Nanny Bothered by Brothers' Inappropriate Behavior

opinion 1
Hi there, I really need some advice. I recently started working with a family of two boys. At first, I really enjoyed my job, and the money is decent, but lately things have been getting not only hard, but very weird as well. I am chronically ill and my health is deteriorating. My employers know of this, and although they seem to care, they don't seem to understand the seriousness. I'll be having surgery to repair some back problems and also a knee surgery in the next 5 months. I have been trying to imply that I am too sick to work any longer, but my comments fall on deaf ears. MB is one of those "fake nice" people who will say something that seems harmless but definitely has some rudeness behind it. She has judged my parents (having never met them) and my upbringing, questioned my diagnosis's, and practically ignored my concerns about the children.

Since I started working there, I've noticed that the boys (4 and 9) are extremely close. No arguing, fighting or rough housing. Instead they cuddle, sit on each others laps, dance together, and kiss. I was a little suspicious at first, but the parents assured me "that's just how brothers are." I have nannied for several families before this, and have several cousins and a brother, and I have never seen kids act like this. Yesterday, I was talking to the 4 year old, and he told me some very disturbing things that his brother makes him do, if you know what I mean. I got physically ill and could not look the older child in the eyes. I have never had to deal with anything like this before. I was absolutely shocked. I struggled for hours about what to do next. I decided to tell DB about what the child told me. He didn't seem concerned whatsoever, and he made it seem like he didn't believe me. I was very upset.

Today I found myself watching them very closely and keeping the young one around me at all times. I just feel horrible. The older one told him it was "exercise" and that it was a secret. I asked my mom for advice, as she has been around children her whole life. She told me to get the money they owe me and quit immediately. I do want to quit for a few different reasons, but I can't seem to find the words (or guts) to do it. I'm so conflicted because it's not necessarily the parent's fault, and I know that younger kids do experiment as they don't really know what they're doing. But the oldest is 9. He should know better. DB made alot of excuses for what might be going on... "boys will be boys" "it's probably a silly game they made up" "completely harmless." I honestly don't feel that way, and I know in my gut what's been going on. It's very obvious and like I said, I had some initial concern.

What would you do in this situation? It's a very strange environment, and I'm extremely uncomfortable working there now. I am in my 20's so I don't have too much insight on this situation. Any help would be appreciated.


hecticnanny said...

report it. report it to the school, the police, dss, just report it

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I agree w/the above poster. Since you mentioned it to the parents and they didn't do anything, I would take further action and report it to CPS, etc. This poor 4-yr old needs an advocate and he most definitely is not getting one from within his own family. How sad. :( Also, I would do what your mother advised, get your last payment and quit immediately. (If you get a check, make sure it clears through the bank.)

Nannycaroline said...

I agree, report it asap, and also leave. If they can't be bothered to really realize and care what is happening with their sons, and also about your health, you don't need to be around them.

canadian nanny said...

I don't know the laws where you are, but in Canada everyone who works with children is a "mandated reporter". This means that they are legally obligated to report even the smallest suspicion of any form of child abuse. (Report to the police, CPS etc.) I would guess that there are similar laws where you are.

You may also want to talk to the 4 year old again and see if you can get more details. Be very calm and relaxed when you speak to him. It's important that you don't give him any indication that what he is saying upsets you or he will be less willing to share. You should tell him though that brotehrs are not supposed to treat each other like that, and the next time it happens he should go tell his mom or dad. Perhaps if they hear it from him they will be more willing to take action.

Sarah NY said...

Check it out. By your occupation you are a mandated reporter. Please report this immediately to child welfare or the police, whichever is required in your state. leaving it be and quitting will subject the 4yrold to a horrible future and no way to get out as his parents think this is totally normal. You may not be his only 'out' but you are the first and most important to his future.

another nanny said...

Without a doubt, report this to Children's Services (you can usually find the hotline number online as well as a FAQ about making reports). You told the parents what's going on, and now they are failing to protect the younger child. I would also be concerned that you could face consequences for not reporting, since the child stated these things directly to you.
In addition to making a report, I would collect what money you're owed and then leave immediately. You can cite your health if you're not comfortable talking about all the reasons. Just say, "due my upcoming surgery and deteriorating health, I'm going to have to leave right away. I'd like to collect my final paycheck today. Thank you for the opportunity to work with your family." Or something like that. Bring a reference letter outlining your job responsibilities, etc, and ask them to sign it, but if they won't, don't let that stop you.

