Krim Case by Nanny X

By Nanny X, writer and advocate for childcare change who blogs at TheNannyTimebomb

Monday October 29th, 2012, 5pm.

The skies of Manhattan are a brooding charcoal. Black clouds hang over the skyline like an apocalyptic doom. Hurricane Sandy is on her way but New Yorkers are already in the eye of a storm. A few days ago an unspeakable double murder perpetrated by a Nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, upon two small children (Leo, 2, ‘Lulu’ Lucia, 6) occurred. Ortega remains in a medically induced coma, as Police wait for her to heal before charging. Days on, the threads of the accused woman’s life are coming together. The consensus is that Nanny Ortega suffered a psychotic breakdown after a long bout of depression and financial troubles.

A full analysis of the case and the sequence of events can be found at http://thenannytimebomb.blogspot.com. But just to recap here are the facts: Marina Krim a pediatrician by training, was a stay at home mother of 3 small children, Lucia aged 6, Nessie aged 3, and Leo aged 2.  The family lived in a luxury apartment on the Upper West Side, Manhattan. Kevin Krim, her husband, is a senior VP at CNBC Digital.  The Krims hired Yoselyn Ortega after the birth of their third child Leo. Ortega originally from the Dominican Republic, is a U.S naturalized citizen. Ortega was introduced to the Krims via a friend.  The Krims traveled to the Dominican Republic and met Ortega’s relatives. Ortega lived with her sister (a temporary situation) and niece in Harlem, Manhattan. Ortega has a 17-year-old son and is separated from his father. Although the Krims paid her ‘well’ Ortega recently complained of being ‘broke’ and ‘tired’ to neighbors and friends. The Krims concerned about Ortega’s financial problems had helped her look for a 2nd baby-sitting job. Ortega had recently paid a visit or visits to a psychologist. She had begun to lose weight, looked haggard and was increasingly withdrawn and anxious.

The Krim’s apartment building on the Upper West Side, NYC.

Reactions

NYC moms are expressing their shock in a number of ways: physical upsets like vomiting and diarrhea, alternating between bouts of anxiety and tears, complete disbelief and shock. A few have put the entire situation down to the Krim case being a ‘one-off’, a rare psychotic breakdown that could not have been anticipated. The message boards and blogs reveal a wave of panic and hysteria, as working parents now second-guess the most intimate strangers in their homes: their nannies.

Curiously, the responses of Nannies have been a little different. While all nannies have expressed horror and sympathy for the Krims, a percentage have suggested that, “… there is more to the story than meets the eye”. There have also been hushed remarks between caregivers. The gist of these comments being that only now do privileged people grasp the impact of low wages, immigrant work and unfair demands routinely made upon nannies. A couple of nannies have also expressed fears over a racist backlash against foreign workers.

Leo Krim, 2, Lucia Krim, 6

Yoselyn Ortega by all accounts appears to have been – at least initially – a good nanny. Photographs shared on Marina Krim’s blog ‘Life with the Krim Children’ reveal happy images of Ortega with the Krims. Observations of Ortega by neighbors, relatives and friends have been mostly positive. But they have also revealed that Ortega had suffered financial setbacks, the full details of which are yet to be learned. The point is, that in a short matter of time Yoselyn Ortega had changed. In recent months she had begged others to help her sell jewelry, and had complained of working too hard. Relatives had taken her to a psychologist.

So what if anything can be gleaned from this seismic crime?

Nanny Yoselyn Ortega with two of the Krim children

First of all Yoselyn Ortega has yet to give her version of events. She lies in a catatonic state in hospital. It remains unknown whether Ortega had been prescribed any medication such as anti-depressants. SSRI drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox and Paxil are anti-depressant drugs that have been linked to psychotic behavior in the past. 1 If Ortega had been prescribed an SSRI drug it might begin to explain both her withdrawn and glassy-eyed appearance and the sudden psychotic episode that led to two murders.

Even if Ortega had not been medicated it is now clear that she was in fact seriously depressed and anxious about money. Hindsight is 20/20 and it appears that the Krims tried everything they could to help Ortega, such as offering her extra hours and sourcing other baby-sitting jobs. Unfortunately simply working longer hours and ‘hustling’ for cash by selling make-up and jewelry may have exacerbated Ortega’s condition. It could have led to a ‘burn out’ where a nanny simply has no more emotional or physical resources left to offer. Add ‘burn out’ to extreme financial stress coupled with a prolonged depression, perhaps also an SSRI medication and the makings of a time bomb are self-evident.

