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

How do you enforce a "mandatory age for babysitting?

September 21st, 2010
3:31 pm

…this is a parental question about comfort with the maturity of whom you choose to watch your kids. We had a 12 year old watch out infant 25 years ago and all worked out well. It is just a matter of who is mature and who is not, no matter what the age…

JATL

September 21st, 2010
3:33 pm

I think at one time it was probably fine and there are probably 11 and 12 year olds now who are mature enough to babysit. However, we have coddled our kids and babied them to the point that most 11 year olds now do NOT have the maturity to babysit. I cannot imagine leaving my kids with an 11 or 12 year old. I did babysit at 12 -I remember that clearly -but it was a different time. Kids today don’t have the level of responsibility they used to -riding bikes all over town, walking to and from school, running errands for mom and dad -elementary aged kids used to do that stuff! This is such a heartbreaking situation for everyone involved.

Mattie

September 21st, 2010
3:37 pm

At the age of twelve I was babysitting overnight for five children. The widowed mother was an emergency room pediatrician who frequently had to work the night shift.

Would I ever hire a preteen to babysit today? No. More was asked of kids when I was young, and we rose to the occasion with corresponding maturity levels.

I don’t know who dropped the ball on this case. Was it the parent who didn’t realize their 11 year old wasn’t ready to watch a young child? Or, was it the parent who turned her toddler over to this child.

Either way, the ultimate responsibility lies in the hands of the little monster who beat a two year old to death.

catlady

September 21st, 2010
3:45 pm

My elder daughter, yes, for short periods with her 7 year old brother and 3 year old sister, with backup available nearby or my phone. Most anyone else, never.

I babysat for a neighbor for short periods (like an hour) at the age of 10 or 11. My folks lived next door, and I could call on them if there was a problem. The baby was a toddler.

mom of 3

September 21st, 2010
4:05 pm

Today an 11 year old is not mature enough to be left alone. Have you been to the mall on a Saturday or to the movies? They dress as if they are 21, cuss like sailors, and all while mom and dad are more involved with matters othering than parenting.
Also, it’s usually the children of parents that have the attitude my daughter would never do that. I loved seeing what I could get by with when I was a pre-teen and teenager and I was just lucky enough to be in a small town where a neighbor could yell at me as easily as my own mom. It does take a village to raise a child because the child has to be afraid of consequenses. I know some of you remember the definition of that word.

HB

September 21st, 2010
4:14 pm

It depends on how mature the sitter is, how old and how well behaved the kids are, and what resources are nearby (for example, if the sitter lives in the neighborhood and there are neighbors that both she and the family know well). In the vast majority of cases, though, no, an 11-year-old will not be ready to babysit, especially for young kids. I think I started sitting at that age, but I was very responsible, only sat for one or two older kids (5 to 9 year-olds) at a time, and lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone else (there was always someone trusted nearby who could be called for help). I was 12 (jr high) when I started keeping toddlers, but as JATL described, my friends and I were pretty independent and responsible by 5th or 6th grade.

Jeff

September 21st, 2010
4:18 pm

People who care enough to make the right decision almost always do make the right decision. The parents on here would know almost instantly if the 11 year old in front of them is capable of supervising a child.

Becky

September 21st, 2010
4:21 pm

I babysat for the first time when I was 7 1/2..Then when I was 12, I had a full time job babysitting my two nephews..So, as others said, I guess it depends on the maturity of the person that you pick..I also agree with what JATL said, things were different when we were younger..Kids (lots) aren’t as mature as they used to be..

JOD

September 21st, 2010
4:32 pm

It seems like we’re all in agreement – I babysat at a young age as well, and it was never an issue. Now, though, I think I would rather have a friend or older neighbor take care of my daughter, and that’s only if her grandparents aren’t available. Things just aren’t the same! That being said, why are pre-teen children in the headlines for fighting and even killing others? What is creating these little ‘monsters’ as Mattie else put it? Clearly empathy is lacking along with any moral compass – who could ever beat a toddler, no matter what kind of tantrum he or she is having? I have a 2-year-old, and this story breaks my heart :(

motherjanegoose

September 21st, 2010
4:46 pm

One question…how does a parent ensure their child is mature and responsible? I think many parents today have never even pondered this question. I would not trust their kids to watch my plants. It is a wonderful day when another adult tells you YOUR OWN CHILD is mature and responsible, even thought you know they have their shortcomings!

