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BBSDTfamily's avatar

Can I Legally Videotape Our Babysitters?

Asked by BBSDTfamily (6737 points ) July 7th, 2009

The idea of trusting someone to watch our child while we’re gone frightens me, but I know it is something we’re going to have to do. Does anyone know if it is legal to have hidden cameras, maybe in the living room and child’s room to be sure that our child is being treated properly? Would I have to let the babysitter know about this?

I live in Mississippi, in case anyone knows any particular law pertaining to MS….

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26 Answers

Bobbydavid's avatar

I doubt you can without telling the sitter first.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Here are some articles that talk about videotaping babysitters:

The Parents Zone (videotaping information is near the end of the article)

Are ‘nanny cams’ a violation of babysitters’ rights?

Sitter Surveillance

Babysitter surveillance and hidden cameras

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s not like having a hidden camera in the bathroom.
Your work has hidden cameras on you at various times and that’s legal.

RareDenver's avatar

I think you need to lighten up and realise that not every other person you meet is a serial killer/rapist/child abuser.

Just make sure you leave them with someone you know and trust. If it’s a teen then try and get to know their parents too. Or speak to other couples they have sat for.

There are a surprising number of basically decent people in the world believe it or not.

YARNLADY's avatar

Having what is known as a Nanny Cam is very common. The regulations vary in different areas, so check with your local building/zoning department, or better business bureau to find out what is required in your local area.

psyla's avatar

Can I legally videotape the neighbor’s children when they come over to vandalize my property if their father is a policeman?

YARNLADY's avatar

@psyla perhaps you should ask your own question

psyla's avatar

It was a rhetorical question. What abuse do we have to tolerate yet be legally unable to acquire evidence for justice?The convenience store videotapes us every day, yet we can’t legally videotape child abusers & vandals destroying our own household? But it’s OK to shoot & kill a burglar. How ridiculous it is when we’re legally not allowed to defend ourselves from the destruction caused by criminals.

YARNLADY's avatar

@psyla I haven’t seen any evidence of what you are saying. In fact, there are tapes of vandals shown on the local news nearly every day, asking for the public to identify these people and turn them in to the police.

Bobbydavid's avatar

What are you defending? Has something happened or are you wanting something to happen to your children? Tempting fate is a dangerous game to play

psyla's avatar

I agree with @Bobbydavid, Fate easily succumbs to temptation. The famous words were: “I have a bad feeling about this.”

MissAusten's avatar

I think @RareDenver has a good point. The odds of you hiring a babysitter that turns out to be abusive are pretty low if you just take some basic steps to find someone trustworthy. Ask for references, get to know the sitter, and trust your instincts. If you do have a sitter at some point that you feel you should be monitoring, it means the sitter should be replaced.

If you hire a teen to babysit, maybe consider having that teen spend the first few sitting sessions with you nearby, like doing gardening or office work. You can keep an eye on how the sitter interacts with your child, give the sitter a chance to get to know your child, and learn enough to decide if this is someone you can trust alone with your child. When I was a kid, this is how most of my babysitting jobs started, with me playing with the child while the parents got some work done around the house.

I’m sorry, I don’t know about the legalities of it, but Nanny Cams seem to be widely available and I know I’ve seen news stories where a sitter was “caught” because of one.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The reason why I chose a church run day care center instead of having someone in my home or taking my child to someone’s house was based upon trust. In a center, people are coming and going all day long. Other parents at the center have the same vesting interest you do, and the directors generally have degrees in early childhood development. Not to mention the expenditure is tax deductible without having to pay social security taxes on an employee.

I can’t imagine anyone I would have in my home to care for an infant or young child would do it in a manner that was satisfactory to me if I had to watch it. Mary Poppins does not exist.

seekingwolf's avatar

Yes, you can legally videotape nannies. The cameras are in your home and aren’t breaking any laws. People are videotaped all the time without their knowledge and this is no different.

It’s not only about protecting kids from abusive nannies, or nannies that steal things/abuse the phone/internet…it’s also about seeing how they discipline and treat the child. What if you caught on videotape the nanny letting the kid watch TV that’s not appropriate for him? What if she a discipline method that you felt was too harsh/not harsh enough? there are many things to look out for.

If I were a parent, I would secretly videotape the nanny a few times to make sure that she’s the sort of babbysitter that I want for my child. After a while, I would just take the tapes down. Trust established.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think you should be up front about the camera situation. For one, it’s kind of unfair to the person who is 100% good, who treats your kids well, doesn’t steal, etc. Secondly, you’d have to wait to catch the person doing something bad in order to confront them, but by then the bad thing has already happened (your kid abused, valuables stolen). If you let them know in advance, they have to be on their best behavior from the get-go.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@RareDenver
I am going to assume you do not have children…

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a good parent and protect your child, especially when you child is not old enough to even talk and tell you if something is going on. Having a camera in the house doesn’t mean I assume I have a child abuser in the house, but other things are possible like having a boyfriend over or just sleeping through the night!

FiRE_MaN's avatar

yeah its legal! especially if its your own house. you would have to hide them well if you don’t want them to know though… and i wouldn’t leave my kids with someone i didn’t trust so you might just want to leave them with a family member if thats possible.

RareDenver's avatar

@BBSDTfamily having a camera in the house, in my opinion, is going beyond wanting to be a good parent and protect your child and is horrible behaviour. Society has become so over suspicious it depresses me. People should take sensible precautions in life but let’s also try and respect each other.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is why I don’t hire nannies, ever.

MissAusten's avatar

We’ve never hired a babysitter. My in-laws almost always babysit for us since they live nearby. We’ve also had our younger cousins babysit from time to time (college kids), an aunt here and there, and sometimes a family friend. Always someone we know well.

To be completely honest, I would hesitate to have a teenager or someone who doesn’t know my kids well babysit because my kids are a handful. I don’t know if there’s a teen out there who could handle them (think of Calvin and Hobbes and what that poor sitter went through). Deep down I know things would probably be fine, but I prefer to have family stay with the kids because they know our rules, they know our kids well enough to manage them, and are mature enough to handle any kind of situation. I imagine myself at age 12, when I first started babysitting, trying to manage a group of three kids like ours and just cringe. I love my kids, but they are too much like my husband to just unleash on some unsuspecting babysitter.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@RareDenver That argument just doesn’t make sense when you’re talking about an infant. When it’s your house, your belongings, and your child, respecting one another goes out the window. When you’re a parent, your children come first, not a babysitter’s privacy.

If you ever have children, I really hope you change your thinking for their sake. Or just let someone else make the decisions.

rottenit's avatar

IANAL (I am not a lawyer)

Honestly I would contact a lawyer, I worked as a security consultant mostly dealin with covert CCTV video systems.

I know its in your own home but, sometimes the laws in various areas can be pretty screwy.

The other thing that will really mix things up is if you add audio monitoring/recording into the mix, in some places the video is not an issue but the audio part is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

ianal, lol..i use that acronym too, in different situations

RareDenver's avatar

@BBSDTfamily I was merely pointing out the fact that you seem to take the starting point that people are guilty before they have even done anything. Oh and there is no need to try and turn this around and make insinuations about my parenting skills just because I am not as neurotic as you.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

[Mod says] I understand that when our kids are involved our emotions get going but let’s steer clear of inflammatory rhetoric please.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Thank you.

@RareDenver You assume that’s the “starting point”, but you’re wrong. I don’t assume people are guilty, I just live in the real world and know that however unlikely, bad things do happen sometimes. If it ever did happen to my child, I’d want to know that I did everything I could to protect them.

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