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Do you think 12 is too young to babysit?

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Posted by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM
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2 moms liked this

8-Year-Old Gets Stabbed to Death By Intruder & Makes Moms Rethink Tween Babysitters

by Adriana Velez

front doorThe small community of Valley Springs, California is still reeling from the stabbing of 8-year-old Leila Fowler by an intruder. Leila wasn't alone in her house. Her 12-year-old brother was babysitting her while their parents were away. Considering it was the middle of the day, I'm sure Leila's parents figured this was a perfectly safe arrangement. But now that this has happened, parents everywhere may be wondering: Is it really safe to leave a 12-year-old alone to babysit?

As the oldest of five kids, I babysat my siblings and other families' children starting around that age. It was no big deal at the time. Just what you do. I think some 12-year-olds are more mature and trustworthy than others, and parents are usually a pretty good judge of that. But there are some things even the most mature 12-year-old is just not capable of handling.

We still know so little about this case. Did the intruder break in, or did he just knock on the door? Did he pick the Fowlers' home because he noticed the parents were gone? Did they know this man? Regardless, you know that the same exact time Saturday afternoon, there were millions of homes around the country where a young teen was home babysitting a younger sibling or two. It's a pretty common thing.

Unfortunately, a 12-year-old probably isn't going to be very helpful in an attack like this. It sounds like he was in another part of the house when Leila was stabbed, which is typical and understandable. A young teen is unlikely to be physically capable of fighting off an intruder. He may even get hurt as well. The best he'll be able to do is call the police. (Unless the teen was actually involved in the stabbing, but that's a whole other issue.)

But cases like this are so rare! Most of the time parents can expect to leave a responsible young teen home with their siblings without anything terrible happening. And goodness knows we parents are incredibly busy and sometimes it seems easier to leave our kids at home rather than drag them around with us on our errands -- or paying a lot more for an adult to watch our kids. Still, it just takes one horrifying incident like this for parents to re-think their habit of letting kids babysit kids.

Do you think 12 is too young to babysit?

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM
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by Anonymous 1 on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM
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Depends on the child and the age of the children being babysat and how long, etc.

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM
9 moms liked this

I don't think a 15 year old would have been any better. No sitter could fend off a knife-wielding intruder. Some 12 year olds are ready for responsibility and some are not. I started sitting when I was 11. I was tall for my age and everyone thought I was older than I was. A sitter should be with the children they are sitting for, not in another part of the house, unless the kids are in bed, in which case the sitter should be situated between the door and the kids with a phone in reach.

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:35 PM
6 moms liked this

No, 12 is a good age to start babysitting for a few hours at a time. This was a freak incident outside of the norm. Had the babysitter been a 16 year old, I think it would have made very little difference. The intruder came in with intent to stop whoever was in the way and could have very likely caught a full grown adult off guard and overpowered them. Very sad all around.

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:38 PM
I started babysitting at that age. but i wouldn't trust my 11yo sis with my baby. maturity is a major factor!
by NKOTB on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:39 PM
No, I started babysitting at that age but I also believe maturity plays a role.
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by Anonymous 2 on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:39 PM
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Yes, but not because of the story mentioned. I just don't think 12yos are mature enough.

I tend to think the specific situation mentioned easily could have happened if an adult were present and in another part of the house.

by Anonymous 3 on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:43 PM
I started at 9, but I asked my mom if my 12 yr old sister could watch my 8 month old and she said no she said shes not mature enough, so I guess it depends on the person
by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:46 PM

I agree about maturity playing a big role in that decision but in general I think 12 year old's are okay to babysit for short periods of time.

by Platinum Member on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:48 PM

No I don't. 

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM
Well, the 12 year old is considered a potential suspect at this point because he was on the scene. So, it makes the situation unique. The Red Cross certifies babysitters that young, so I say yes as long as the child demonstrates the maturity.
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