My youngest sister was born when I was 13. I knew quite a bit about taking care of an infant. I was sought after by other parents who had babies, as they could count on me. It was sometimes a little scary being with a small baby but I usually knew what to do. I babysat for a family with a baby and 3 siblings under 7.

At 51, there are still some kids I would not want to be in charge of, for more than an hour LOL, including the forementioned family. Those kids were always up to something and I got paid $1 per hour~

I think it has a LOT to do with the personalities of both the sitter and the sittees. Some children are so well behaved you do not even know they are around….others…not so much!

JoAnn

September 21st, 2010
5:54 pm

I don’t think an 11yr. old in today’s society is mature enough to be left alone with a small child. Kids today are too grown, they look and dress too mature for their age, and the parents are the ones buying the clothes.

Robin

September 21st, 2010
7:16 pm

Some parents are willing to take shortcuts with child care, so they don’t have to “pay” someone to watch their kids. 11 year olds don’t charge much. I guess you get what you pay for. Where was the Mother of the 2 year old anyway? What was she doing out late on a Saturday night? There is a lot more to this story than we will ever know.

tina

September 21st, 2010
7:52 pm

11 yrs old is certainly too young to handle the stress of caring for a 2 yr old. I started baby sitting with adult supervision at 12. By the time I could do it on my own at about 14 there were still times I had to call on an adult for help with a fussy baby. If she had no experience at all, it was very irresponsible of both her parents and the parents of the 2 yr old. I hope she didnt need a sitter just so she could go to the club.

Penny

September 21st, 2010
8:01 pm

Sounds like the parent of the toddler wanted to go out on Saturday night with her co-worker leaving the 2 year old with co-worker’s 12 year old until late that night. There’s a reason this age is called the “terrible twos”. The 12 year old may have very well resented being called on to cope with a difficult toddler while the adults went out to play. Maybe the adults involved need to take some responsibility here?

Danny

September 21st, 2010
8:12 pm

To my understanding according to Social Services law children under the age of 12 should not be left home alone. Let alone babysitting any children younger than them. It appears this little girl treated the 2 year old as if she was a rag / baby doll, injuries to the bottom and head. Sounds like she spanked, shooked and slammed. My condolences to both families for your lost and future lost.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 21st, 2010
8:12 pm

there is an update to the story — the sitter was charged in the case. here are all the details.

http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/11-year-old-babysitter-617778.html

Poupon

September 21st, 2010
8:24 pm

Times have not changed that much – only a moron would ever have left an 11 in charge of a 2 yo. I say this even though I happen to have one of those super precocious, calm, mature kids – people have remarked on her maturity all her life ( she’s now 15). I tell kids like this no to confuse natural maturity with seasoning that only experience can bring. It would be unfair to put the responsibility of another human life on her at 11 and frankly, I was of the understanding that it’s illegal to. I didn’t even leave her (or her loopier older brother) home alone until 13, and only after making sure they knew what to do in common emergencies, like fire, and break-ins. Babysitting should begin with kids 4 and up, not babies. They need to understand that a 2 yo can drown in a bucket of water, will drink poisons, can hang themselves on an electrical cord – or put scissors in an outlet, etc.

Those of you who were not kept safe at 2 or at 11 – you just got lucky. Graveyards are full of ones who didn’t.

This girl needs to be removed from her home and fully evaluated to find out the extent of hr problem. Chances are she has been not been parented herself.

Shame on the girl’s parents for allowing her to sit, knowing she had poor impulse control and an anger problem, and double shame on them for allowing her to do it without supervision. Throw THEM in jail! Shame on the 2 yo’s parents for hiring a young child to care for a baby, and for not ensuring one of any age know how to handle an emergency. I get the sense these parents are children themselves.

carrissa

September 21st, 2010
9:18 pm

I just want to know how long the 11 year old was watching the child that day. And why the mother felt o.k. leaving her child with an 11 year old to babysit. I was wondering if the 11 year old spank the child and or playing rough. I just cant see the 11 year old beating a child to death. I think the mother should be charged with something. It just doesnt sound right.

Cynthia M

September 21st, 2010
11:51 pm

I am sorry to have to agree with Carrissa. The mother sure clammed up when asked if she knew the 11 yeard old was watching her daughter. That is SO too young to be responsible for a two year old. This is such a tragic situation in so many different ways.

