Is 11 too young to babysit?

I am very upset by the front-page story today about the 11-year-old babysitter who will most likely be charged in the death of a 2-year-old.

From The AJC’s story:

“The girl died over the weekend as the result of a head injury and blunt force trauma, the medical examiner’s officer told the AJC. The case is being investigated as a homicide, Lt. Steve Rose with Sandy Springs police said Tuesday.”

“The Sandy Springs toddler, whose name has not been released, suffered cranial cerebral trauma and blunt force trauma to her torso and buttocks, said Jon Hager with the medical examiner’s office.”

“Rose said the injuries occurred at the residence of the babysitter, who is the daughter of a co-worker of the victim’s mother. The mother picked the child up late Saturday night and called 911 upon seeing her child. The child was taken to Scottish Rite Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after midnight.”

“The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will determine what charges will be filed and if the babysitter will be charged as an adult or child.”

We don’t know any of the specifics of what happened but I’m wondering if an 11-year-old should even have been put in the position of babysitting?

I guess I started sitting when I was in fifth grade. I was probably 12. Looking back on it now, it seems way too early. I wouldn’t let a 12-year-old watch my kids unless I was in the house working on something and I could hear all the interaction (more as a mother’s helper.) I had a 14-year-old stop by last week to tell me she was in business to sit and I just kept thinking she couldn’t handle my three.

I’m sure the maturity level varies child to child but I hate that this child is now in the position of being charged with a crime and another family has lost their baby.

Could this have been avoided? Should there be a mandatory age for babysitters? How young is too young to babysit? What is the youngest babysitter you’ve ever hired, for how many kids and what kind of sitting (mother’s helper or at night)?

75 comments Add your comment

mom2alex&max

September 22nd, 2010
12:54 pm

I looked it up:

According to the National Child Care Information Center, only Maryland and Illinois have specific laws stipulating the age at which a child can be left home alone.

However, the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left home alone.

So there u have it.

Kevin

September 22nd, 2010
12:56 pm

If you can’t drive/have access to an automobile, then you have no business babysitting a 2 year old – the mother should be brought up on child negect charges.

Sue

September 22nd, 2010
1:27 pm

Wouldn’t have left my 2 year old child with an 11 year old child….wouldn’t have my 11 year old babysit without my supervision, and if there was supervision during the times when the child was in care of an 11 year old, this wouldn’t have ever happened..Come on parents wake up!!! I agree with some of the comments above about, that an 11 year old child is NOT mature enough to care for a 2 year old child, and Kevin your right if you don’t have a license to drive..don’t drive……

Beth

September 22nd, 2010
2:02 pm

I think the maturity level has decreased with each successive generation. Therefore, I would not allow anyone under 13 watch my toddler in this day and age. However, please do not turn this into a referendum on the mother’s decision. Where is the father, for goodness sakes? If the 11 year old was a co-worker’s daughter, then, you don’t know what decision you would have made, given the circumstances.

JATL

September 22nd, 2010
2:16 pm

@Beth -the dead toddler’s father has been on all the news interviews standing there with the mother.

ldrb

September 22nd, 2010
2:29 pm

I agree with all who say they babysat when they were 11/12. So did I, but times were very different and I grew up REALLY REALLY quick!11/12 year olds today are not the same as they were in 19__?LOL I was not only responsible for the children, but also house work, dishes, laundry etc. and I only made $2 per hour and appreciated it greatly. I don’t know if young kids today know how to “appreciate” what they are offered. :)

stephania

September 22nd, 2010
2:52 pm

What isn’t noted in many of the articles surrounding this case is that the toddler was left in the care of the 11 year old AND her mother. I’d like to know what mom was doing during all of this. It surely was not a silent process.

stephania

September 22nd, 2010
2:59 pm

“Ashlea Collier, the toddler’s mother, said she left her daughter with a co-worker and the co-worker’s daughter. When she came to get Zyda White after getting off work, the child was lying in bed, her eyes wide open and her skin turning blue” from the article:
http://www.aolnews.com/crime/article/baby-sitter-11-charged-with-murdering-2-year-old-zyda-white/19644139

