Mom arrested for leaving 13-year-old in charge of sibs after one got away

A mom in New Canaan, Conn., was arrested for leaving her 13-year-old daughter in charge of her siblings after one of the children wandered across the street alone.

From the New Canaan Patch:

“According to published reports, police say this mother left her four children—ranging in age from 13 years to 8 months—alone at home to go to church. Police were called to the home by a neighbor who said the woman’s 4-year-old had wandered into the yard across the street alone. Police arrested the mother and charged her with risk of injury to a minor.”

“When Patch published the police blotter arrest report, comments flew fast and furious—170 at last count in the days that followed since the arrest. Here’s the understatement of the year:  people have some pretty strong feelings about whether the mother was right to leave her eldest child to watch over the younger three children, and whether she as the parent should be held accountable when the 4-year-old wandered off.”

“But just as there are critics of the mom, Patch readers had some forceful opinions about the neighbor who summoned police, with some accusing her of acting in anything but a neighborly way. Instead of calling police, many said, she should have simply walked the child back across the street and offered a sympathetic hand to a fellow resident.”

So what is the legal age to leave a teenager in charge on Connecticut?

From the Patch article:

“Speaking of which, what does the law say about this case? Not a whole lot. There are guidelines provided by CT’s Department of Children and Family that say it’s up to each parent, depending on their child’s readiness, but that “Experts believe a child should be at least 12 before he is left alone, and at least 15 before he can care for a younger brother or sister. These are the minimum ages. Not every child is ready then.”

“(It’s important to note that, according to safekids.org, “even if a state does not have a specific law prohibiting adults from leaving children unattended, state and local prosecutors have the discretion to criminally charge adults under existing child endangerment laws.”)”

So the incident has sparked much debate in Connecticut as I am sure it will here.

Was the mom wrong to leave her 13-year-old in charge babysitting?

Was it too many kids for her to be in charge of?

Were they too young?

Should the neighbor just walked the child back across the street and hung out if she could to make sure everything was OK?

Was the neighbor being mean calling the cops or did she prevent a later calamity?

51 comments Add your comment

justmy2cents

June 5th, 2012
2:58 am

4 kids is A LOT for 1 13-year old to handle! I feel bad leaving my 9 year old in my 13 year old’s hands all summer long (3 days a week). Mommy needs to invest in daycare for the youngest, but the neighbor could have handled it better. Very petty….

Jennifer

June 5th, 2012
7:15 am

It was 3 kids. 4 includes the 13 year old. I don’t know if there’s more to this story, some history we don’t know about. If this happens a lot and maybe the 13 year old is irresponsible then maybe the neighbor did the right thing. If not, what a horrible decision. I was PAID to babysit at 12. I was a latchkey kid who spent the first hour home alone after school everyday until my older brother got home from about 7or 8 years old on. And if I forgot my key I’d just sit on the step in carport and wait. Problem is we don’t teach our kids enough about responsibility or give them any!

Joan Buchanan

June 5th, 2012
7:44 am

Before long the Dept. of Children Services will be raising our kids. I babysat my siblings every summer so my mom could go to work. I new how to dial 911, to keep an eye on them, and occasionally one would get away. This is life. Every year stories of DCS intervening when its not necessary are multiplying and not intervening when they should. Parents today are way too easy on their kids and expect everyone to put up with their spoiled child. Most of the parents that have comeout against this mother, I would gaurentee are stay-at-home moms or moms that leave their kids in daycare 40 hours a week, wanna bet on that one.

Opalescence

June 5th, 2012
7:46 am

What was the mother’s reason for not taking her children to church? Perhaps the eldest child showed herself to be responsible enough in the past to watch the kids for a couple of hours. Or not. I’m not on the mother’s or the neighbor’s side; my concern is for the children. That is a lot of responsibility for an adolescent but it could be that it doesn’t happen often. Perhaps the neighbor should not have been so quick to call the police, particularly since the child was not hurt. Maybe have a conversation with the mother upon her return. It’s hard to sit back and make a judgment call if you’re not right there in the situation. There’s a lot about this that we don’t know.