What now?

Things must change in the childcare industry and slowly they are. Nanny agencies are now offering parents profile and personality testing of candidates. Screening references of prospective Nannies is becoming the norm. Running police and financial background checks are helping to weed out obvious offenders. But change must go further than that. In the Krim case the family had vetted Yoselyn Ortega even traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit her relatives. Marina Krim was a stay at home mother. Yoselyn Ortega had been a good employer.  This is not some Craigslist horror story.

If there is one positive legacy to take from the Krim case, it’s this: finally Americans get how important being a nanny really is. It behooves everyone to make sure that all childcare workers are fully covered by health insurance. Even basic health insurance covers mental health care. Employers shouldn’t just check in with their nanny at the first signs of job fatigue: tiredness, lack of motivation, passive aggressive behaviors, withdrawn appearance, anger and despondency. They should check in with their nanny on a weekly basis. Especially in this precarious economy where many Nannies are feeling the strain.

Caring for children requires teamwork. It cannot be a them versus us between parents and nannies. Nanny violence against children is an extremely rare event. Hundreds of thousands of nannies faithfully and diligently rise each morning and head to work. Everyday families are supported by the pivotal and consistent care of a good nanny.

Let us not forget that.

  1. http://ssristories.com/show.php?item=3756
  2. http://www.wildestcolts.com/psych_opp/b-psychiatric_drugs/9-senseless.html
  3. http://afrafrontpagenews.blogspot.com/2012/07/dr-ann-blake-tracy-antidepressants-two.html

10 Things to Keep in Mind When Teaching Your Kids about Stranger Danger

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center estimates that roughly 2,000 children are reported missing every day. Luckily, the vast majority of missing children are found and their cases are resolved within hours; of those who aren’t immediately found, up to 49% are later found to have been abducted by a non-custodial parent or relative. 27% are kidnapped by an acquaintance, leaving only 24% at the hands of complete strangers. While the term “Stranger Danger” has a catchy ring to it, it’s actually a bit misleading because less than ¼ of all abducted children are taken by a stranger. This makes it extremely important to teach children about more than just stranger avoidance.

  1. Most People Are Strangers – Realistically, the majority of the people that your child encounters throughout the course of his day are strangers. Instilling a fear of all strangers will only cause him to regard anyone he doesn’t know with fear, which could make it difficult for him to approach a stranger for help if he’s in need.
  2. Avoid Absolutes – Saying things like “all strangers are bad,” or “never talk to anyone you don’t know, ever” only make it difficult for your child to navigate social encounters and unravel the mysteries of the world around him.
  3. “Good” Strangers – Pointing out that kids can always turn to people in police or firefighters’ uniforms, teachers and other official authority figures can help him to understand the difference between strangers that wish him harm and those that can offer him assistance when he needs it.
  4. No Gifts, Treats or Surprises – Let your child know that he shouldn’t accept any treats, presents or surprises from anyone that tells him that those gifts should be kept a secret. Making a policy of not accepting gifts from people he doesn’t know well is a wise idea.
  5. Talk About “Tricky” People – Because most kids are abducted or sexually abused by people that they know it’s much more important for kids to learn about “tricky” people than “stranger danger.” A tricky person is anyone who asks him to keep a secret from his parents, to lie about where he’s been, or to go somewhere with them without talking to a parent first.
  6. The Rules Apply to Big Kids, Too – Make sure that your child knows not to go anywhere with a tricky person, even if that person is an older kid. It’s easy for children taught about Stranger Danger to view adults as scary and other kids as always safe, but this isn’t always the case.
  7. Encourage Kids to Ask Questions – In order to ensure that your child has a grasp of the concepts you’re teaching, have him ask you any questions that he wants. Let him know that he won’t be in any trouble, no matter what he asks. Your child needs to know that he can always trust you when he needs to talk about strangers, tricky people and trouble; presenting an opportunity to ask no-holds-barred questions on the subject can begin to build that trust.
  8. Be Honest – It’s important to answer your child’s questions with age-appropriate honesty. Try not to evade questions, tell white lies, or otherwise subvert the truth when it comes to this very serious issue. Keep in mind that his questions are only an indication that he’s listening to what he’s being told, and is trying his best to process it.
  9. Keep the Conversation Age-Appropriate – While it’s important to be honest and up-front with your child on the subject of abuse, Stranger Danger and abductions, you should also remember just how vivid your child’s imagination is. The child whose mind can turn a shadow on the wall into a lurking monster might not need all the gory details about a local abduction case.
  10. Maintain an Ongoing Dialogue – It’s important to teach small children how to safely and responsibly handle situations with strangers and tricky people, but it’s also just as important to continue the conversation as your child ages. When he’s older, the focus may shift more to avoiding online predators and exploitation, but the basic concept is still the same and shouldn’t be abandoned after the first discussion.

