Last week Lynn Perkins, CEO and co-founder of UrbanSitter.com, wrote a Huffington Post article titled Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Hiring a Male Babysitter. In the article, she lays out 3 reasons why parents should consider hiring a “mitter.” They are:
#1: It brings diversity to your child’s life and allows you to do your part to break down gender biases.
#2: They bring a different style of play.
#3: It’s an opportunity to provide your kids with a valuable male role model.
It didn’t take long for other articles to surface, praising this move to hire “mitters” and “mannies.” The push to hire the “manny” (male nanny) has been popularized in New York City. There is an increased demand in male sitters and nannies, and this is for a number of reasons. As I skim articles and comments, there seems to be a demand primarily because people don’t want to be labeled “sexist.” In fact, Perkins’ first reason to hire a “mitter” is that “it brings diversity to your child’s life and allows you to do your part to break down gender biases.” Allows you to do your part to break down gender biases? This very statement shows that we have lost the ability to look at differences between men and women objectively. Do we really need to hire a male baby sitter to “do our part” in breaking down the biases? If we objectively look at men and women who sexually abuse children, the facts themselves produce biases. Listen to what the famed Corey and Steve Jensen have to say:
The FBI estimates that there is a sex offender living in every square mile of the United States. One in ten men has molested children. Most child molesters are able to molest dozens of children before they are caught and have a three percent (3%) chance of being apprehended for their crimes. Boys and girls are at nearly equal risk to be abused and almost a quarter will be molested sometime before their 18th birthday. Fewer than five percent (5%) will tell anyone.1
I offer 3 reasons why people should not hire “mitters”:
#1 Men are far more likely to sexually abuse children than women
It sounds sexist, I know. But the facts speak louder than our self-righteous need to not sound like a misandrist. Estimates vary. Anywhere from 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 men have sexually abused children. In contrast, 1 in 3,300 women has sexually abused children (Abel & Harlow, The Stop Child Molestation Book, 2001, pg. 23). It is common knowledge that a person is far more likely to die in a car than in an airplane. We don’t cry foul at this finding because statistics prove it. Statistics should speak louder than our agendas. Statistically speaking, your child is far more likely to be abused by a male than a female. That does not mean that all males are sex offenders, or that women will never sexually abuse a child. It simply means that hiring a man puts your children at far greater risk of being abused.
#2 Background checks and trust make your family a prime target for sex offenders
The vast majority of sex offenders have never had any previous criminal background, making background checks a source of false security. I’ve read blog after blog and comment after comment touting “mitters” as something great–as long as you trust the person taking care of your kids. It is precisely because of trust that child abusers are empowered to abuse. When we completely trust people, our guards go down. My dad, who is currently serving a life sentence for child molestation, was a “manny.” I can tell you firsthand that he was the guy EVERYONE trusted. He passed background checks. He had glowing letters of recommendation. He was not socially awkward. Kids loved being around him. He was fun, kind, and caring. In short, he was the ideal guy to hire to watch your kids! But there’s something else we need to be aware of. Pedophiles who want to offend children will find opportunities to win the trust of others and gain access to children.
#3 Pedophiles find the path of least resistance
With the surge in “mitters” and “mannies,” pedophiles see an opportunity to gain access to children. How great is it for the offender to know that people are actively searching for male sitters? While I agree that men need to play an important role in children’s lives, I don’t think that person should be a hired baby sitter who has unlimited access to our children. The statistics are just too grim to open up that door. There is only a 3% chance of a child molester getting caught for any 1 instance of abuse, less than 5% of children ever tell when they are abused, and 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 men have molested a child.
These are reason enough not to hire a male sitter. You can argue that this will “ruin it” for the men who are not child molesters (and I don’t doubt that there are plenty of sitters who are not molesters). But, frankly, I’d rather ruin it for them than ruin something far worse for my children. Losing an opportunity for a job is not quite as devastating as a child losing his innocence to a predator.