Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
Have you ever noticed that there are hardly any male babysitters? Part of that is because men are less likely to be interested in the job overall (especially teenage boys.) But many parents also have a stigma and feel it's unsafe to leave their child with a man compared to a woman.
Is it safe to hire a male babysitter? A male babysitter can be just as safe, caring, and responsible as a female one. Rather than immediately rule out a male babysitter simply based on gender, it's better to set that aside and compare their qualifications and recommendations to your other potential candidates.
In this article, we'll discuss the stigma that male babysitters face, what stereotypes might contribute, and some of the statistics surrounding it.
I don't want to get too preachy and political with this post, but considering the subject matter, I think that might be unavoidable.
As a straight white guy, I know that pretty much everyone in the world faces more discrimination than me. And the world has really come a long way in terms of gender equality in the past few decades.
But when it comes to professions involving children like teaching and babysitting, men still face a lot of stigmas.
Even in 2019, many parents still feel less safe leaving their child alone with a man than a woman. Why? If you ask them, they might not even be able to articulate why they feel that way.
It's my opinion that on a subconscious level, most of our society believes that a man who wants to work in a career involving children must secretly be some kind of sexual predator. There's a deep level of mistrust there.
Here's why I think that is. We hear about it in the news more and more it seems. Males in positions of authority like teachers and priests assaulting children. And I think that plays a significant part in how people feel.
But is that an accurate representation of male caregivers as a whole, or is the media blowing isolated incidents out of proportion?
To get an accurate large-scale picture, we really need to look at the statistics.
A 2005 study found that 90% of reported cases of sexual assault were perpetrated by men.
Whoa, that's pretty damning evidence, right?
Well, it's not that simple. There are other numbers that we need to consider too.
While overall, men commit vastly more cases of sexual assault, only about 25% of those cases involve child victims.
Comparatively, when a female does commit a sexual assault, it's against children 40% of the time. Almost twice as high a percentage as for men. (Although admittedly still a much lower number when considering overall cases.)
When it comes specifically to cases of physical abuse at the hands of babysitters, 64% of the time it's committed by women.
Again, that number could be inflated simply by the fact that females are far more overrepresented in babysitting positions in general.
Let's set aside male vs female for a second. Should you feel safe or unsafe leaving your child with a babysitter in general?
Of crimes committed against children, babysitters make up a significantly smaller proportion than any other group. Including family members, and even complete strangers.
In crimes involving children below the age of 6, babysitters only represent about 4% of those. Compare that to family members who make up a whopping 53%!
So based on the numbers, it seems that your children being around a babysitter is actually less of a risk than almost anyone else.
Men aren't as emotional as women and don't have many feelings. Some people might think that men are less qualified to be babysitters because they aren't as in touch with their emotions.
In the 1960s and earlier this was definitely a thing. From an early age, boys were taught that men don't cry. Men have to hold it together and not show emotion. Anger was the only acceptable emotion because it somehow showed strength, but definitely not weak emotions like sadness.
Through the decades since then, this has become less and less of a thing. To the point that I'm not sure parents really teach their kids that kind of thing anymore. I can't recall the last time I heard someone tell a boy that they had to "be a man" when they were feeling scared or fell off their bike and cried.
Men are more aggressive and risk-taking. Blame it on testosterone, but there is likely some actual truth to this one. For example, in many places car insurance companies will charge young men significantly more for coverage than women of the same age. Insurance companies have actuarial data to back their claims up.
Men are more likely to get speeding tickets or to engage in full-contact sports. But does this really translate over to babysitting?
The kind of guy who dares his friend to climb up on the roof and do a bellyflop into the pool probably has a very different mindset than the type of guy you'd hire to be a babysitter.
When it comes to babysitting, guys and girls can be just as responsible. Your male babysitter isn't going to play paintball with your five-year-old while you're gone.
They just want to follow your rules, do a good job, get paid, and keep their good reputation. After all, they might want to use you as a reference for a future job at some point, so it's important that they keep your house under control while you're gone and stay on your good side.
Boys are less mature than girls. Maybe this is true at younger ages, I'm not sure. But by the time they reach babysitting age, this shouldn't really be an issue. A little immaturity can be good... after all, they need to be able to relate to your kids somehow!
Men are useless around the house. This stereotype also dates back to a time when a man's job was to go off to work while a woman stayed home to cook and clean.
In modern times, men are just as capable as women when it comes to housework like cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
Just because men traditionally like things like sports and cars doesn't mean that male babysitters aren't awesome at arts and crafts either. In my family, it's the males who are the artists!
You really need to screen all of your potential babysitters, not just guys.
That includes things like doing background checks, following up with references (See what questions to ask references here), and maybe even doing a quick Google search for their name.
The kind of people of either gender who want to hurt children can be very deceptive, charming, and difficult to identify. That's why it's important to really vet your babysitter instead of just going off feelings and vibes.
Read our complete guide: How to interview a babysitter for essential tips and our trusted techniques to help you find the best sitter regardless of their gender.
Our babysitter interview questions can help you weed out unsuitable candidates.
And always be look out for bad babysitter warning signs and take action if you suspect anything.
Some parents may choose to install nanny cams for added peace of mind. If you're considering this, read this article first: Is it legal to record a babysitter and learn what you can and can't do in your country.
The idea that male babysitters are inherently less safe than female babysitters is inaccurate and based on faulty assumptions. There are babysitters of both genders that are great, as well as awful ones.
Yes. According to this study a wage gap does seem to exist for male babysitters. They're paid $0.50 per hour more on average than their female counterparts.
See our Complete guide to babysitter pay to learn what costs to expect in your situation.
Some daycares actually do have a policy where only female staff can change babies, mostly as a result of complaints and concerns from parents. Technically this probably would count as some type of employment discrimination. But if I was a male employee told that I'm not allowed to change diapers anymore, I'm not exactly going to argue! Don't be surprised as a parent if you make this request and the daycare tells you no though.
16 signs of a good babysitter
Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
Published: 1 February 2019
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