Augusta

June 5th, 2012
7:56 am

Once DFACS gets involved, it’s VERY difficult to get them out of your home and your life. They constantly follow you.

I would have done the neighborly thing. I would have walked that child back home, and found out what was going on, and offer my help. That’s just the way I am.

However, this woman wasn’t going to work and leaving her kids. She went to CHURCH. So she didn’t leave them for very long, what maybe 1.5 hours? How far was the church from the home? Again, we don’t know ALL the details.

But in my world, I would have offered to help, and THE VERY LAST THING I WOULD DO is call DFACS. I don’t want them anywhere near me or my family!

homeschooler

June 5th, 2012
8:08 am

@ Joan.. DFCS did not arrest this mother, the police did. In GA the guideline is that 13 yr olds can babysit younger siblings and that children can be alone for short periods at age 9. Like Conn. this is merely a guideline. As a DFCS worker, I have assessed 12 yr olds who were more than capable of caring for younger siblings and 16 yr olds who should never be left in charge. At any time if something occurs, such as a child being placed in harms way, it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent.

Having said that, with the information given (which is not much) I don’t think this this case warranted an arrest. It’s not like a 1yr old got out of the house. In many communities 4 yr olds will walk next door to a neighbor to ask to play etc.. I don’t consider a 4 yr old leaving the house as “wandering”. 2 yr olds “wander” 4 yr olds can easily get out of a locked door and it is not reasonable to think that the 13 yr old should have her eyes on a 4 yr old 24/7. I think we need to ask to what level was this child “at risk”. Now if the child was in the road or at the neighbor’s house for an hour and nobody noticed, well, that is cause for concern.
There are so many factors in situations like this. No way to tell what the police were thinking and why they made the arrest.
One more thing. I have worked with police officers for almost 20 yrs and I love them, really I do, but they are not always the most objective about things. One 30 yr old cop who is a very conscientious parent himself could have just freaked out about this and arrested the mother since the law is so subjective. If that is the case and there is not further evidence to suggest neglect, the charges will probably be thrown out.
Even if the 13 yr old was being neglectful, I can’t see the mother being charged unless she had some prior knowledge that she should not trust her teen. I have seen parents arrested for leaving a teen in charge who had prior police or court involvement, extreme behavior problems etc..
I suspect there is either more to this case or there is nothing to it and it is an isolated incident. I can assure you all that this kind of event happens almost daily in Cobb County (and a lot worse than this) and no one is arrested and kids are not removed.

Orlando

June 5th, 2012
8:15 am

Great post Augusta and homeschooler

motherjanegoose

June 5th, 2012
8:21 am

Where is homeschooler…she should know more about this…I am serious.

I do not think it is a crime to leave a 13 year old home for a few hours with the siblings but not all 13 year olds are mature enough and there could be more to the story. I would not have called DFACS unless this situation presented itself repeatedly and I felt there was trouble or the 13 year old was not responsible. I have never called DFACS and have seen some situations that made me nervous.

I was at school a few weeks ago and a Kinder had a rash all over her face and up and down her arms. She was scratching it intermittently. It looked like poison ivy or poison oak. We have had both here and they looked the same. At that stage, you typically need an injection. I spoke to the teacher, who agreed, but said the parent said it was just allergies. Those things worry me because I feel sorry for the child if the parents do not take the necessary steps. I have never seen allergies look like that but I am not a Doctor.

I babysat a family with 4 kids and one included a baby, when I was 13, I remember this because I am 13 years older than my sister and the Mom told my Mom , “Your daughter has experience with babies.” Remember, there were NO cell phones back then. They lived about 5 miles from us. Another time, we were camping with a family my parents knew., There were 3 children and I had a younger sister. This was before my youngest sister was born, so I was younger than 13. The parents went out to dinner and I was at the campground with all the children…I remember being very scared. There was no way to contact any parents ( again no cell phones….40 years ago) and we did not know anyone in the campground. I would never put my daughter in that situation.

