Cases of physical violence and sexual assault by babysitters in the headlines have created a fair degree of anxiety among parents over whether or not hiring a stranger as a babysitter is safe. This concern and anxiety is doubly relevant for parents because the process of recruiting and screening a babysitter is usually informal. The relative laxness and simplicity involved in hiring of a babysitter is a cause for concern.
One of the biggest fears that haunts any parent is leaving the house in the care of a trusted babysitter only to find out that said babysitter has neglected or abused the child. There are plenty of horror stories of parents uncovering a nasty reality like this one after installing a hidden camera with the intention of putting their doubts to rest. As parents that want the best for their children, how can you avoid ending up in such a bad situation?
Familiarize Yourself with the Statistics
Knowing the numbers associated with victim and offender profiles can save you a lot of trouble when it comes to the selection process. You’ll want to do a bit of research into the types of crimes likely to be committed against children, along with common characteristics of offenders. If you have a good sense of the trends of child abuse by babysitters, it can go a long way towards helping you ensure your child’s safety.
For example, the U.S. Department of Justice identifies a number of trends for at-risk populations in their report on crimes perpetrated by babysitters against children. The report finds that children from 1-3 years of age are most prone to physical violence while children from 3-5 years of age are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. It also identifies males as the primary culprits of sexual assault cases (77 percent) and females as the primary culprits of physical violence (64 percent).
Children under the age of six are the group that are most likely to be abused by babysitters. Based on the statistics of this report, alone, you can drastically cut the chance of abuse by simply taking care of your child at younger ages and letting babysitters attend to your children when they are no longer infants. However, it’s unrealistic to expect parents to never leave the home without children for up to six years.
Perform a Background Check
The most direct approach to finding a safe babysitter is carefully vetting all prospects. You should spare no expense to order a thorough and comprehensive background check on individuals applying for caretaker positions. A background check should return a number of key pieces of information, including criminal records and legal offenses. Additionally, it’s also worth asking candidates for references and employment history documentation for extra verification of their resumes and experience.
Luckily, there are a number of robust online services available to help assist your efforts. Checkr is one of these online background checking services that gives you a comprehensive and easily navigable overview of both the legal record and past employment of potential babysitters. Its services are widely used by major corporations, including Uber, to screen and potential drivers.
It’s also possible for you to go a more traditional route by hiring a professional service to vet candidates on your behalf. There’s actually a number of resources and guides on how you can run a free and effective online background check using simply your connection to the Internet. Regardless of which route you choose it’s important to do your due diligence when looking for the right babysitter.
Collect Information Through Word of Mouth
If a background check is a formal way to confirm the professional background of a person, it’s possible to get a clearer picture by looking at more informal avenues of information. For instance, people have the tendency to portray their character in very different ways on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you’re just looking at someone’s résumé and work experience on LinkedIn, you won’t be able to get the full picture of who they are as a person. It’s now a common practice for companies to use social media to screen potential employees. Applying this same standard to the babysitters you screen is also a worthwhile strategy.
While checking the publicly available information on a babysitter’s social media profile is certainly an option, it’s also effective to send out some questions and feelers about a candidate’s reputation. The information you obtain from informal word-of-mouth channels is incredibly important and worth investigating if any major red flags pop up.
At the end of the day, finding a safe babysitter is all about planning and awareness. What are some of the ways you can help make your children safer when you’re out of the home?