Qirin

September 22nd, 2010
5:25 am

I find it curious that this child is being charged with murder when Georgia law prohibits criminal responsibility for persons under 12 years of age. I would not be one bit surprised to learn that the 11-year old herself has been the victim of abuse at home. Studies have clearly shown that those who are victims of abuse as children are more likely to become abusers themselves. As a state and as a nation we need to take a serious look at changing our laws to ban corporal punishment, which too often is seen as license to abuse children. Unfortunately, this happened in Georgia and that’s not going to happen. What will happen is that the DA will do everything he can to find a quick resolution and lock this child up for as long as he can without examining the extenuating circumstances.

smh

September 22nd, 2010
5:57 am

It depends on the 11 year old and for how long. I was one of those kids who babysat at an early age. One of the news reports I read indicated that the babysitter had the victim until late in the evening which is a red flag. How long had the babysitter been in charge? Did the babysitter have previous experience w/ young children i.e. a much younger sibling (like I did)? How long had the two adults known each other before allowing one’s child to be in charge of the other? It is surely a sad story. One that shouldn’t happen. In the State of GA, according to DCFS, 13 is the general age for babysitters. To make matters more complicated, the Red Cross offers a babysitting course geared for 11-15 y/o (check their site). Maybe all parties thought they were doing the right thing. We will never know.

sarah

September 22nd, 2010
6:16 am

It certainly is illegal where I live to leave a child that age alone. A child cannot even work until they are 14. My mother left me alone with my older brothers and I was sexually abused for years.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2010
6:33 am

An eleven year old might not be old enough to babysit, but the State of Georgia seems to think they are old enough to become a “lifer”, convicted of murder in the second degree. That means the convict adolescent would spend his life from 11 to 18 in Juvie jail, and then, it’s time to serve the adult portion. He gets out on parole in his middle age…ready to take his place in society.

Won’t that kid’s life suck for its entirety. No hope for freedom and can barely grasp why. What if that was your son?

Of course, the adults that allowed this situation in the first place, get to duck any blame or responsibility in this, like so many so-called parents of today. Much more important to have my club time, than be responsible parents.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2010
6:38 am

sarah,

Wow, that is tough. I hope those siblings that abused you paid dearly for it. However, I am willing to guess that mom, didn’t take any responsibility, and she is the one that could have protected you, in addition to teaching the bro’s some decency. She failed you.

sarah

September 22nd, 2010
6:50 am

Thanks Shaggy, It only got worse going through life with low self esteem. I’ve been through all the counselling but I can’t relate tolerate other people for long. I am, however, a fantastic mother to my son who is doing a phd in maths.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2010
7:17 am

sarah,

Good for you and your son. The perpetuation of behaviors across generations does not have to happen. It takes courage to end it, and you obviously have that one down.
Keep feeling good about yourself.

TechMom

September 22nd, 2010
8:49 am

My husband and I had this conversation last night after seeing the story on the news.

I too began babysitting when I was very young. I grew up military and military people use babysitters because Grandma doesn’t usually live around the corner. I took the Red Cross course when I was 11 but already had experience watching the two kids across the street from us when their mom had a doctor appointment or wanted to go grocery shopping without two kids in tow. My mom was across the street and it was usually limited to just a couple of hours. By the time I was 12 I was babysitting infants & toddlers. Again, it was always in base housing with lots of people nearby including my mom. If the parents were going to be out late and it was a toddler or younger, my mom would usually insist on me babysitting at our house. When I was 13, I had a full-time summer job babysitting.

But this girl was obviously not ready to babysit at 11 and as much as I do think that there are times when teenagers commit vicious crimes and should be punished as adults, I just do not think that an 11-year old has the mental capacity to understand what the effects of her actions were going to be. I’m sure she was upset and decided to throw a fit (much like the 2-year old probably was) because she wasn’t capable of handling the situation appropriately but it seems so sad to me that this is going to ruin her life. I am not saying what she did was right by any means but I simply don’t think all 11 year olds are capable of understanding true cause and effect and I highly doubt she intended to kill the girl but by trying her as an adult, all that will result is that she will become a criminal for life and will have no attempt at a 2nd chance.

Kathryn

September 22nd, 2010
9:01 am

Putting it into perpective , the reason you have a babysitter is to watch over your child/ren in case of different worst case scenerios , fever , choking ,fire to name a few . So the question is , was too much responsibilty for an 11 year old if so , both sets of parents should be held to account and not the child . This would be barbaric to incarcerate this child of only 11 years of experience on earth …..
From Australia …..