Nicole

September 22nd, 2010
3:06 pm

It really truly just depends on the 11 year old. This is not a one kind answer for all across the board. This is truly a question that is based on each individual. I baby sat our neighbors children (ages 5 and 8) when I was 11. From 4pm till 7pm twice a week. The only problem I had was in getting the 9 year old to actually listen to me, but that was simply fixed when his mother came home and I told her whatever it was, he was punished..little by little he began to behave. But basically we played games for those 3 hours and I was just fine with them. From there I turned 12 and began babysitting those children, along with another neighbors children because I was recommended by the first mom. I still have my friendship with those children 19 years later, and their kids play with my kids :) after I was no longer babysitting them, there was another family in the neighborhood and they had 6 children. I was 13, had to make them dinner, help them with their homework, and get them into bed. Their dad worked at Dairy Queen and he would bring me home ice cream every night, lol. I was even able to still keep up with my school work. Then, I would go to work with my mother on Sundays, where they had work meetings, some would bring their kids and I would watch those children till the meetings were over, at that point I had calls all over the place and it was literally someone calling each night, I made quite a bit of money for a 13 year old. One job was a single mom who had two children ages 4 and 18mths. One was another married couple who had a 14mth old baby boy. The best one I had though was closest to my heart. A friend of my moms had two little boys, aged 3 and an infant….the baby died of SIDS, her and the father divorced after she became pregnant with twins. Being a single mom she now needed a babysitter. They were born early and had to have heart monitors attached to them, along with pulse counters. 6 weeks old and I watched them plus their baby brother who had turned 4 by then from 7am till 6pm when she came home. I was only 13, 6 months away from going on 14..I had them on a schedule, I potty trained the 3 year old and worked on him with his letters, numbers, colors, and shapes so he was actually ready for preschool when the summer was over. After summer was over I took the bus from school to her house and watched them from 3pm till 10pm at night. That was till they themselves went to Kindergarten..they still send me christmas cards and mother’s day cards to this day. On the flip side of that? My sister is not even capable now to watch her own children, let alone to have baby sat at 11 :) I have two girls now, ages 9 and 3. My 9 year old is absolutely wonderful with our 3 year old and I would have no problem with her babysitting at age 11…my niece who is the same age? (they are 20 days apart) not so much. So, it really truly is a different answer for each individual, because it doesn’t come down so much to age as it does maturity and capability.

Jen

September 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

I would never let an 11 year old watch my child alone. Now if this 11 year olds mother was at home, then why isn’t this mother being charged? Where was she when this 11 year old was around the 2 year old? Something is being left out of this story.

I have a 15 month old son and 13 and 16 year old step-daughters. I let them watch him when I’m at home. If I had to run to the store I’m sure they are fine with him. But if I needed a night out, he goes to grandmas house. I don’t know if they would know what to do if he started choking or crying so hard. They wouldn’t know what to do or how to calm him since he’s teething. Only adults whom have had previous infant care beforehand watches my child. If no one is around to watch him, then I don’t go out. Period.

Cheri

September 22nd, 2010
3:30 pm

I teach 11 year old students. From my experience with this age group, I would NOT trust most of them with the responsibilities of babysitting. Although there are a few who could probably manage, the majority of 11 year old kids are not mature enough to react to the variety of situations that arise in the care of babies/toddlers.

The young girl who committed this heinous crime should, without a doubt, be punished. I also think, however, that the parents of the infant are at fault. Where were they? I don’t care what they were doing, they should have had the common sense not to leave an infant with a child. The sad part is that the parents were probably out partying…thus leaving their innocent baby in the hands of an unqualified/irresponsible kid. When a person has a child, all other rights go out the window…and the decision to let an unstable/unfit/too young sitter take care of his/her child should reflect back upon the irresponsibility of the parent.