Ally

June 5th, 2012
8:22 am

The only problem that I see is that it was too many for a 13 year old to handle, especially that there was a baby involved. If there is a baby involved, then there should only be one other child (if that) for the 13 year old to watch.

I was 13 years old when I was hired to babysit a preemie newborn. The only reason I was hired was because I was one of two 8th graders who passed their CPR exam on the first try (we took CPR in school). The scary part was that baby was on a monitor that went off if she stopped breathing. That was when I was supposed to give her CPR. I still can’t believe she trusted a 13 year old with her fragile preemie newborn!! Sometimes I also babysat their 2 year old as well. I remember the pressure I felt with that baby!! Too much to handle for a middle schooler! Now, if that baby had been a healthy older baby, it would have been fine with the two children, but I think three is too much if it includes a baby.

And I’ll add that that neighbor either had a problem with that family before and wanted to get them in trouble, or she was too scared to deal with it herself (a shame!). Either way, she never should have called DFACS or the police. She should have done the right thing and handled it.

Always Skeptical

June 5th, 2012
8:23 am

I agree Jenifer and Joan. I to was a PAID babysitter for up to 3 children at a time starting at the age of 12. I was a latchkey kid starting in the 4th grade for a couple of hours each afternoon ( with responsibility for a younger sibling) until my parent’s got home…and when they got home…our uniforms had better be off and hung up and our homework completed. My youngest sibling was watched by a lady on the street until I got older. Maybe times are a little different, but a 12 or 13 year old is certainly old enough to take are of a 4 year old sibling, likely not an 8 month old without supervision. Shame on the neighbor for calling the police instead of the neighbor first and simply lending a hand. We all wonder what we would have done to protect friends and neighbors during WW2 in Nazi Germany…It’s clear what side this neighbor would have fallen on.

motherjanegoose

June 5th, 2012
8:24 am

@homeschooler…you must have been posting when I just checked in and started my post. THIS is why I enjoy the blog. Each of us bring different things to the table and we can all learn things. Thanks for sharing!

DB

June 5th, 2012
8:35 am

Called the POLICE? Well, I used to live in New Canaan, and I can tell you, it’s not exactly a “neighborly” town — most people don’t know their neighbors well if at all. But in the Patch story, the neighbor called the police and told them that the 4 year old “from across the street’ was in her yard — so she KNEW who it was. It’s a nice town, near Stamford (they all sort of run together there, in Fairfield County, CT) and a bedroom community for NYC. West Country Club is an area of $2-5 million homes, with very large lot zoning, It’s not a question of just “running across the street” as we would think of it in Atlanta — if the 4 year old was in the neighbor’s yard across the street, they were well on their way to getting lost in the woods, or perhaps falling in the creek or one of the small lakes (or swimming pools – there’s a lot of those on that street, too). I guess the saving grace there was that they at least called the police.

Arresting the mom was pretty extreme. I think of all the kids my daughter babysat for when she was 13, and I don’t think anyone would have called the kids parents “irresponsible” or accused them of “endangering” their child for leaving them with her! Then again, it’s harder to babysit siblings than it is to babysit other people’s kids — siblings often don’t mind their older bro/sis like they should. Oddly, though, the mom said that she had left at 1:30 to go to church, and that a babysitter was supposed to come at 2, so in her head, she was only leaving the kids for a short period of time. The timing doesn’t really work out, though, because the 4 year old was found at 1:25, which means that mom had been gone longer than she claimed. The 13 year old was a boy, not a girl – funny how we all assumed it was a girl :-)

FCM

June 5th, 2012
8:37 am

In GA you can leave a child 9 – 11 for 4 hours….a child over that up to 8 and a 13 yo can watch a younger sibling. Assuming of course the parent deems them responsible.

Here’s the rub…Childcare facilities usually won’t take a child over 12. So if the parent has to work (like oh I don’t know a single mom) what do you do with the child(ren)? Most in my neighborhood leave them home….granted I spend several hundred a week to put mine to camps that allow older kids, not everyone can. I feel blessed too be able even though it really screws up my savings.