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
9:02 am

@shaggy..What a nice way of putting this into perspective..I do not feel that they babysitter should be the one convicted, it should be both of the “mothers”..If that’s what you can actually call them..I have a couple of other names that I could use..

As for this maybe being my son, not gonna happen..I just think that kids and the enviroment (sp) are so different now then when I was younger and I would never leave an 11 year old home alone with a younger child..And if I did leave one at home, it sure as heck would not be at night, so that I could go out..Do people not think anymore?? OK, I know the answer to that already..

JATL

September 22nd, 2010
9:12 am

One thing everyone should know -and maybe this will bring it to light so we can get some laws about it in this state -DFACS/Social Services has RECOMMENDATIONS for how young a kid should be if being left alone or babysitting, but the state of GA has NO laws regarding it! Some states do, but many do not. EVERY state should have age limits on when it’s okay to leave kids home alone, age limits on babysitting and when it’s okay to leave minors overnight (another BIG issue). I have been doing extensive research on this topic for a work project, and there is one report from 2008 saying GA does have a law regarding minors home alone, but it doesn’t.

http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm

JATL

September 22nd, 2010
9:20 am

I completely agree with the adults in the case being held responsible. The thought of trying an 11 year old as an adult for this is incomprehensible to me! IF the 11 year old did it (and not the 11 year old’s parent or older sibling who is blaming it on her), then obviously there are deep emotional and psychological problems there, and the child needs to be evaluated and treated -even if that means being institutionalized for awhile. She is either the product of abuse herself or has some type of psychotic or sociopathic disorder. The “parents” of the 2 year old disturbed me when I saw them interviewed on the news. I get the feeling that little if any due diligence on their part has ever been done regarding a caretaker.

TechMom

September 22nd, 2010
9:24 am

We wouldn’t have the need for a law about what age children can stay home alone or babysit if people simply use common sense.

jake's mom

September 22nd, 2010
9:28 am

I too question the parent’s judgement. I can’t think of any 11 year old I’m leave my children with. And it’ll be interesting to see what the reports show, and if there was any sign of abuse before this incident. I’m very suspicious

tracey

September 22nd, 2010
9:31 am

i baby sat at 11 or so. as some people of posted, it all depends on the maturity of the child. i started staying home by myself(well with my brother, who is 18 months younger) when i was 9 or so. i didn’t leave my kids alone, until my oldest was 13, an even then just for an hour or two (long enough to go to the grocery store). i guess times have changed.

Nina

September 22nd, 2010
9:35 am

I don’t know that a law would matter. Just like choosing daycare, choosing a babysitter is a judgement to be made after looking at all the variables, including the baby’s age, the sitter’s age, maturity and responsibility. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. I too began baby sitting at a young age. But as another person wrote, I also had daily chores at home, went to the store for my Mama, did laundry, etc. and still had to do homework! I have grandchildren now and two are toddlers. I would not leave them with most 11 year olds I know. They are a handful and try the patience of a loving 52 year old Grandma. I don’t think another “child” would have the patience to not get angry with them.

JATL

September 22nd, 2010
10:07 am

@Techmom -the reason we have most laws that we do is because a great deal of the population either has no common sense or rarely uses it.

@Nina -Of course you will always have morons who don’t follow laws, but the importance of a law here would be the ability to prosecute the ADULTS for allowing an 11 year old to babysit or leaving an 11 year old alone with a 2 year old. It’s amazing how many adults will actually start behaving as adults when they know they can go to prison or be heavily fined if they don’t. To pull from another topic today -why do you think a good 50% of kids you see are in car seats? It’s not because their parents are oh-so-concerned with their safety. Most of us were never in car seats, but because there are now laws and you get heavy fines for NOT having your kids in car seats -parents actually do it.

Warrior Woman

September 22nd, 2010
10:23 am

I babysat my neighbors children and my younger sister regularly when I was 11. I don’t have a problem with short babysitting periods for an 11- or 12- year old if they are mature enough. I began by watching the kids while the parents were at home, but needed to work without interruption, then progressed to keeping them alone.

dette

September 22nd, 2010
10:50 am

the little girls just a baby herself, look how the the mother of the two year old and the mother of the 11 year old was acting. i think they should be charge if the truth be told i think they is taking up for each other because when truth comes out they might left that child with that baby all night and she did not know what to do because the mother claim she left the child with the co-worker lord please let the truth come out.

alawyer

September 22nd, 2010
10:53 am

If you babysat in the 5th grade then you were 10 or 11. I never babysat at that age – where I grew up, 7th grade, which was the first year of junior high, was the hard and fast line for babysitting. At that age (12), I taught swimming at the YMCA under the guidance of experienced teachers.

