinary issue that required a baby sitter while I was away, I may not necessarily want one of their adult friends that they can can get by with things with.

  236. enyawface December 10, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    If I were in the position of having to interview babysitters, I would include my children in the interview and get their opinion as well. If it progressed to a point that I might hire that individual, there would definitely be some supervised interaction between them and my child before hiring them, and my child’s opinion would play into the decision.

  237. Jen December 10, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    And would you also introduce your kids to the people who didn’t pass the initial screening and tell them why they won’t be your babysitter? I doubt it.

  238. SKL December 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    So girls who don’t have male babysitters grow up to be wimps? I don’t think so. I never had one and I was a lot more daring than any of my brothers or most of the boys (or girls) in town. My kids have never had one and they are pretty independent for their age.

    It sounds good to say that exposing your kid to this or that is going to make them a certain way, but there are far too many competing inputs into a girl’s development. Genetics, first of all; then, their moms’ demostrated confidence, how their dad treats them and their mom – that’s probably 99% of it right there. The % of impact made by whether or not the mom embraced the idea of male babysitters for little girls? Probably about the same as my passing them over makes on the overall male unemployment rate. Effectively zero.

    Like Jen said, it’s not like we sit our girls down and say “the reason I am not leaving you alone with __ is because he might try to molest you.” And it’s not like they have no positive male role models. But you say that’s not enough? At what point in human history has it been considered essential to have young girls holed up alone with males?

  239. SKL December 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    When I said in the previous post “my kids never had one” I was referring to males outside of our close friend/family circle.

  240. Matt L. December 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Jen, come on – it is not a direct comparison I am telling you my life experience. People compared a woman beating the crap out of a child to sexual molestation which is apples to oranges as well.

    I’m thankful my life has been less traumatic than yours.

  241. sg December 11, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Hi enyawface: Regarding my work, all were convicted (probation in community with supervision). I worked with youth whose offenses ranged from touching, to as intrusive as it gets with multiple victims. I am in Canada, so a bit different, as have national legislation. Just my opinion–these were ‘good kids’ from good families in a position of trust who offended again and again while babysitting. I can’t get past that. Not for my children, thank you.

  242. Nicole December 14, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Holy majolies, what’s with all the hate? Sorry about everyone who was molested as children but stop attacking people on the comments section!!

  243. Cireeleda January 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Raised by a single Mother, I didn’t have any males around while growing up, and I wish I did. After my Dad left with 4 sisters I only knew women, and lived with women. I wish I had an opportunity to get to know males earlier. Maybe it would have saved me years worth of pain in relationships with them? LOL. Something great to help ALL parents and kids alike though is http://www.myeess.com. Check it out.

  244. PJ April 17, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    Although I’ve not read through the whole loads of comments, I finally had to respond after SKL’s sexist, idiotic, vile post.

    I was sexually abused – by two males. But unlike YOU, SKL, I don’t project my experience onto others. If I did: all black men would be suspect (I’ve been attacked by black men before and threatened on other ocassions), all women would be out of the question (I am curently in two nursery placements and the women (generally – there’s been one exception that I’ve seen) get frustrated very easily and hardly get involved with the children except to ocassionally have a hug FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT and to kiss a child (weirdly, on the lips sometimes – something I think should be reserved for family and close friends even if it just a peck)), and white people would be out of the question as my abusers were white. I also wouldn’t trust any family member or close friends as statistically most abusers are family.

    Perhaps the worst thing about your extremely offensive posts is that you are encouraging little boys to be brought up as second class citizens who, according to your views, are likely to be perverts when they grow up.

    It’s also bad that you don’t even recognise that what people are saying to you is true, yet instead try to separate two things that are exactly the same, just worded different (like trying to separate “wouldn’t take the risk” from “men are likely to sexually abuse my child” – it’s the same thing). You have some serious maturing to do.

    And do you realise that by your prejudices (which your children WILL notice even if you don’t say them openly), you are teaching your children that men outside the family are bad and that men are supposed to be bad and that that’s what girls should expect from men? Whereas the children in one of the nurseries I do a placement at (the other is rubbish) see good male role models (there are at least 3 men there including myself) and know therefore how men are supposed to behave and would therefore likely challenge badly behaved men when older.

    You disgust me. I wouldn’t trust YOU near my kids if I had any – you’d likely let them run into the road than let a man stop them, due to your paranoia.

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