I do leave both of them home when I go to the store. Both are in the ages to be left alone for up to 4 hours, and I keep the trips to an hour or less…but it scares me. Mostly because if they do something stupid (and I know I did at that age…burnt tupperware creating plastic fumes all over the house once) even the folks on this blog will scream “bad parenting”.

You can really only do so much to protect a child.

ALL that said, 4 kids in those ages on 1 13 year old does seem to be a bit much. I would have to know more facts first to be certain.

FCM

June 5th, 2012
8:41 am

Hopefully, those I think would not scream “bad parenting” on this blog would know who they are.

mother of four

June 5th, 2012
8:48 am

I babysat at the age of thirteen without incident–sometimes as many as three kids. I was an oldest child and I think this had a lot to do with it. My husband was an oldest child as well and was often left at home with his younger siblings while his mother and father worked. We both understood that we were in charge and we (mostly) behaved as such.

When my oldest turned thirteen he kept his brothers for short periods on a regular basis (we homeschooled, but I also held down a part time job so my husband and I occasionally had to trade off responsibilities and work schedules sometimes overlapped). Nothing ever came up that my son couldn’t handle. I got called home once because my youngest (four years old) was sick and it was actually my decision–my son simply wanted to know if it was safe to give him Tylenol. A time or two something got broken (a pane of glass in my china cabinet thanks to an impromptu soccer game–you can bet that only happened once). More than once I was delayed in getting home from meetings and he started dinner without anyone telling him to. He will tell you that looking out for himself and his younger siblings aided him in learning how to think for himself and put his own needs aside.

I think it varies from kid to kid as to whether they’re mature enough to handle baby sitting, but an awful lot of the time kids respond to what’s expected of them. If we expect mature behavior and are shocked and disappointed when we don’t get it, they learn quickly to rise to those expectations.

Becky

June 5th, 2012
8:49 am

My oldest nephew was born in June after I turned six in Jan.I started babysitting him when I was seven and continued until he was about 6..When his baby brother came alone I kept him also..Yes, there was always an adult in the house with me, but I was the babysitter..Like MJG said, no cell phones then and we didn’t actually have a home phone until I was almost in high school..I would get paid on Fri. and I would walk them to the store (about 1 1/2miles) to spend most of my hard earned money on them..:)

So, I think that unless there are some major issues between these two families, I do not think that DFACS or the police should of been called…Will wait for the rest of the story to be told..

kimmer

June 5th, 2012
9:04 am

As someone else has mentioned its hard to make a definitive judgement not knowing all circumstances but on the surface this seems to be a significant overreaction by law enforcement.

My question is this. Would they have arrested the mom if she was at home when the 4 yr old went across the street? I say probably not. Things like this happen. The thing that should be first and foremost here is what it best for the kids and I submit that arresting their mother, hauling her off to jail and having to deal with all that goes with that is not best.

B

June 5th, 2012
9:05 am

Let me start by saying, I am a mother to 3 children. When my children where 2,7, and 9, I could and did leave them home alone once in a while. Not for long, maybe an hour tops. The neighbors knew when I left, and would keep an eye on the house, and watch the kids from their yard. In return, I would do the same. In a smaller community, this isn’t uncommon. But you cannot always have your eyes on a child. My two year old was a master escape artist. He would get mad if he couldn’t have a Popsicle, and wait until I was cooking, or doing the dishes, and escape the house to go to the neighbors to get one. The neighbor would then return the 2 year old, both eating a Popsicle, laughing and having a grand time. Kids will be kids, and you cannot watch them every second. I don’t care if you are 13, 33, 43, or whatever. You Cannot keep an eye on them all the time. What a horrid neighbor to call the police instead of stepping in to help. If it was the middle of the night, I could understand calling the police if the Mom was gone, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. This neighbor should be ashamed of themselves. Just my opinion.

midnight garden

June 5th, 2012
9:14 am

I think it really depends on that particular situation. Could be anything from it was a one time incident and the neighbor should have just led the child back or it could have been the last straw for the neighbor of seeing repeated worrying things going on and this was the straw that broke that camels back and they felt they needed to call the police.