The police always exagerate the amount of time this sort of thing takes to happen – my brother was jumped on a street and in less than 2 minutes they injured him enough for intensive care and facial reconstruction. And those were adults – my guess is this kid probably smacked the smaller child for no more than a couple of minutes – that’s her attention span after all, but didn’t realize that she could seriously harm the child – 11 year olds who have been “paddled” or routinely beaten by parents (spanking is such a fake word) – are very likely to try and “spank” a toddler when the youngster gets out of hand – this sort of thing is learned behavior. The problem is that the 11 year old doesn’t know his or her own strength and doesn’t know quite where to end the beating so as not to cause permanent harm. Georgia doesn’t allow ADULT prosecution for under 13s but they have no problem sending them to youth prisons – whether the child had the mental capacity to commit the crime or not. There’s also going to be some sexism here – when 11 year old boys do this sort of thing, the court sees them as too immature to have been used as babysitters, but not so with girls and they are punished much harsher for lacking maternal skills deemed normal by judges.

alawyer

September 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

BTW Shaggy – you’re wrong on the law here – the 11 year old is not subject to “blended jurisdiction” in the state of Georgia. She will, however, have a juvenile felony conviction for murder that will dog her for life and prevent her from leading a normal existence – there will be no federal jobs for her, or scholarships, no military service and no opportunity to enter the job force. Despite what some people think about juvenile records, they only disappear if they are expunged – a costly process – and not for every crime. She won’t have the benefit of a capacity defense and she won’t have the right to a trial by jury, but she will face imprisonment up to age 21 in a truly nasty place. She is destroyed – just as much as the child she killed – assuming she did the killing. Keep in mind that adults often use kids in these cases to take the blame – they figure the juvenile laws are less – one of these adults might be responsible and they might have talked the child into shouldering the blame. That’s why police need to be very careful in these cases. My guess is that there was a snap judgment here that probably will obscure the real facts of the case. There have been a lot of kids who make false confessions to protect family members.

21FPT

September 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

At the end of the day as a parent in my opinion the answer is NO. Just not a 2yr old. That’s a lot to put on an 11 year kid to do the logistics for caring for a toddler, hoping nothing happens so dangerously and having to get a 2yr old to obey an 11yr old at that. I hope both families can come away from this with a lessons for the better. Just too sad for both families and their kids

JATL

September 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

@alawyer -I agree. I have a feeling one of the adults did this to the kid and have from the beginning. Foisting the blame on a juvenile happens far more than we know!

shaggy

September 22nd, 2010
11:39 am

@alawyer,

Thanks for the correction on state law. Yes, the child’s life will still be destroyed.

Wow, I had not considered that the adult might actually be the perpertrator, but in my opinion the adult is still responsible anyway. I am tired of adults putting their liesure pursuits and partying above parenting their children. They brought the child into the world. If they can’t handle the responsibility, decide early on, and give it to adoption.

alawyer

September 22nd, 2010
11:46 am

Yes JATL – there is something known as “false confession syndrome,” which routinely involves very young kids. Sometimes a false confession happens because the child is convinced by authorities to tell a story in order to go home – the infamous Michael Crow case is the best example. There are some cases, though, like the one involving a then-13 year old boy in Mississippi, where the child is convinced by an older relative to take the fall. Often the kid has no idea that they will spend years in prison – most people believe the urban myths that kids always get off with a slap on the wrist. We may never really know how many of these cases are out there because the police get caught up in the hype of the moment – Google and you will see that cases of adults killing children are a dime a dozen (sadly) but cases where kids kill kids get a disproportionate amount of publicity. Having the “youngest killer ever” gets prosecutors headlines that they might not otherwise have been able to score. And overcharging kids to up the ante on crime statistics is common in America – so you can see from this case that has been done already – they are hanging the murder complaint on an underlying felony of child abuse for a felony murder – or strict liability conviction. At worst, a case of an 11 year old beating up on a younger kid should be manslaughter – if indeed she did do it – she likely had no intent to permanently harm the child and it probably came in the heat of the moment if it happened at all.