*I am eager to see if the parents take ANY blame whatsoever. Probably not. Fault will always be thrust upon someone else. “Why can’t parents have fun, too?!” Because you gave up your right to party whenever you feel like it when you got pregnant!! AMERICA…. THE REASON OUR COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL IS BECAUSE OF PEOPLE REPRODUCING BEFORE THEY ARE MATURE ENOUGH TO HANDLE THE RESPONSIBILITY. WAKE UP!*

gcmom

September 22nd, 2010
3:35 pm

I have an 11 year old daughter, and I hire a babysitter for her when I work late. How can you place that much responsibility on a little girl. I hope the chrges are dropped. I say charge the mother for placing the safety of her child on another child. Seems like she’s the scapegoat for some pretty pathetic parents.

ASH

September 22nd, 2010
3:56 pm

I agree with most posts here. I baby-sat several infants at once when I was young, but there was always an adult nearby (i.e. in the house). Whatever happened is wrong, but the parent has to bear some responsibility and accountability for leaving a 2 year old with an 11 year old. I have 3 children and I would never leave mine with anyone under 16. Most children these days do not possess the mental capacity to look after a toddler/baby. They are too involved in themselves (texting, email, talking on the phone, video games, etc) to effectively watch anyone else. When you leave your child with someone you expect to come back and find them in the condition you left them. Who wants to trust that to an 11 year old? I feel bad for the mother, but there is truly more going on with this story than we are being told.

Denise

September 22nd, 2010
4:26 pm

If the mother left the child with an adult and a child, where did the adult go so that the child was alone with the toddler?

As for an 11 year old babysitting, I wouldn’t think so now because kids now can’t even walk down the street without their parents. They can’t leave the house without a cell phone. God forbid they want to spend the night over a friend’s house. Nope, can’t do it. So they don’t know anything about setting up boundaries and standards for themselves – they don’t even know how to handle simple (to us older folks) interactions and situations so how can they handle a spur of the moment decision with a 2-year-old. And I’m 37 and I don’t want to keep some 2-year-olds. My niece wears me out and I need a nap when I’m done with her.

cat

September 22nd, 2010
6:22 pm

as an 11yr old they have not even matured no way this child should be punished nor should she have been left alone ,because of the stupid mistake two children have lost there lives the 11 yr old will need counseling for the rest of her life .

barbara

September 22nd, 2010
7:56 pm

The Georgia law requires a babysitter must be 13 yrs of age . What was the Mother of the 2 yr old thinking? What responsbility is she taking in all of this orm is the law going to charge her with child neglect?

Not sure it was the 11yo

September 22nd, 2010
9:26 pm

I really don’t think the 11 yo was babysitting because her mother was suppose to be there with her…I’m wondering if the child was dead before the mother of the 11 yo left the house. I think she wanted an alternate motive bc she beat the child to death and left to make it seem as though she wasnt there and her daughter did it…leaving the 11 yo child to be blamed bc they know the child wont get as much time as the adult. Something really weird and I think I’ve figured it out!
S/N: I babysat when I was 11. It depends on the child but really, I think there is more to this story.

Sal

September 22nd, 2010
9:53 pm

Theresa, if you were 12 and still in the 5th grade I definitely wouldn’t let you babysit.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 22nd, 2010
10:06 pm

Sal — I am soo offended. I was the BEST babysitter ever even at a very young age!! Extremely responsible, very safety conscious, lots of games, drawing and outside time, not much TV time. Always gave baths, made good dinners and made sure the house was picked up before they got home.

Mika

September 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

Is 11 too young to babysit? Yes, I think so. Psychologically, I don’t think an 11 year old is adult enough to take on the job as a caretaker. I strongly believe that toddlers require adult supervision, and a great deal of adult supervision. An 11 year old is not an adult and should not be expected to provide parental supervision to a toddler. When my children were 11 years old, I would not leave them unsupervised at night alone. When my children were 11 years of age, they had a babysitter watch them when I went out for the evening. I couldn’t imagine leaving an 11 yr old home alone at night, let alone leaving a 2 year old under the care of an 11 year old. Additonally there are many laws that protect children under the age of 12 from being unsupervised. Legally, according to NBC news Augusta
“Georgia law makes it pretty clear. Between the ages of 9 and 12, you can leave a child alone for up to two hours. Age 12 and up, no more than 12 hours at a time.”