Urinal Cake

June 5th, 2012
9:14 am

Maybe the mom had an older babysitter lined up, but that babysitter was a boy and we all know that boy babysitters are bad because they want to do naughty things with the girls so the mom canceled and let her daughter do the babysitting. Also, since she was at church she thought Jesus was looking out for her…..Guess he failed again…..

Evil Jesus

June 5th, 2012
9:18 am

Dont bad mouth Jesus.

@ B

Where were you going for an hour at a time? Score some meth? Crack? Smack? Weed? H? Ex?

homeschooler

June 5th, 2012
9:20 am

@ FCM, I’m not following under what circumstances you are suggesting would be a problem. If a child is under 12 and the parent works all day (I’m talking summertime) that child should really have someone looking out for him/her. 9 or 10 hours is a long time for even a 10 or 11 yr old to be responsible for him or herself. At 12 there is no DFCS worker or police officer who is going to have a problem with that child staying alone all day. At 13 a child can babysit younger sibs up to 12 hrs.

I hate, hate hate cases where we (DFCS) get involved and it is a borderline situation and we have to impose on parents to change a good thing just because of “liability”. I once met a woman who had to leave for work at 4am. Her kids were like 11 and 8. They would get themselves up for school. She had their clothes laid out and their breakfast fixed and they were very responsible. Responsible enough to be on the school bus every day with no help from Mom. Realistically they were only alone for 3.5 hrs but the 7 yr old was considered too young to be alone and the 11 yr old was considered too young to watch the sibling. That coupled with the fact the the situation was just so different, my supervisors wouldn’t let me let it go. (no one liked the idea of mom leaving in the middle of the night when the kids were asleep) Mom thought ( and i agreed) they were safer at that time of day then getting off the school bus alone. She was able to be home when they got off the bus and was a very, very good mom. Luckily the kids turned 9 and 12 shortly after that and as I remember she had a neighbor help out for a few months. Things like that will make you crazy but we really do try to use common sense when we can.

When I was a kid the age we could be on the babysitting list in my neighborhood was 12. I really think most 12 yr olds are capable of babysitting responsibly.

Me

June 5th, 2012
9:40 am

Personally, I would not have involved the police “unless” I, as a neighbor, already had first-hand background information, i.e. incidents of this type happened all the time; the kid(s) had been returned many times previously; the mother had been warned that “one more time’, etc. Then, I suppose there would be little choice. I do agree that “age” matters very little, if any, when compared with maturity.

See

June 5th, 2012
9:49 am

My 13 year old son looks after his brothers, ages 5, 9, and 10. Why is that a problem? The schools obviously think kids his age are mature enough to pose a hypothesis, carry out an experiment to test the hypothesis, and then write a detailed, scientific report on their findings. Yet they are not capable of looking after siblings in their own home? If they are expected to do the former, then certainly they must be deemed capable of doing the latter. Society can’t have it both ways…having high expectations of maturity and responsibility in middle school children when it comes to academics, yet coddling them when it comes to taking on responsibilities at home.

rh

June 5th, 2012
9:50 am

This is the first time I heard there was an 8-month old being watched. My 15 year old can watch his 8- and 12-year old siblings, but I spend a lot of time talking about what to do in an emergency, how to act (all of them really), and how it is not a fun time but serious when an adult is not present.

One 13-year old in charge of three younger children including a baby is not right. Twelve-year olds can be left alone, but being in charge of children is different.

Needless to say, a babysitter of ANY age should have a backup available to call in case of emergency. A child babysitter should certainly have a trusted adult’s phone number available at all times at least.