The reality is that most murders are not solved – so when someone confesses it ends a big problem for the cops. Also, they take what someone says out of context for prosecution purposes. We probably will never truly know what happened in this case. The police should have held off filing charges until they did a full-scale investigation – for instance, has the dead child been injured before, does either Mom have a record or a history of complaints, was the 11 year old known for bullying behavior or violence in school, what does the medical examiner have to say about the type of injuries and can they be verified by an outside source, etc…

A thorough investigation can stop a false confession dead in its tracks – but a rush for judgment can cause a miscarriage of justice – especially where young children are the alleged perpetrators.

Janet W

September 22nd, 2010
11:49 am

Who in there right mind would like an 11 year old child in charge of there 2 yr old infant? The parent should be charged with neglect!

TechMom

September 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/11-year-old-babysitter-617778.html
So now there is an update in the article that the child cannot be charged with felony murder:

“The serious question is whether or not the state can go ahead with an adult charge,” Carlson said. “We’re going to have to let the courts decide that one because criminal responsibility is limited to those older than 12 years old.

“The traditional understanding in the courts is you have to be over 12 years old, even by one day, to be charged with homicide,” Carlson said.

He wondered why authorities were “saying we can charge this kid as an adult?”

In 2006, the Georgia General Assembly passed Amy’s Law, which lengthened the time a juvenile could be confined for a crime that would be a felony if committed by anyone 13 years or older. When Amy was killed, the maximum time was two years, and now it is five years or until the 21st birthday.

So this girl, if found guilty will face a max of 5 years. Unfortunately I still think there will be undo damage to her mental state in those 5 years such that she will never be able to fully recover and be an normal, contributing member of society. Maybe miracles happen in Juvenile Detention and she’ll turn out fine but I certainly doubt it.

SummerG

September 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

Well put JATL in regards to your response I think at one time it was probably fine and there are probably 11 and 12 year olds now who are mature enough to babysit. However, we have coddled our kids and babied them to the point that most 11 year olds now do NOT have the maturity to babysit. I cannot imagine leaving my kids with an 11 or 12 year old. I did babysit at 12 -I remember that clearly -but it was a different time. Kids today don’t have the level of responsibility they used to -riding bikes all over town, walking to and from school, running errands for mom and dad -elementary aged kids used to do that stuff! This is such a heartbreaking situation for everyone involved.

alawyer

September 22nd, 2010
12:38 pm

Well – I was following a case in Macon last week related to four nine year olds who ganged up on another kid while the teacher stepped out of the classroom, and the prosecutor was able to get away with a felony assault based on a “gang enhancement” charge. Keep in mind the minor skirmish didn’t result in so much as a bloody nose. I don’t think there’s a problem charging kids with murder in your jurisdiction – they just have to be adjudicated “delinquent.” Calling something juvenile delinquency is how courts get out from under the need to have a jury trial for someone, and it also negates the incapacity defense, which is what the professor was discussing. The age of criminal responsibility has little to do with the age of adult imprisonment – juvenile statutes undermine this concept and trample basic concepts of legal fairness. That’s why it’s so easy to get a conviction in juvenile court – the deck is stacked. The mens rea of the defendant doesn’t matter – it’s as though there is strict liability for every offense and the mindset of the child doesn’t matter – all that matters purportedly is “helping” the child (and “helping” children is often defined as finding them guilty so that they can get services, even if the evidence is scant.) 13 is merely your deadly sins age – it’s why you have so many African American children in your adult prison system – many 14 and 15 year olds were sent up as adults for something that would bring a juvenile sentence in most jurisdictions. And these sentences can stretch to faux life – 20, 30 or 40 years. This 11 year old is lucky because if she were 2 years older, instead of the potential 10 yr sentence (5 yrs initially with potential extensions up to age 21) that she faces, she would face a natural life sentence.

mom2alex&max

September 22nd, 2010
12:47 pm

Is 11 too young to babysit? HELL YES!!!

I would have never left an infant with anyone younger than 16 and she’d have to have her own transportation. In case of an emergency, she’d need to be able to drive.

Only way I ever let anyone younger than that babysit was when my kids were a little older than infants (about 3), we knew the girl, and her mother was only 5 mins away if something went wrong.

i know a lot of us babysat when we were that age, but there were different times. No way I’d allow it now.

mom2alex&max

September 22nd, 2010
12:51 pm

Does someone know off hand if this is even legal??? My 10 year old has been bugging me about being allowed to be left alone for short periods of time. I haven’t really agreed to this yet because i was under the impression that they had to 12 before they could be left alone? And I think even older before they can be left alone with a younger child?

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.