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Old 02-24-2005, 04:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Franklinville, NJ
Babysitting question

Hi, I live in New Jersey and have 2 children ages 4 and 5. I found out that last weekend when my kids were at my ex's, she took them to the movies and left them there with their 12 year old sister. My son, the 4 year old, told me proudly that he was allowed to walk out of the theater and go to the bathroom and back to the theater all on his own. His sister backed up the story saying that their 12 year old sister stayed and watched the movie while he was going to the potty.

I know this 12 year old. She lived with my ex and I for 5 years and she was the most disrespectful, ignorant person I have ever known. Personally I am outraged because I don't think she is even CLOSE to responsible enough to be watching my kids in a public setting where there are 100's of strangers around.

Now my question is, what is the age that a person can babysit. My ex says that she only needs to be 11, but afaik, it is 12 IF she is Red Cross certified AND it is in the private home, not in a public place. Can anyone tell me who is right?
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Its going to depend on the maturity of the child. I started babysitting at 11....and by the time I was 12 I was the only babysitter used in the neighborhood lol

I had been in girlscouts since I was 7 so I had been thru first aid/cpr/what to do in emergencies/fire training etc.

I dont know about public places...I sat with 5 & 6 year olds in movies when I was 11...but they most certainly didnt go to the bathroom alone, thats outrageous.

I could be wrong but I dont believe there is a "permitable" age for someone to be a babysitter or anything that says the babysitter HAS to be certified in anything.....I know some groups that list babysitters require things like that, but I dont think its a law or anything.
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd just like to add...my daughter is 11 1/2 and sits with a few little girls on our street.....daytime only....and only when I or her grandmother (who lives on the same stree) are at home, incase of emergencies. She started out sitting for them when their mother was at home for a few hours so she could get her feet wet, the mothers were very good....they let her do what they wanted her to do and even set up a few tests...such as having someone come to the door...call on the phone etc to see how she would handle the situations. Then the mothers graduated to leaving her alone with the little girls, but being only one or two houses away.....then graduated to having her come over when they went grocery shopping or to the bank or something.

Its working quite well....she's learning real responsibility and making her own money, Im so proud of her
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Franklinville, NJ
Thanks for your response. I guess what has me freaked out was that its in a public place, in a not too good neighborhood, and that he went to the bathroom by himself. There was a story recently of an 8 y.o. was raped and left for dead and I guess hearing that and thinking of him all alone just made me scared.

I mean what if he got lost and couldnt find his way back to the theater??? Its dark in the theaters too... what if he went in and sat next to someone and THAT person was some kind of deviant. So many possibilities for things to go wrong that its just scary.
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would have had a coniption fit if someone had done that with my child....we are talking serious freaking out.

Unless she was told that was ok for her to do (and its still not an excuse in my book) she's not a good candidate for babysitting.
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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No their mother took them there and dropped them off... THAT is who my beef is with.
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow there's a few things I see wrong with that. Around here I don't know the rules per-se but the 11 and 12 yr olds I know are all talking about getting their babysitting certificates. Perhaps it's offered in the schools dunno. I do know that they are supposed to be 12 around here and I can guarantee that sending a 4 yr old to the bathroom (my daughter is 4) alone in a public place is NOT responsible babysitting behavior.

It's all up to you - not the rules if you don't feel she's not mature enough then she's not mature enough for your kids. I realize though that since she's their Mother you need the rules behind you. I suggest you contact a local person who can tell you the rules in your area. Perhaps start with the local schools. Ask a person in the school office who would know about the laws regarding teens babysitting. They are pretty likely to at least know WHO to talk to. If you get no results there call the social services and health department. Just ask them what the regulations for teens who babysit are and if they're required to be certified. That's who I contact for Daycare certification - Social services and health department (they're in the same office for us here). If all that gets no results at all you can call the local police department and ask what the regs are. They of all people should know. Ask around. It's important that you know the rules. I would perhaps report this lapse in responsibility to create a written account of it for further reference should it become a big debate. At the very least record the important details yourself - date, time, names, locations, etc. It may come in handy later on.