Hope your health improves.

Bre said...

Please please report this before goes any further.

Both boys could be victims of abuse and you may be the only one who can get it to stop.

unicornsparkleprincess said...

i know it can feel uncomfortable to bring this stuff up, but you just have to do something about this. you can't just quit either...i know i couldn't live with myself if i didn't do something.
i would bring it up to the parents again with this new information about the 'secret activities' and say how concerning this behavior truly is. if they brush it off again, YOU HAVE TO REPORT THIS. this CANNOT go unnoticed.

unicornsparkleprincess said...

i mean, do you remember why joe paterno was in trouble?
it is your responsibility whether or not it is what you prefer. when you signed up for this job, you became a caregiver and caretaker. now do it! i know i just commented, but it makes me sick and so sad to think that you might just quit and not do anything about it. if anything, report it anonymously.

OP said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I am in the process of reporting this and doing something to make it stop. I knew something was wrong within the first week I was there. I quit already and stated my health as the reason. I managed to get some more information out of the younger one before I left so I'll be able to give a more detailed report. Something very disturbing happened on my last day. I found the two boys playing with an obvious sex toy, and when I asked what they were doing, the older one gave me a very snobby look and said "we do this ALL the time." This sort of clinched it for me, as I was rethinking my decision to quit. After that, I knew I could not be around this family any longer and that I HAD to report the behaviour. Thank you all for the advice. I still can't believe this happened and the parents don't think there's anything wrong with it.

CityNanny said...

I know you said you were going to report them, but please, if you are on the fence, you must. I'm not saying "it's the law, you have to" etc.. but I know a couple people who have been sexually abused as a child and they will never be able to let it go and will always suffer from the memories. If you can write down every detail you remember from what the little boy said, even if you can email the parents and see what they write back (and save both emails).. maybe you can use those when going to CPS. Anything. I am just thinking of that poor little boy!

Velvetraindrops said...

I hate to be the one to say it but it sounds to me as though there may be a chance that BOTH boys have been abused. Kids don't just get hold of and use sex toys all on their own. I am very afraid to think what might be going on in that house. It isn't just the little one who needs an advocate. Most children who display hyper-sexual behavior at such a young age (9) do so due to abuse in their lives. He either is being or has probably been abused in the past. Perhaps that is the reason the parents keep blowing it off.

This of course is just my opinion based on what you have shared. I truly hope this isn't the case, but either way something strange is going on in that house and it needs to be reported. Please keep us informed

ericsmom said...

Yeah it sounds like the parents are the monsters abusing both boys. In turn the oldest who is still a young child is abusing his younger brother.

Also, you can always go to the school the kids attend and talk to either the school counselor or Principal.

I wish you luck!! I know its a hard thing to deal with. But you have to for the sake of both children. They need help ASAP!! Please keep us updated. I hope the boys will get thru this

ums said...

You are a mandated reporter. I am surprised with all your experience you don't know that.

You MUST report any suspicion of child abuse, and that includes child on child abuse.

Immediately, if you have not done so already.

Razzle Dazzle said...

I too think that one of the parents already knew (and perhaps, started the mess...just saying). The dad blew it off waaaay to easily. I pray it's not as it seems...

MamaLaywer said...

Please take care of your health. While you are recuperating from your surgeries, please take a good hard look inside yourself and think about if you need a career change to something that doesn't put you in the position of being a mandated reporter since this has been so difficult for you.

While it was a relief to see your update in the comments that you decided to report the behavior you've seen, when I first finished reading your initial post I couldn't understand why on earth you had any question about what to do. Good luck.

ericsmom said...

If she doesn't report it, I hope her mother does.

alex said...

that is sad the dad didn't care. You definitely need to report this to cps and leave. What is going on is not right or fair to the 4 yr old and it needs to stop.

Village said...

Report, report, report. The father could be the abuser. It happens in the best of homes. It happens in the worst of homes.

OP said...

