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Mother Arrested for Using 13-yr-old as Babysitter

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Mother Arrested for Using 13-yr-old as Babysitter

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by Kim Shannon from Buzzworthy Bulletins

When does one become qualified to babysit? Is there a specific age or grade level that accurately measures the aptness of a sitter?

A 39-year-old woman was arrested for leaving her four children – ages 13, 10, 4, and 1 1/2 – alone at home while she attended church. According to this article, she left the children in the care of her eldest child; but when a neighbor called the police, stating that the 4-year-old wandered into the yard across the street alone, this mother was charged with “risk of injury to a minor.”

Some people are criticizing the mom, while others are pointing fingers at the neighbor, “accusing her of acting in anything but a neighborly way.”

When I was 13 years old, my parents felt I was qualified enough to be entrusted with my 9-year old sister and 5-year-old brother while my mom went to the grocery store, or while my parents went out to dinner for a Friday-evening date. I don’t know if they would have done the same if I’d had an even younger sibling; but regardless, they were never gone that long, and they were never too far away. If my younger brother had wandered out into a neighbor’s yard, I think that neighbor would’ve walked him back over to my house and then, perhaps, stayed until my parents returned. Or, that neighbor may have just returned him and scolded me, warning me about the possible dangers, and would’ve later told my parents what had happened.

I also don’t think my little brother would’ve wandered off without my knowledge. I was a bossy 13-year-old, and I loved authority and responsibility. My siblings probably hated when I was left in charge. I was a helicopter babysitter, just as I am a helicopter mom (I make no apologies for my hover-hover-hovering).

Times have definitely changed since I was 13 and children wandering out in streets or into neighbors’ yards can lead to much more dangerous situations than they once would have; but have the times changed so much that using a 13-year-old babysitter is considered child neglect, or “risk of injury to a minor”?

When does one become qualified to babysit? What do you think?

by on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Replies (121-130):
by Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:34 PM
I babysat at age ten. My siblings were ages 9, 7 and 4. My mother worked the day shift and we had to stay in the tiny apartment all summer long. It really sucked and she was a bad mother, anyway. But after I went to live with my dad I started babysitting at 14 for other families and did quite well. I worked a lot and was always in demand in my neighborhood. If I ever had a problem with really bad kids I called my dad (getting locked out of the house, or kids that just would not listen), which was very rare. But that was in the seventies and things were different then.
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by Silver Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Thank god in our state we don't have any age to be left home alone.  It would be more than acceptable for a 13yr old. 

My son has been watching his little brother since he was 12 ish.  Wonder what they would say that I let my 15yr old to house sit for friends houses from anywhere from 2-7days at a time.

by Bronze Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:46 PM

My friends daughter babysat my daughter when she was 13 and my daughter was 9. If they are responsible I don't see a problem with it.

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by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM
2 moms liked this

  wow. i just finished reading the post about the CVS employee who MURDERED a man for stealing toothpaste and walked away scott free. But a woman goes to church and leaves her teenager (whom I'm sure she trusted and felt was mature enough) in charge of her siblings and she gets arrested?????

And to say the teenager was not mature enough is not complettely fair. I am 29, I am a very devoted, hands on mother who is extremely attentive, but a similar situation happened to me last year. We have a sun room where my then 2 year old loved to sit and look outside. One day he wanted to sit out there so I locked the outside door and let him sit on the couch and eat his crackers while I changed my newborns diaper. Not five minute llater I went to check on him and he was gone. He had managed to unlock the door (which I had no idea he knew how to do) and had run to the neighbors house in his diaper. She was holding his hand and smiling, walking him back home. I was bursting with tears. She calmed me down and said "hey, I know how it is, I raised kids myself!"


by Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM
This does not sound right. I was babysitting as a paid job at that age! I was the oldest of 4 girls and I was left alone to care for my sisters when I was 7, which is too young. I think mom needed a break and it's okay for her to go to church, but it depends how much mothering she is expecting the 13 year old to do. When I was 13 my sisters never ended up outside wandering around. Sounds like the 13 year old is not ready to babysit yet, or she is being expected to do too much for mom too often. I think arresting the mom was completely out of line, but I don't know the whole story.
by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM
.......well to some people it IS okay.

Like I said in the first sentence, it's legal in most states for a 13 yr olds to watch their siblings.

Quoting autodidact:

wow. church just makes EVERYTHING ok. eye rolling

Quoting mlg1989:

In a lot if states 13 is the legal age you can babysit your own siblings anyway. :/ I think its ridiculous! She was at church not a club.

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by Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 3:01 PM


by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 3:03 PM
My state law has no age. Whatever the parents deem responsible. I would leave my 9 yr old in charge before my 12 yr old.
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by Bronze Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 3:24 PM

I took a babysitting certification class at 13.  I started being a mothers helper at 11 and then was trusted to babysit, usually for no more than 3 hours at a time, by 13.  I watched a 9 y/o, 6y/o and 2y/o.  

For family 13 is definitely old enough.  Even for neighbors or friends 13 is old enough.  And seriously, mom was at church she would have been gone for what 3 hours total?  Most families these days have cell phones so any of the older children should have easily been able to reach mom if needed.

by Bella on Jan. 20, 2013 at 3:38 PM


Quoting Peanutx3:

Good grief!  13 is plenty old enough.


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