I do think the mom should have been arrested, but think the punishment should be classes for both her and her 13 year old on taking care of children properly.

rh

June 5th, 2012
9:52 am

(Not to complicate matters, but what DO you do if children under 5 wander the streets and yards? There is a couple with four kids across the street, and not only does their dog get out regularly and they refuse to get it back “she’ll come back soon”, but their TWO year old walks down yards and in the street. Should I call the police about it? I am very tempted because I do fear for this poor two year old.)

Lucy

June 5th, 2012
10:01 am

Wow…I was paid to baby-sit other people’s children starting when I was 12 (this was around 1995, so not all that long ago, and in a populated suburban area). Not to mention I also watched my own two brothers every day after school, though they were only 2 years younger than I. But neighbors would pay me to watch as many as 3 kids at a time, as young as 1 year old, starting when I was 12…in fact the baby-sitting course I took at the local hospital was full of 11 to 13 year-olds expecting to get baby-sitting jobs upon earning their certification. This seems CRAZY to me to arrest the mom for leaving her teenager in charge of younger siblings for a few hours while she went to church!

homeschooler

June 5th, 2012
10:04 am

@ rh…yes, definitely call the police when you see the child outside. No two yr old should ever be unattended. You could call DFCS but if it’s not “in the moment” the call won’t be taken very seriously. Not much DFCS can do if they get out there and the parent says “no,that never happened”. The police can respond immediately and then will call dfcs if needed.

jake

June 5th, 2012
10:09 am

First of all it was three kids she was caring for, not 4. I was watching my little brother at 11 years old. At 13 the kid is old enough (maybe not ready, up to the parent) to watch the kids.

non committal mind reader

June 5th, 2012
10:24 am

I was a 13 year old sitter of young children, and I have used a 13 year old neighborhood girl to sit with our young children. There was a time (a hundred+ years ago) where 13 year olds would be married having children of their own, or taking care of other children in the house while parents worked. Leaving children with a 13 year old is not a problem. Leaving these children with THIS 13 year old (main story) might be a problem.

Step Dad

June 5th, 2012
10:31 am

I answer Yes to questions 1-5 at end of article. Having said that, a 4 year old can wander off when being watched by 3 adults. Unless this had happened before and the neighbor warned the mother that next time it happens the police will be called, this looks like a huge over-reaction on the neighbors part. Guess they will not be getting Christmas cards this year.

motherjanegoose

June 5th, 2012
10:33 am

@rh…wow…I just remembered when I called the police.

Early in our marriage, we lived in the first house, at the entrance of Navy base housing. The houses had big picture windows. I must have been 24 or 25 and we did not have kids yet. I was teaching kindergarten. A little girl ( maybe 3 or 4) walked past my house in her underpants and a shirt. She had on shoes. I walked out and looked around. No adults. The street outside base housing was a four lane street with lots of cars. She was headed that way. I called out to her and took her hand, then asked her where she lived. I proceeded in that direction and then saw a student I knew. I asked her if she knew the little girl. She replied, “Yes, she lives…” and pointed in that direction. I walked to the house and knocked on the door, which was wide open. No one answered. I walked inside and no one answered my call ( I can remember the house as I type…weird!) I walked over to the neighbors, with the girl. They acknowledged that she was home alone often and took her in. Apparently the mom just left the child home, more than once, and no one wanted to say anything about it. I called the base police and met them at my house. I had the address of the little girl. One officer went directly to the house. I was asked a lot of questions and to fill out a report. It was kind of scary, as the Dad was a lot higher rank than my husband. I called my husband at work to tell him what was going on, before I signed the paperwork. The police agreed that there was a problem but I was really nervous. We never saw the child wandering again and my husband had no repercussions. I forgot all about that story until just now.

You never know what might happen to a child, if you do not get involved and try to help. Each situation is different!

Techmom

June 5th, 2012
10:56 am

I started babysitting at 10 (kids across the street for limited time with my mom across the street) and had a full-time summer job babysitting at 12. I babysat multiple kids, babies, etc and never had an issue. I took the Red Cross Babysitting course at 12 which means to me, you are allowed to babysit at age 12. That being said, some kids are capable of babysitting at that age and some aren’t.

