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Reality Check: Neglectful Sitter

Q  I've noticed that my friend's toddler is often ignored by her sitter at the playground. Should I tell what I've seen?

A I understand your hesitation, especially if your friend believes in killing the messenger. But if you witness a child being neglected, even if it's benign neglect, you have a responsibility to do something about it. Depending on the situation, that may mean watching over the child yourself while you're at the playground, giving the sitter a heads up about attending to her charge, or ratting her out to her employer. Since you know the neglected child and her mother, you have more responsibility to act, not less. And look at it this way: Wouldn't you want to be told if this were your child getting too little attention?

Gently tell your friend only what you've seen and resist the urge to give advice about what she ought to do. She may want to have a talk with the sitter before considering anything as rash as firing her. It's not so easy to replace a caregiver, not even one who falls short of expectations, and it's simply not your role to suggest how she make use of the information you give her. Even if by some twisted logic your friend ends up mad at you, it's worth it. Until a child is old enough to report back to her parents about a caregiver's ways, it's up to the adults around her to keep her safe.

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