Again, yes, I have reported it. To the agency that got got me the job, the police, and childrens services. It was never really a question of whether of not to report, and yes I do know I'm a mandated reporter. I was struggling with what the dad told me and his reaction. Of course it could be nothing. But I'm not willing to take that chance. I have contacted the previous nanny who just left without warning, and she has informed me that she also witnessed the abuse. SHE did nothing about it, which puts me in a bad position because who knows how long this has been going on. I really wish she would have reported it but at least I know I did the right thing.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Good for you OP. This must have been so difficult. As was pointed out above, the 9 yo's behavior is typically the result of abuse. In reading your post the dad's dismissive reaction immediately made me suspicious of him. If he isn't the abuser, I bet he knows who is. I hope CPS is able to help these poor boys.

Phoenix said...

Ok. The older boy is 9. Children at that age are exploring. It seems that he is pre-meditating this and he knows its wrong. But he is still very young and most people don't realize that sex is a primal instinct. I would question the parents on this one. He discovered this behavior somewhere. He saw it at one point. The parents probably know and they are brushing it off. It could be that maybe he walked in on his parents have sex and they explained to him "this is what people do when they love eachother very much" Well, he loves his brother....
It is not un-heard of for children to behave this way. (I don't know the details tho) Fraud was one who stated that children engage in sexual episodes and that it is healthy to a degree as long as they aren't assaulting anyone. i would leave if I were you

ELam said...

Phoenix -- it is one thing to explore, and yes, children are absolutely exploring in that area, but a 9-year-old should be aware that his own "private parts" are for himself to touch and for Mom/Dad/doctor to look at if need be. And that other's "private parts" are not to be touched or seen. That is the parents responsibility to teach that. This situation could absolutely be traumatizing and abusive for the 4-year-old boy. The 9-year-old should know better and the 4-year-old, at that age, should be having those type of conversations with his parents about what's appropriate and what is not.

OP -- Report and leave.

Phoenix said...

yes the boy should be aware. But what if no one taught him that. If a child is doing something and it isn't corrected and explained the it will go on and possibly get worse.

Pfan said...

Phoenix does bring up a great point. I personally agree with her.

Bre said...

I'm glad you reported, OP. You did the right thing. I'm also glad you were these kids nanny and not another nanny who ignored the issue or chose to write it off as "kids being curious."

This could turn out to be nothing or it could be something. I'd always er on the side of caution. I can deal with reporting and being wrong. I don't think I would be able to live with myself if I did nothing and it turns out there was something there.

At least now it can be investigated, and both little boys can be helped.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

Phoenix, I (almost) totally disagree with you. Young children are not sexual at the age of 9 in a normal situation. That is what Freud called the "Latent" stage, and as the term implies, there is not a natural instinct for sexual exploration then.

In addition, the parents of these children would have to be totally and completely socially unaware to not have at least explained to the kids that their private parts are, in fact, private. Forget the antiquated "stranger danger" concept - the right to bodily integrity is what is used now days with kids whose parents are socially and psychologically aware of the facts on sexual abuse.

The only point you make that I think is true is that the older boy "discovered this behavior somewhere". I would guess it was discovered with the person(s) who have abused him.

op said...

I met with the previous nanny today. She saw exactly what I saw but she chose not to report it. I was so furious. I know how hard it can be, but I can't believe it's been going on for this long and none of their previous nannies have said anything! She didn't even bring it up to the parents. I convinced her to report it under the same file as mine, so hopefully with two reports they will get on things as fast as possible. I agree with pheonix in that children do experiment, but not the way these two are and not at 9. And the other nanny also thinks the dad is the main perpetrator. I called childrens services again to add this information. I'm so glad to be out of this situation but I don't think I'll be able to relax until I know those boys are safe.

ericsmom said...

OP you did the right things!! It must be so hard on you!! Especially as you are going thru some health issues yourself.

I would be pissed too with the previous nanny. I hope she is not in a field with children.
Do you think she could be the abuser??

Well at least the authorities are taking over.

I read an article online today of a third grade teacher in California molesting children in his classroom. Do you know how the case was opened?? A film processor developing his film saw pictures of kids bound, mouths taped, and cochroaches crawling on them. Little girls holding seamen filled spoons. They did lab tests and discovered it was seamen.,
Also, he made cookies that had his seamen in it!@ Sicko!!!! This was a teacher!!!
The FBI found pictures on his computer of pornography.

