Our serious commitment to safeguarding children is well documented so I find myself in the extraordinary position of advocating against a supposed way of keeping our children safe.
Companies are springing up selling license plates for strollers and prams, enabling the public to report their observations of Nannies in action. If Joe Public is witness to anything they wish to share they can contact the website on the number-plate and place their report which then gets sent straight to the parent.
Whilst it would be lovely to think cute messages would pop up about how adorable the combo of Nanny and child are, lets get real, they are never going to appear. Instead it enables a bunch of complete strangers with who-knows-what views about, and understanding of child-rearing to enter your life. Ask yourself when considering these products, are these faceless informers likely to be witnesses willing to stand up in court if, God forbid, something happened or merely remain anonymous observers leaving you with a huge conundrum and a possible lawsuit if you wrongly accuse someone of a criminal act? And how precisely are you supposed to react if you receive an untoward message? Do you alert the Nanny, who incidentally will be in sole charge of your child until you get to the scene of the incident, or do you play it cool and pray everything is okay until you get home.
Professional Nannies I am told aren’t fussed and have a rather ‘bring it on’ attitude as they are confident about their skills and behavior but I don’t think they are considering sufficiently the potential for malicious reports without foundation.
Allowing the public to become a roving Big Brother group sounds so smart on paper but leaves me with more concern than relief. I’m not naïve I know there are unprofessional, untrained people out there who should NEVER be left with other peoples children – who do not have the right to call themselves Nanny – a professional title. But lets be clear they should never have been employed in the first place as sole charge child carers.
Playing into parent’s fears is not a solution. Choosing an appropriate Nanny is.
Only employ a trained, police checked, properly interviewed and thoroughly referenced childcarer. Part of their training involves being observed by professionals who will, as well as assess their skills, observe whether they have the right temperament to be left alone with other peoples children and the right attitude about why they have chosen caring for children as their profession.
So whilst I appear to be advocating against something that could keep children safe, I am instead suggesting a tried, tested and reliable solution.