Personally it was very irresponsible of the mom and the 12 yr old. Definately would not be happening again if I had any control over it all.
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I looked and looked for regulations by state for teenagers to babysit in someones home...the only thing I can find are regulations for "day care workers". I couldnt find one single thing that said...you cannot have someone watch your child unless they are certified and X number of years old
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Old 02-24-2005, 07:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You left them in the custody of your ex-wife, not the 12-year-old. That is what the main point should be. Just because it makes your ex seem 'cool' to your kids, you should let her know that if your kids got kidnapped, she wouldn't look so cool in jail for child negligance.

I must add that you shouldn't blame the 12-year-old. A kid that age doesn't really know the right thing to do, just what might make her feel like a cool big sister.
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Old 02-24-2005, 09:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If I had a 4 year old in someone's care and found out that child was left to use a public facility on his/her own, it'd take an army to hold me back. And if I had found out my 12 year old was the one who did that, she'd never babysit again.
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Old 02-25-2005, 07:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It really depends on the maturiry of the 12 year old, but in any regard, not in a public place and I don't think it should be for very long. I've seen guidelines from Social Service agencies and they recommend 12 as a minimum for kids to stay by themselves.
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Old 02-25-2005, 08:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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i think now might be a good time to talk to your two little ones about their safety in public places. don't scare the hell out of them, but let them know that they shouldn't be going anywhere alone in public without someone older with them (make your own judgements about how old that should be). tell them that what happened wasn't safe because someone could have hurt them. if they are ever in that situation again and need to go to the bathroom, have them insist that their sister take them. if she declines, tell them to start screaming at her if they have to but under no circumstances should they go by themselves. when the usher shows up to find out what is wrong, their sister can explain why she wouldn't leave the movie to take them to the potty.

i started babysitting early, i was prolly about 9 or 10 when watching kids in my home and 11 or 12 when i started going to their homes. i was never certified in anything. to my knowledge, there is no law saying i needed to be.

but really, i'd take it up with the ex. let her know that you simply aren't comfy with her daughter watching the kids in public. it is too much responsibility for a child that age to watch two small kids in a crowded public area. how many times have we seen stories of kids abducted when it was one small child and the parent was standing right next to them? this just isn't a good idea any way you look at it.
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Old 02-25-2005, 10:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I found the following rescources online. All of them list an age of 11 minimum and the ages for taking the case are for 11-15 yr olds. I cannot find online an article that was in our local paper. It was simply about a babysitting course for children 11-15 yrs old. One article I read but did not link to because it was from the UK said that it was recommended that any teen younger than 16 take a babysitting course. I also know that my neighbor where we used to live was not allowed to have anyone younger than 12 stay with her daughter. She was divorced and those were the regulations of their situation. I believe the issue had come up since he'd left the 10 yr old alone at his home. When she found out she had a conniption fit and called her lawyer who looked up the laws. You should perhaps check with a lawyer depending on how serious you want to get. They might be able to just quickly tell you if it could be an issue.

http://www.redcross.org/services/hss...babyindex.html

http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_d...FC&sub_cat=106

http://www.aap.org/family/sitting.htm

Personally this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I'm a day care provider and former teacher. I've seen too many kids left unattended or in inadequate care and bad things come of it. If anything had happened to your 4 yr old you can be sure that the 12 yr old would not have been held responsible. Your wife would have been the one held responsible. That might be something to think about.
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Old 02-27-2005, 06:55 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Franklinville, NJ
I really wasn't blaming the 12 y.o. simply because I don't think she should have been put in that situation to begin with.

I talked to my ex about it and she got all pissy and said we are going to court because she wants joint custody (I have full custody at this time). Sigh.....

Thanks everyone for all your help. I guess its up to the judge and my (over priced) lawer to figure things out now.....
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Old 02-27-2005, 06:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BurntToast
I really wasn't blaming the 12 y.o. simply because I don't think she should have been put in that situation to begin with.

I talked to my ex about it and she got all pissy and said we are going to court because she wants joint custody (I have full custody at this time). Sigh.....

Thanks everyone for all your help. I guess its up to the judge and my (over priced) lawer to figure things out now.....

You do have a right to voice your feelings about the capabilities of your child's caregivers, no matter who they are. Your Ex wouldn't want you to leave your child with just anyone,and thus she has to respect your concerns.
I hope all goes well for you.
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Old 03-04-2005, 10:57 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Good luck with your court case. If your ex exhibits the kind of judgement that she did with the movie theater in all situations, then her custody bid should go nowhere.