One of the neighbors admitted seeing him at the beach with a young girl. When the neighbor asked who this girl was he said a student from the school. The neighbor admitted he should have reported it to the police but didn't.

If I can find the link I will post in here. All I know it was a third grade teacher from California.

Phoenix said...

OP, I'm a little concerned that you are being so gun-ho about this. The only reason is sometimes, the authorities don't handle situations the right way and you could be the cause of children being removed from their parents when it's not warranted.

Example: My uncle took his camera into get developed at Walgreens. The lab tech called the cops because on my uncles camera were pictures of his 5 year old daugher in "sexaully suggestive" poses nude. He was quickly arrested and his home ransacked, his computer taken, and questioned for hours on end. He was released on bail. Well it turns out that his 10 year old son was the one who took the photos and had his sister pose naked for the camera. Why? Because he saw his mother's boyfriend doing it to his mom. He just saw it and reciprocated. My uncle almost lost his children because of it. And he didn't do anything wrong.

If you are wrong about your suspicions and I hope to hell you are. You better be 100% sure that you know the full the story. You could ruin a family. But again, we don't know what happened so I can't give insight on it

Explored as a child.... said...

Dear OP,

I think that whatever the outcome is the right thing to do is report it. I am so curious as to what it is that you saw that was so shocking?

For the point of a child at the age, when I was around six years old, I was approached my a family friend (another girl) for sexual purposes. She was around 10 when I was 7. Our sexual play-dates continued until I was 8. I then approached another family friend whom was around 7 when I was 8 and encountered in sexual play with her (touching, kissing etc).

I learned years later that the girl whom initially approached me was not abused but was as Phoenix suggested was exploring. I then explored with my family friend. At the time it seemed harmless, however, looking back I do wonder where the parents were during this time period, as this all occurred right under their noses.

Around the age of 9 when I began to ask questions and learn about human sexuality, I realized that perhaps I should not be exploring and immediately stopped this kind of play.

However, the point I am trying to make is that it is clearly a cycle. The first girl came to me perhaps she had been abused or had an encounter with another person, then I went to another person, and I am not sure what came of that family friend but perhaps she engaged in something with another person.

Children do not overnight wake up and all of the blue have knowledge on sexual matters. They learn, see, or experience it somewhere.

This may not be a case of abuse, but either way it needs to be addressed.

If this is a case of simply exploring that is O.K. But the brothers need to be taught that appropriate places to explore, their bedroom etc, and that its not okay to explore with other people etc.

The only things that really bother me in this post is that fact that they were exploring with a sex object, and also, that the father brushed it off so quickly. However, one must always consider EVERYONE, as a lot of times so many women whom abuse children are overlooked because of their gender and positions as caregivers, mothers etc.

OP, if possible please let us know what comes out of this.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

The older one told him it was "exercise" and that it was a secret.

Phoenix, this quote from the OP is, IMO, pretty clearly indicating that the older boy is quoting an abuser. I think your uncle got a bad rap, but he was NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG.

Someone is doing very very evil and wrong things to at least the older child. Discussing sexual activity as "exercise" and stressing that it is secret sounds just like something a pedophile would do.

OP, I hope your report causes actions to be taken to investigate. The previous nanny should be ashamed of herself.

MissMannah said...

I have purposely not put my two cents' worth in yet because I have been so ambivalent about this one. I still am--I just don't know what to think about it. I can't wrap my head around the concept that if the parents are molesting their children or allowing them to see sexual activities or imagery, as some here seem to think, why they would hire a nanny into their home to witness it. It just seems to me that if any family had a secret or something to hide, they would want everyone to stay as far away as possible.

I also would like to know what the older brother has done to the younger one. Has he simply been experimenting or has he been sexual with him? I think this is the real question, because that can fully tell us what is going on behind closed doors. I used to know a man who was molested when he was 5 years old by some older boys in the neighborhood--I believe they were 8-10 years old. He believes they were only experimenting with him and while he has since forgiven them, he remembers feeling very scared at the time and feeling the need to keep the secret as well. Were they the victims of adult abuse? Who knows? But we also don't know if these boys now are victims and I just don't feel right going around accusing people of abuse that we aren't completely certain is happening. But, at the very least, I think we can all agree that these kids to need to be in some sort of counselling because something's not right.

