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Monday, January 21, 2008

Should children babysit children?


For me, there is nothing more troubling than the case of the 12-year old child who is accused of killing 17-month old Shaloh Joseph. The child had to baby-sit both the toddler and his 10-year old brother for about 12 hours each day while his mother and the toddler's parents went to work during the winter break from school. He became annoyed with her and may have killed her by using a bat on her head. Now, as Miami Herald articles have detailed, the boy could be prosecuted as an adult.

As a working parent, I know firsthand the battle to keep our kids occupied and safe while we're at our jobs on those days off from school. For some, adequate and affordable child care feels so out of reach. And too often, in my job I have interviewed parents who admit to leaving kids home alone during breaks from school.

Whose fault is it that this child didn't have the maturity to handle the situation he was put in? We need to look at the child care system we have in place, educate parents on their alternatives and give them more affordable options. Should children babysit other children? At what age is it okay?

I bet there are lots of kids home alone today on a school holiday while their parents are at work. Will parents continue to feel they have no alternatives to leaving their children home alone on days off? Do you feel employers are doing enough to acknowledge these child care concerns?

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