My perspective is a little different because my oldest (of 3) is only 4 1/2. I can tell you that there is no way on earth that I would laeve him in a public place (like a movie theater) merely under the "supervision" of a 12 year-old. Never. To me that child endangerment.

Having a 12 year-old neighbor sit in my house, while my kids were asleep, and the sitter's parents were at home "just in case" might be acceptable to me for a few hours, but as a rule, we look for sitters who are at least 17.

You tried to talk with your ex about the situation, but it looks like the court will have to be the final decision maker. Definitely bring this up in the hearing...
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:27 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks, I could fill up a page with things that she has done in the past, but I really don't think is the right time or place. My lawyer says that she has no shot at getting anything done with her colorful past so to that extent I feel safe. However if the judge by some stroke of bad luck feels she is entitled to having the kids without supervised visitation... then all I can do is hope that nothing happens to them.
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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12 in a public place? No Fucking Way. The 12 YO can be perfect -- a stranger can always be stronger, faster, smarter than any 12 year old I know. In a private home, a 12 yo with instruction can be OK. Not in a movie theater. Make noise about this.

I have an ex who likes to leave my sons (9 and 11) in the car alone in the parking lot for an hour or two while she shops. Drives me out of my mind.
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
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alone in the car while she shops?? isnt that child endangerment?? doesn't that = jail time??
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:59 PM   #20 (permalink)
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BurntToast -- how I wish it was so! She's a lawyer. My lawyer told me "Unless you have a videotape of her shooting up with your kids, you will never get a neglect charge to stick to a mother who's a lawyer in Connecticut." It is what it is.
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:02 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Wow... that really sucks...time to get out the spy cams
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:13 PM   #22 (permalink)
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BT and meembo, congrats on being involved, loving, protective dads! Do what is best for your children. There safety is what is best! Please keep them out of dangerous situations, even if it involves their mothers.

Personally, I'd give the older children a cell phone and have them call me next time she goes shopping. Then I'd simply drive over and pick them up. First take a few pictures to protect yourself. Then get them out of the car and away from her!

As for the 4-year-old, visits would be out of the question until firmer rules are established. Although most states have laws stating that 12 is old enough to babysit, that doesn't mean the 12-year-old wants to babysit. Once the rules are established, share them with the girl. Have her call you if she is left alone with the younger children. She, most likely, doesn't want the burden of caring for them. Pick up the toddlers and pay her for her time (so she won't miss out and will know that you aren't mad at her, but at the situation.)

Good luck to both of you!
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:27 PM   #23 (permalink)
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BurntToast - you probably already know this, but document *everything* to do with the ex and the kids. It really helps if you have to go to court. Even if you don't have any proof, keep a diary of things like when exactly this movie incident occured, how often she does/doesn't call, when she gets visitation, when she misses visitation and why, etc. It doesn't really count as proof of much, since it is still your word that these things happened the way you recorded them, but it is a lot nicer to be able to tell the judge 'she called only twice between January and April, missed her visitation for Christmas because she said she couldn't get out of work, etc'. Compare that to: 'She hardly ever calls the kids, and misses her visitation with them sometimes.' It's a lot more believable when you back it up with details.

Yes, I have full custody of my son from my first marriage - and intend to keep it that way!
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:50 PM   #24 (permalink)
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My girlfriend has a four year old little sister and their mom picked a candidate she thought was a good babysitter. It is one of my girlfriend's school pals and we will call him John. John and the mother are pretty close from an incident that happened awhile back and so she trusted him to babysit her child. So last night i go over to my girlfriend's house to hang out while John is babysitting and i find out that he has gone out that night alone not to mention the hundred of times he has babysat before and gotten high with his friends while the baby was in the car. On top of that he went off roading with her and got in a wreck while she was in the car. Now the child doesn't know any different so she wasnt gonna say anything but i sure did. I went off on him about endangering the life of a four year old child.
This morning i went over there and took over babysitting responsibilities with my girlfriend and even though it was hell and free work i did it for about 12 hours. I talked to my girlfriend and we told her mom when she came home tonight about some of it, just enough to get him off the babysitting list. All i know is that when you are babysitting you are responsible for the life of another human being and if at any moment your judement lapses you are not only responsible for yourself but now that child or children so I say you get something done about this because who knows what might happen next time.

Last edited by Funnel; 03-06-2005 at 09:52 PM..
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