Striking a balance between instructing kids on responsible behavior and outright fear-mongering is a challenge, but it’s one that you must face as a parent. While it’s of vital importance to educate your children regarding the best way to avoid abduction or abuse, it’s also important not to create anxiety and overwhelming fear of all strangers in his mind.

The Nanny State

When Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, announced that residents of the Big Apple would no longer be able to purchase sodas or sugary drinks in sizes over 16 ounces, the controversy his statement stirred up carried more than a few murmurs alluding to the “nanny state.” While this disparaging and derisive term is one that originated in England, Americans with a hunger for smaller government and less oversight have adopted it as a rallying cry. Bloomberg’s proposal, ostensibly intended to fight obesity and combat medical costs incurred by the government through Medicare and Medicaid costs, has added fuel to a partisan fire during a particularly nasty presidential campaign year. 

Why Use the Term “Nanny State” to Describe Excessive Governmental Control?

Much like a nanny oversees the health and wellbeing of her charges by monitoring their behavior, controlling their diet, and curbing unhealthy habits, proponents of smaller government feel that elected officials are effectively treating their constituents as little more than children who are incapable of making their own decisions and governing their own bodies. The difference between actual nannies and a faintly Orwellian nanny state, however, is that a real nanny knows when to let her charges grow up and become independent adults. Nannies know that children must have their own experiences, make their own choices and, within reason, deal with the consequences of those choices. Under a government that monitors dietary habits and restricts options, some Americans feel that they are being forced to surrender their control over their own lives in order to help the government control rising healthcare costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, often referred to pejoratively as “ObamaCare,” these citizens are also worried that these restrictive measures would increase exponentially as universal healthcare requires universally-shared costs.

When the Nanny State Steps into the Nanny’s Domain

In an interesting twist, measures decried as the actions of a nanny state are affecting the way that parents and nannies care for the children they’re responsible for. Hot on the heels of his soft drink restrictions, Michael Bloomberg also championed a movement encouraging New York hospitals to limit new mothers’ access to infant formula. While breastfeeding is certainly the healthiest and most ideal option for both newborn babies and their mothers, beliefs regarding the government’s right to make that choice for new moms are divided. Selling Girl Scout cookies, a beloved tradition supporting an honorable institution, is now illegal for little girls on their own front lawns in Hazelwood, Missouri. Legislation restricting parents’ choices regarding vaccinations and opting out of immunizations is being introduced in states across the nation, and school lunches packed at home are routinely inspected in cafeterias around the country. In Tennessee, legislation outlawing sagging pants has been introduced, and would fine young offenders up to $250 or sentence them to up to 160 hours of community service for their wardrobe choices.

Loving Nannies Versus Controlling Officials

The rules and guidelines set forth for children by their nanny are almost always intended to help them learn the value of making the right choices, understanding consequences, and growing into successful, happy adults. Those who attempt to stand against governmental regulation of personal choices may call their government a nanny state, but there’s nothing loving or concerned about their actions in these detractors’ eyes. Where a good nanny simply teaches her young charges to function as adults, these citizens see the government as an oppressor who takes choices out of their hands. Where a nanny seeks to guide her charges away from the decision to smoke when they reach adulthood, a nanny state simply taxes the cigarettes that adults buy and heavily regulates the way that those cigarettes can be marketed. Childcare providers teach their charges the importance of wearing a seatbelt, and the government fines adults who are well aware of the risks that forgoing a seatbelt present every time they’re caught without one. 

Legislation that some citizens perceive to be the overly-controlling actions of a nanny state is nothing new, though the outrage that it provokes seems to be more intense in today’s strained political environment. With protesters on both sides of every issue battling it out on Internet forums and waiting impatiently for their moment at the polls, how much control the government ultimately exerts over American citizens in the next four years remains yet to be seen.