The death of Zyda White is very sad, very tragic. There’s a lot of facts missing in the story. Did Ashlea Collier (Zyda’s mother) leave her baby under the direct supervision of her coworker Kiyosha Bell? Or did Ashlea Collier know that Kiyosha Bell’s 11 year old daughter would be watching Zyda all by herself that evening? In a news interview, Kiyosha suggests that she and Ashlea arrived at the house late that evening at the same time, if that’s the case then Ashlea knew that the 11 year old was watching her baby at home alone that evening. Could the 2 year old have received any of those injuries before the 11 year old babysat the child? There’s a lot of unanswered questions in this tragedy.

alawyer

September 23rd, 2010
12:30 pm

I think what matters here is if the mother of the dead child left her baby with the 11 year old or the the child’s mother. It seems like this happened at night, so my big issue is if this was a necessary absence by the mother for work, or if she was merely out socializing and wantonly left her baby with a young child without considering the consequences. I had more sympathy for the mother of the dead child then I do now – I have read in other places that she is calling for a life prison sentence for the 11 year old. That shows an evil mindset of “overpunishing” that may have contributed to the case at hand. Did she ever hit her toddler and call it spanking, and if so, was the 11 year old aware that the mother did this sort of thing? If true, then the mother of the dead child is 100 percent responsible for the death, because she set the example for the 11 year old. I want to know if she ever hit the toddler herself. That’s an important piece of information.

JATL

September 23rd, 2010
1:59 pm

@alawyer -yep, on the news the other night, the dead child’s mother said she wanted the 11 year old to serve a life sentence and that she wanted to take her life away just like she did her baby. I found her repulsive -and also for the fact that she and her baby daddy/husband -who knows? didn’t seem to be terribly broken up about it. They weren’t shedding a tear. I can tell you -if my 2 year old died, which I almost can’t stand to even type, I would be in no shape to be interviewed in a PARKING LOT, much less be calm and collected while doing it.

betty

September 23rd, 2010
2:28 pm

i think there more too the story………where was the mother of the 11 year old??………..then after killing the baby she gave her apple juice……………….something not right in my eyes

JATL

September 23rd, 2010
4:13 pm

I will say, I finally saw a clip where the mother of the 2 year old appears upset. She also says that she left the 2 year old with the 11 year old AND HER MOTHER. I smell the 11 year old being a scapegoat for sure now.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/09/21/georgia.baby.sitter/index.html?iref=obnetwork

Mika

September 23rd, 2010
10:16 pm

It seems the mother of the 11 year old doesn’t think this is her “battle”, by her statment on her facebook page (copied from her facebook, posted September 18th): “THIS BATTLE IS NOT MINES”. By the looks of her facebook activity alone, it doesn’t appear that Kiyosha is concerned about her 11 year old daughter and the heinous crime that was committed (within the past 10 hours she “liked” the following statment her sister posted on facebook “Havin a goog sense of humor is imperative,at some point,the sparks are just embers so you need someone you can laugh with?”). I guess I expected to see remorse, anguish, at the very least numbing silence. I was surpised to see such casual behavior on such a public forum after such a life altering, tragic episode. Something is definitely not right here. I hope more facts emerge and justice is served for little Zyda White.

According to another forum, someone posted that Ashlea & Kiyosha were at work and went for dinner and drinks at Chili’s before coming home, so both knew the 11 yr old was home alone watching the 2 yr old. The two co-workers didn’t get back to the apartment until late that evening, finding Zyda unresponsive in her crib. Kiyosha tried CPR on Zyda, but it was too late.