Defense Against Crime

09/11/2009

Selecting who is watching your children

Filed under: Crime Prevention — peppereyes @ 4:57 PM
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How many is too many?

SUMMERVILLE — A 3-year-old girl is dead, her caretaker is in jail and her mother is in Michigan trying to raise money to return to South Carolina.

Authorities say they responded to 207 Congaree River Drive in the Lakes of Summerville subdivision about 7 p.m. Tuesday and found the toddler unresponsive. She was taken to Summerville Medical Center, where she later died, town police Capt. Jon Rogers said.

Rogers said they arrested the child’s 23-year-old caretaker who lived at the house. Investigators charged Erica Mae Butts with homicide by child abuse following an autopsy Wednesday that showed the child died from full body trauma, Rogers said.

In another story

CHIPLEY, Fla. (AP) – Investigators spent five days searching a rural area of dense vines and marshes for a missing infant, only to find her lying quietly in a 2-foot by 3-foot cedar box that had been shoved under her baby sitter’s bed. Clothing was packed around it to muffle any sounds and baking soda placed inside to mask the stench of dirty diapers.

Authorities said the baby’s mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, gave the infant to baby sitter Susan Elizabeth Baker early Saturday, then reported her missing about 10 hours later. About 100 law enforcement agents and others spent days scouring around the baby’s home in a remote, makeshift community of dirt roads, tin-roof shacks and old mobile homes. Searchers also dug through trash cans and bins.

When a child is missing, abducted, killed, or sexually molested –it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Tragically, the abduction and molestation are frequently linked. Statistics published by the FBI indicate that there is one sexual predator for every square mile. I pray as much as you do that no parent has to endure the pain of having any of these events happen to their children.  According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, almost 75 percent of the abducted children who become victims of homicide are killed within the first two to three hours of being taken. The faster you provide the law enforcement community with essential information, the more likely it is that your child will be found alive. 

 One of the major concerns of my new parents is how to find an honest responsible person to care for and protect their children.  According to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, baby-sitters are responsible for 4.2 percent of all reported crimes against children.

 So what can you do to select a person who will be someone who you can actually trust to care for your children? It is preferable to personally interview several prospective sitters. Observe their interaction with your children. Look for mature and responsible people who listen and respond well to your children and appear relaxed and happy with them. Be specific about your expectations. Ask for a number of references (e.g., past employers, teachers, counselors, relatives, friends, neighbors.)

The first step is to confirm that you have his or her full name, address, e-mail address home and cell hone numbers. If the sitter is not an adult, you should also meet his or her parents, and ask them questions about their character, maturity, and ability to be responsible. Remember to listen to your inside voice, over what you see and hear.

Secondly, once you have made a tentative selection, check all references carefully.  Assure references that their comments will not be revealed to anyone, including the sitter.

Ask, the following questions:

  • Do they believe that the sitter possesses the ability, responsibility, maturity, and qualifications to care for children?
  • How long did he/she work for you?
  • How were they with their children?
  • How was their relations with this person?
  • Were they ever late?
  • Do you consider them to be trustworthy?
  • Would the still allow this person to care for their children?
  • Did they do anything such as drinking or smoking around the children?
  • How was their personality around the children?
  • How did handle the children when they misbehaved?
  • What types of activities did they do with the children?

 If anything said by a reference makes you feel uncomfortable, it may be best to select another person to care for your children.

Thirdly, if you want to you can do a informal background check, you can Google their name, of check out their Facebook or Myspace profile. On some social networks, you can see what social groups the person belongs to. Believe it or not, lots of young people have more on the internet about them than they think. There are free site that will allow you to put in a person’s name and e-mail address and tell you all about a person. Scary but true. I’m not posting them here, but if you ask around someone can tell you a few.  I did the a month ago, and I was almost surprised these sites did tell what I last ate.

You should also do a criminal history check, check the sexual offender registry, address history. A person who changes addresses frequently without cause should signal a yellow alert.

Meeting the Potential Sitter

Your first meeting with your sitter should be in a neutral location, so that if something is “not right” with you, you can politely say something like “ I’m still interviewing sitters and will be making a decision soon.”  This was the person will not know where you live, and hopefully you haven’t told them. If you select this person you can meet them at your residence.

 When the Sitter Arrives

 If the sitter has not been in your home before, conduct a brief tour of the house. Point out the location of telephones, first-aid equipment, doors and other possible exits. Ensure that the sitter fully understands specific responsibilities and your general expectations.

 This includes knowing:

  • How to contact you. Write down where you will be (address and telephone number) and your cellular number.
  • Emergency telephone numbers: relatives, friends or neighbors and emergency services
  • They should NEVER leave the children unsupervised at any time.
  • Family rules, including disciplinary guidelines.
  • Daily routines, including eating, television, and sleeping arrangements.
  • About any food allergies that your children may have.
  • That all outside doors should be kept locked and to never open the door for anyone (unless you have given prior permission.)
  • That information should not be given to callers. Sitters should tell a caller that you are unavailable and should take the call back information.
  • That children should be watched closely while awake, especially if taken outside, and should be checked regularly after they have gone to sleep.
  • Who the children may play with or visit.
  • Rules associated with use of your belongings (e.g., telephones, computers, appliances.)
  • That friends or acquaintances are not be invited into your home.

Parents are also responsible for ensuring that children understand that the babysitter is in charge and that they are expected to respect them and follow all family rules.

If possible periodically call home to check to see how things are going.

When You Return Home

When you return home, you should always have a discussion with the babysitter.

Ask about:

  • Their interaction with the children.
  • Telephone messages
  • Anything out of the ordinary.

After the babysitter has left, talk to your children about what happened while you were gone. Ask them:

  • If anything made them feel afraid or uncomfortable.
  • If they would like him or her to babysit again.
  • If you have a nanny cam, review the recorded images.

By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking responsibility to protect themselves, their cars, or their possessions .In today’s society being equipped mentally and physically is no longer an option.

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