Bre said...

I still feel op did the right thing in reporting. Why take the chance? At least it's being investigated and if abuse is taking place can be stopped.

If there is abuse, the abuser may not be the parents they may just be in denial of it.
Or perhaps abuse took place in the past and was never really dealt with.
Abusers don't always hide away from society. They think they can get away with it , and if they've gotten away with it so far take more chances.

Sometimes people don't realize they are being abused or that they were sort of in denial.

That got a bit longwinded.
OP, don't let anyone make you second guess yourself you did the right thing.

Nanny S said...

Echoing what everyone else has said--but judging by the dad's reaction, I am betting that there is sexual abuse from him or the mother to his boys. Often children that have been sexually abused repeat the acts with other children. It's possibly both of these boys are being sexually abused by an adult.

Velvetraindrops said...

MissMannah you bring up a good point about the parents not bringing a nanny into the home if they were being abusive to the children, however most abusers are quite confident in their ability to hide the abuse and the trust of their victim to keep their secret. They use many different tactics to ensure their secret is kept. Many times abuse goes on for YEARS and the only people in the home/family who knew about it were the abuser and the victim.

Also while I personally suspect the abuse as coming from within the home it very well could not be and therefore once again, no need to not hire a nanny.

As for those who bring up kids sexually experimenting this is something that some kids (not all but many do) however what is going on in this house is clearly distressing the younger child. He could be scarred for life by something that so many people this is normal and harmless. If he felt the need to report it to his nanny he was looking for help.

My personal opinion is that the older boy has been abused. His calling it exercise and a secret made that opinion solid in me, but regardless the younger child is definitely being abused. It isn't something he wants to be doing.

I suspect the abuse from coming from within the home because I can not wrap my head around the idea that a parent or parents would allow such behavior to continue.

Noelle said...

Several thoughts: you are absolutely right to be concerned. Some "playing doctor" is normal at certain ages, but this appears to be something else. I have some training and experience (through work) with child sexual abuse. In almost all cases where a child is molesting other children it is because that child has been or is being molested him/herself - generally by an adult. I don't know where you live, but find out how to contact child protective services in your area. Generally they will have a 1-800 number and most states (to my knowledge) have laws protecting the identity of child abuse reporters so your name would not be released. If you care about these kids, reporting the abuse is the number one priority for both of them. CPS workers will not be looking at the older child as an abuser but as a victim and will work to get to the bottom of what is going on. I wish you the best of luck in a horrible situation. Do not ask the boys any questions on your own - children at those ages are very suggestible and should only be questioned about abuse by a person trained in interviewing children. I would definitely tell cps about the parents responses.

Noelle said...

Just saw note that you did report it. Very good to hear. Best of luck to you.

another nanny said...

OP, good for you for reporting it. I was told by a child welfare worker that you don't have to be certain about the abuse in order to report. You just have to have reasonable cause, which you definitely have. Also, I was told that while it may not be the parents actually abusing the child, they have a duty to intervene once they know it's going on, so it can be considered neglect if they allow it to continue.

As someone else mentioned, a bit of "show and tell" or "playing doctor" is normal for kids, but with all the secrecy and euphemisms I would seriously doubt that's all that's going on here.

just to confuse things... said...

Just to throw another thought in: if the parents are the abusers (if they're being abused), why NOT hire a nanny? It could all be blamed on her if it came to light????

Phoenix said...

Some kids who are abused though dont typically repeat the behavior with another member of the family. My very closest friend who I love dearly was raped by her father from the age of 2 to 8. What he said to her makes me have chills and want to vomit. But he said that "he was cleaning her" She never ever repeated any form of sexual behavior towards another child.
Now I was a child who explored sexually as well. I think one game I played was touching tounges. Kinda creepy. But kids do have sexual exploration. My little cousin Rhiannon was in a hotel with her parents. While my aunt & uncle were sleeping she turned on the TV and watched porn. She was like 5. Then she would come over to my house and she would lay on the bed and say "you can do whatever you want to me." She was just repeating a behavior that she saw. If kids see something and its not explained to them that it is wrong they will continue to do it. My husbands litte boy cousin who was 10 and the time was caught fondling his younger female cousin who was 4. The family has since been divided because one side feels that the boy is a sexual pervert and the other side said its merely exploration and he didn't know any better. From my observations, kids who are truly being abused are very introverted and they do not typically repeat the behavior. Of course there are always exceptions.