I totally agree with the other posters that there isn’t enough info here to really make a judgement call here but I do think calling the police was over reactive UNLESS this was a recurring issue.

FCM

June 5th, 2012
10:57 am

@ homeschooler, my understanding is that if my children accidentally set fire to the house because they were microwaving popcorn (we actually did have a fire like that but I was home at the time and it never got out of hand)…..But anyway, it is my understanding that I can be charged with endangering my children. Nevermind that they are not allowed to cook when I am not home. Nevermind that microwave popcorn should not catch fire if in for 3 min or less (the above caught almost immediately and we still have no idea why)…..the end result is that I was not diligent in keeping my children safe.

Is that not the case?

Not willing to share....read you will see why

June 5th, 2012
11:07 am

Oh I was babysitting at 12. At first it was with an adult (sometimes the kids own parent) in the house. I got paid, but they were there to teach me the ropes of watching kids.

I just really feel that people are quick to call Police, DFACS, or whomever and not use common sense any more.

My child and another got into it one day…he hit her and she bit him. The father of the other child came over and said that in the past it would have been let them work it out. Not long ago it would have been he and I talking about the solution. However he just wanted to warn me he had gotten the school authorities involved they were going to claim it was at the bus (several neighbors told me it was actually in my yard)…and oh yeah neither I nor the other child’s parents were home. I will not tell you my child was at no fault…both children were very much a party to the issue that got to this point. Had anyone told me earlier about the issue I would certainly have known to step in.

Fred ™

June 5th, 2012
11:14 am

My daughter, now 10, wants to be left at home when I zip out to Kroger’s and such. I feel a bit uncomfortable but I think I’ll feel uncomfortable when she’s 30 lol. As to this story? On the surface it seems like a crappy neighbor and no big deal. If there was more to it, then maybe not. One would think however that if there were much more to the story it would have been reported.

Denise

June 5th, 2012
11:17 am

My little sister (BBBS) stays by herself when her mother is at work on the weekends. I told her mother I was uncomfortable dropping her off when she was not home so I keep her until her mom is home from work. The mother keeps saying that the child (10) is mature enough to stay home by herself. I guess I’m thinking back to when I was younger but there was no way in heaven I was ready to be by myself all day long at 9 or 10. She plays all day in the apartment complex with her friends. Her mom says that her neighbors keep an eye on her daughter when she is gone. That may be true. But when it’s up to ME, I don’t let it happen. I wonder sometimes if I’m being judgmental because I don’t think I would handle it that way if I was a parent but then again I hope I am not a single parent working 2 jobs to take care of my child. I know I can only do what I can do.

And yes, I was babysitting and staying home with my brother at 12 but I was paranoid back then too (smile) so I wasn’t worried about anything happening on my watch. I kept both eyes on them at all times. LOL

PB

June 5th, 2012
11:18 am

Why didn’t mom take the kids to church with her? At least the 4-year old and the 8-month old. What if the child was hit by a car crossing the road? I think the neighbor did the right thing in calling the police. I have a 13-year old who is very responsible but I don’t think those ages are appropriate for that age to babysitter. That’s hard for some adults. In this case it looks like the13-year old might be the more responsible person. If my 4-year old was wandering across the street I would want someone to call the police too. Something could have been wrong. Don’t blame the neighbor, the blame is on mom.

Father Benchmark

June 5th, 2012
11:38 am

I tell you why the mother did not take the children to church. She did not want them molested. That’s what happens in catholic churches.

Good Lord People

June 5th, 2012
12:17 pm

We have become a nanny state that arrests people for the STUPIDEST things. The police should have let the mother off with a warning… and in fact, they should have never been called. This is pathetic.

jarvis

June 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

I let my five-year-old play in the front yard with my 8-year-old while I’m in the house checking on them every 15 minutes or so. I

f he crosses the street into my neighbors yard, my neighbor might call me but would most-likely just remind him that he isn’t supposed to be going in the street. I feel certain she wouldn’t call the police.

