August 10, 2020 | Oklahoma Law
In Middleton, Ohio, a hidden nanny cam caught a babysitter screaming at a 10-month old baby, before sitting on top of him. The nanny was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child abuse. The parents installed the nanny cam because they felt something had changed in their child’s behavior.
A nanny in The Bronx, NY, can be seen on a nanny cam hitting, kicking, and screaming at an infant left in her care. She was arrested and charged with felony child abuse charges.
Recently, in Oklahoma, a motion-activated camera caught a babysitter throwing a 2-year old onto a bed, after carrying him by one arm, causing soft tissue injuries. The mother was rightfully horrified to witness her child treated in such a way in her absence.
A 2001 report by the Department of Justice found that child care providers accounted for a little over 4% of crimes against children under the age of six. That is far lower than the rate of crimes committed by family members and lower than the number of crimes against children committed by strangers. Sex crimes outnumbered physical assaults. Juvenile babysitters committing 48% of the reported sex crimes, but only accounted for 15% of physical assaults.
Background checks are used by parents to help ensure the safety of their children. However, most offenders who are caught on hidden camera did not undergo a criminal background check. Given the horrific stories of infant abuse and abuse against children unable to tell their parents what is happening, it is not surprising that the use of hidden nanny cams is growing.
Is it Legal to Place a Hidden Nanny Cam in Oklahoma?
It is legal to install a hidden nanny cam in all 50 states. Oklahoma does have a so-called Peeping Tom law that prohibits the use of surveillance equipment anywhere someone should have a reasonable right to privacy. In your home, this only includes the bathroom or the bedroom of a live-in nanny. Numerous other states have similar laws that prohibit the installation of nanny cams or other surveillance devices in areas such as the bathroom.
Outside of those narrow constraints, it is perfectly legal to have a hidden nanny cam anywhere in your home. Recording video, without sound, is legal in all fifty states, but audio becomes more complicated. Federal law prohibits the use of audio recorded without consent from being used in court cases (Federal Law Title 18 U.S.C § 2512). In Oklahoma, state law requires the consent of at least one party in the conversation. Muting the audio, or using a nanny cam without audio satisfies both federal and state law.
What Do Other States Say About Nanny Cams?
In California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington require that you notify your babysitter, or nanny if you have a nanny cam that records both audio and video.
Without such notification, the person who is recorded could hire a personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit against the person who did the recording. They could seek compensation for damages, including suffering and emotional distress. If a recording of abuse or neglect was made without giving notice to the caregiver, the evidence could be ruled inadmissible in court. It is crucial that you be aware of the laws of your state before you capture audio using a hidden camera.
Dangers of a Nanny Cam
Most nanny cams are wireless cameras connected to the internet. They allow you to see or even interact with your children and pets when you are away from home. Unfortunately, the signals are not difficult to intercept. Anyone who intercepts the signal can spy on you, your children, and your home.
Many of these cameras do not come with encryption or password protection enabled as the default setting. If you decide to get a nanny cam, shop carefully, and make sure you set a strong password.
Weak encryption and the lack of a strong password poses a significant security risk to your family and your home. As a parent, nothing is more disturbing than the thought of a stranger having the ability to watch your children without consent.
Should You Disclose the Presence of a Nanny Cam?
Many parents choose to use a nanny cam, but let their nanny or other caregivers know they are being recorded. There are pros and cons to both keeping it secret and revealing its presence. The obvious downside of disclosing the presence of a cam is that the nanny could abuse your child in places not surveilled by the camera.
However, it is far better to prevent abuse from ever happening than to catch someone in the act. So, the question parents wrestle with is whether revealing the presence of the camera will act as a deterrent? There is little information about whether the large-scale use of nanny cams have prevented cases of abuse from happening.
If you do decide to disclose the use of the nanny cam, do so in writing, and have the caregiver sign the document. If you have their permission, in writing, both the audio and video can be used in court if it becomes necessary.