Earlier this month a twenty year old baby sitter was charged with murder. Initially she had claimed that her twenty month old charge had fallen in the bathtub. But two days later, the baby died due to head trauma which was rule inconsistent with a fall and the babysitter was charged with murder.
This is, to say the least, a tragic event. Thankfully it is a also a rare one. While the media is whipped into a frenzy over this latest incident of babysitter abuse, and are full of warnings about trusting anyone with your baby, the truth is: this is a rare incident and with common sense, you can trust your babysitter. The key thing to remember is the newspaper maxim: if it bleeds it leads. Media outlets know that stories like these cause people to listen or click for more information. Therefore they publish as many as possible: Child blinded by stray snowball, Child kidnapped in Park, Child killed by trusted Babysitter. No one reads the headline: Babysitter cares for Child a successful three hours. So instead the media search for the most sensational stories they can find and blast it all over the front page.
The real tragedy is the effect this has on the public. Incidents like this may be far and few between, but when they are constantly broadcast and go through the media machine for days, our brains begin to have trouble discerning what real dangers are out there. We stop thinking that this is a rare event and start thinking that all babysitters are potential killers. The message from the media is we must go to extremes to protect our kids instead of using common sense.
With this mindset, we stop trusting people. People offering help are written off as potential child abusers, not allies. And when people stop trusting, they stop accepting help, they stop connecting with potential allies. Trusting people is part of belonging to a community. It is this trust that makes us safer: when we are connected to the larger community, everyone looks out for each other. And that is safer than any nanny camera available.