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Selecting The Right Babysitter For Child Safety And Security

A 33-year-old man, who worked as a babysitter, has been arrested for allegedly encouraging child sex abuse. Specifically, he is accused of "developing, duplicating 'and/or' distributing recordings of sexually explicit conduct involving a child," according to court records.

He has also been accused of possessing a video of an individual "engaging in sexual conduct with an animal," according to prosecutors. The accused pled not guilty to all the charges. Jim Ryan "Portland babysitter pleads not guilty to encouraging child sex abuse" oregonlive.com (Jan. 2019).

Commentary and Checklist

Approximately 60 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members. These are usually family friends, neighbors, child care providers, and babysitters.

Many argue that the percentage of abuse by family members is greater than reported because it is easier to report an acquaintance than a family member. Nevertheless, the number of acquaintances that sexually abuse children is consequential.

Authorities did not confirm whether the accusations against the alleged perpetrator in the source article were directly related to his job as a babysitter. However, even if the allegations are proven to be unrelated to his work, children are especially vulnerable as to adults who have the opportunity to have children alone without other safe adults present. Babysitters often are left alone with children, which makes choosing a babysitter extremely important for child safety.

What should parents/employers do to make that their children will be safe with a babysitter?

Here are some tips from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan:

  • Whenever possible, choose a trusted friend or family member to babysit.
  • If friends and family are not available, get recommendations from friends.
  • Obtain background checks on the sitters.
  • Use a bonded service, if possible.
  • Watch how your child reacts when you tell the sitter they know is coming, and listen to what your child will say about the sitter afterward.
  • Meet the sitter in advance and check his/her references.
  • Ask the sitter about his/her experience with children.
  • Make sure the sitter knows CPR and first aid.
  • Ask if your sitter has taken the American Red Cross babysitter class. If not, encourage him/her to take it.
  • Before leaving the sitter with the kids, have him/her spend time with you and your kids. Have the sitter watch the kids while you are home getting something done. This is a good opportunity for you to see how the sitter interacts with the kids.
  • When you do leave the kids with the sitter, make sure to go over your child's routine and general house rules.
  • Let the sitter know if your child may special problems like allergies to foods, household products, or bee stings.
  • Let the sitter know if your child needs medication at a specific time. Explain and write down directions.
  • Make sure the sitter knows where you will be and how to reach you at all times.
  • Make sure the sitter knows whom to contact in an emergency in case he/she can't contact you.
  • Show the babysitter where smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits are located.
  • If you have security systems, demonstrate how to enable and disable them.
  • Make sure the sitter knows where the first aid kit is and review the contents with the sitter.
  • Drop in unexpectedly on the sitter.
  • Consider using video camera surveillance in your home.
  • Ask your child to tell you what happened with the sitter that day. Did they play games or tell stories? Which ones? Did the sitter say or do anything unusual?
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