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Importance of Choosing an Appropriate Babysitter


Child Death a Timely Reminder of Importance of Choosing an Appropriate Babysitter

Parents cannot be too careful in deciding who they will leave in charge of their children, says national child abuse prevention organisation Child Matters. This advice follows news yesterday when a woman was charged with the murder of a one-year-old girl she was alleged to have been babysitting at the time.

Child Matters’ founding chief executive Anthea Simcock says that the death of one-year-old Aaliyah Ashlyn Chand in Christchurch is a tragic reminder of how important it is to be sure that the person you leave your child with is safe, and treats them carefully, respectfully and appropriately.

“It is common for parents to find themselves in a situation where they need someone to care for their children, sometimes at a moment’s notice, says Mrs. Simcock. “The very best thing a parent can do is prepare for such a time by having a back-up person in mind – someone that they have previously spoken to that they are comfortable with, and know that their child will be safe with.”

When considering a person to care for their child, it is natural for parents to seek someone who echoes their own values and parenting styles. However Mrs. Simcock suggests that while this criteria is what most people would like, she urges parents to follow some basic rules as a minimum standard when choosing an appropriate person to care for their children:

• Do not leave your child with an adult who has been drinking or using drugs, or who regularly does so. Their judgement may well be impaired, and their attention or focus on the safety of your child may put your child in real danger.

• Think very carefully before leaving your child with someone who has had issues with the authorities about not being able to care for their own children.

• It is not safe to leave your child with someone with a history of violence or aggression or a lack of self-control. Crying or temper tantrums can push such people over the edge and place your child in real danger.

• Do not leave your child with someone who is stressed. Children’s behaviour, hot weather, and many other factors can be the last straw that may cause the person to lose control.

• Do not leave your child with someone who has no experience with children and their needs and their behaviours. Lack of understanding of ‘normal’ development and behaviour can lead people to discipline in inappropriate ways. This could be dangerous for your child. If the person does not understand the effects of shaking a baby, for example, there could be catastrophic outcomes.

• Ensure the carer has experience with children the age of your child and knows how to care for them safely. The carer needs to know about safe sleep practices such as how to put a baby to sleep safely on his or her back, and about such issues as about not smoking around a baby about what to feed a young child and when a child should nap etc.

• The carer should have first aid training.

• You want someone who is interested in your child, who will know what will keep them interested and stimulated. Make sure that they will not be looking after lots of other children at the same time as they are caring for your child.

• Don’t leave your child in someone else’s house that is unhygienic, dangerous or unfenced or has animals that are not on leashes.

• Make sure that the carer is able to get hold of you in an emergency, or get medical help if needed.

Mrs. Simcock also stresses how essential it is to interview someone before you leave your child or baby with them. This practice will not only ensure the basic screening criteria is met, but will also give you a ‘gut feeling’ about the person. “Just because someone offers - it is no reason to accept,” says Mrs. Simcock. “Trust your instinct and do not leave your child if you are not comfortable.”

She also reminds parents that by law, a person needs to be over 14 years old to babysit.

“There are too many children harmed by caregivers and partners. The recent death of one-year-old Aaliyah Ashlyn Chand is another a tragic reminder that not all people are able to care for little people safely.”


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