OP - it was good of you to report this. As far as the sex toy thing. It could be the kid found it one day, or saw his parents playing with it and his parents were too embarrassed to say anything to him. I was on the phone with my mom once and my step-son walks into my room, goes to my night-stand and takes out my vibrator. I was shocked and embarrassed to no end. But he didn't know what it was. instead of just saying something stupid like, its a toy, or that isn't yours and you are not allowed to have it (because that peaks interest) I just said that he wasn't allowed to go into other peoples private drawers and snoop. I explained that he wouldn't like it if I went into his dresser and took out his underware and showed everyone. So he never went into my drawers again. To me it sounds like these kids have seen something and they weren't given complete lessons in the matter. I also know a little girl who brought her moms dildo she found into school for show and tell. Talk about humiliating.

But please keep us posted on this one. I would be very curious about the outcome and I sincerely hope that this is a huge misunderstanding and those boys aren't being abused in any way.

1234 said...

Phoenix, I just can't

I hope this all turns out for the best whatever the best turns out to be.

A Survivor said...

OP- You have done the right thing.

To the community: I would like to stress there has to be a zero percent margin of error when it comes to possible child sex abuse. There is nothing to think about. Any kind of suspicion=reporting to the authorities. The child is incapable of defending him/her/themselves, let the adults be responsible for their own defense when the authorities investigate. Saving a child from possible abuse is worth the consequences of possibly turning in a report over a misunderstanding. Zero percent margin of error.

I know most of you know and have said of much. But some participating in this discussion do not seem to grasp this message.

Lauren said...

Whether or not there is actual abuse going on - the OP did the right thing by reporting it. She is not "going gung-ho" or "trying to tear the family apart".

A Mandated reporter must report if she "suspects or has reason to believe" a child is subject to abuse or neglect. Then you let the authorities handle it. They will conduct a full investigation, etc.

AnAussieSurvivor said...

Wow. I mean this in the nicest way possible but it seems some people commenting on here are a bit delusional or in denial. (I am not singling anyone out.. just referencing comments)
"If the children were being abused by a parent, why hire a nanny?" hiring a nanny is the perfect cover up for abuse.. because everyone will say the exact same thing you did.

If you have even the slightest inkling that either one of those children are being abused, if any of you have any inkling that any child you nanny for is being abused, you need to report it. I would rather report something that I thought was abuse or was suspicious about, cause a huge issue and it turn out to be nothing, then find out a few years later that they were in fact being abused, my suspicions were right and they have been suffering through this for all these years. Abuse is something someone will never get over.

A 9 year old should not be sexually exploring another child, least of all his younger brother. To then make up an excuse for it and call it a 'secret' if that doesnt scream abuse, I'm not sure what does.

I lived in a house with my abuser for 2 years. (my step-brother) No one and I mean NO ONE had any idea what was going on and it was happening right under their noses. We had babysitters, family stay, friends come over.. the whole lot and no one suspected anything.
Abusers are good at hiding what they do, they think they have the ability to outsmart those around them.

IMO- I think the father is abusing the eldest boy and the eldest boy thinks its the done thing and is doing it to the younger one. The fact that the father was unconcerned and acted as if he didnt believe you makes me wonder even more that he is involved somehow.

"completely harmless" No.. its going to ruin that boys life forever. Even if you are not 100% sure.. its better to report then not report.

Well done to the OP for reporting it. While you're at it, report the previous nanny too. Anyone who suspects child abuse in any way, shape or form and doesnt report it, should be charged too.

I hope this isnt the case and I really hope it is just a misunderstanding but from what you've written, I doubt it.

Please keep us updated OP. I hope both you and the boys are ok. I hope your health has/is improving.

AS xx