HB

June 5th, 2012
12:26 pm

It’s not clear to me how long the child was outside alone or if it had happened before. If this is the only time the 4yo has wandered off, I think that’s something that could happen even with a responsible adult in the house and may not have anything to do with the sitter’s age. By age 4, children are usually allowed to be in rooms alone within earshot of Mom or Dad. I could see a parent taking care of an 8mo in another room while the 4yo was playing or watching a cartoon not realizing the child had quietly slipped out of the house. After it happened once, though, they should know to toddler-proof doors (and maybe put a chimes on them to go off when opened) and make sure to put their eyes on the child every 2 minutes. It’s a serious situation that parents and the brother should learn from, but not one that police need to be involved in!

Tom

June 5th, 2012
12:41 pm

Can a 13 y/o babysit? Sure. However, this 13 y/o was left with 3 children, one being 8 months old. That’s a lot to handle for a 13 y/o in my opinion.

Tom

June 5th, 2012
1:41 pm

Jailing a mother of 4 because she left her own 13 y/o with her other kids waiting for the babysitter? That police officer should be evaluated. If this country will no longer tolerate a 12, 13, or 14 year olds as babysitters, then it really is time to get out. What would have happened if the 4 y/o got out while the mother was there (which probably has happened) and the neighbor called the police. Do they arrest her anyway? I have news for anyone that will listen, bad things happen to good people. People get hit by cars, people get sick and people die regardless of intent; arresting someone for neglect or child endangerment will not help this. We live in a country where 1 out of 132 people is incarcerated, does this bother anyone else? Does she care that her kid was in the street? Does she bring her kids to the doctor when they are hurt or for shots? Does she abuse her kids? These are the questions for willful neglect charges.

Fact is that she left her own 13 y/o in charge of his/her siblings, she expected someone to arrive as a babysitter soon. Unless we are to eliminate the usage of teens to watch our kids, she did nothing wrong. The only reason to arrest someone for this is if they are continually neglectful and then family services should be brought in.

Techmom

June 5th, 2012
3:06 pm

I happened to be on the Red Cross website today and ran across the link for their babysitting course:
Babysitter’s Training
This course gives youth ages 11 to 15 years old the knowledge and confidence to care for infants and school-age children. Combining video, activities, hands-on skills training and discussion for a complete learning experience, Babysitter’s Training teaches youth how to:
Respond to emergencies and illnesses with first aid, rescue breathing and other appropriate care
Make decisions under pressure
Communicate with parents to learn household rules
Recognize safety and hygiene issues
Manage young children
Feed, diaper and care for infants
Start their babysitting business

motherjanegoose

June 5th, 2012
3:36 pm

@Techmom…my daughter took that class! She was cleaning out her room last week here, and found the paperwork. She decided she could pitch it now, since she is 20 and that was about 8 years ago. It helped her get babysitting jobs, as she had covered things that she should know!

homeschooler

June 6th, 2012
9:20 am

@FCM.. You have nothing to worry about if you have capable kids and stay within GA guidelines. If your house caught on fire and you had left your kids alone based on the guidelines and you had no reason to suspect they were not capable, I can’t imagine that you would be charged. If you left a 10 yr old at home that was on medication for ADHD and had a history of acting out and had been diagnosed as having poor impulse control they could probably make a case against you.
Similarly (but more frustrating) if you were just under the guidelines ie.. you left a 12 yr old who you thought was capable, babysitting younger kids and the house caught on fire, they could use the guidelines against you. (I’ve never seen this happen but don’t put anything past the cops and DFCS workers that have to follow policy to the letter). Most people don’t have anything to worry about because Georgias guidelines are reasonable. (I think).

I believe part of the problem with the Conn. situation is their policy in regards to kids watching younger kids is age 15! That’s crazy and that is up to the citizens of that state to change.

Colene

June 6th, 2012
11:25 am

I live in CT and also have 4 children. In the state of CT, the babysitting course is offered to 11 yr olds. When my oldest, now 15, was 12, I needed to go pick up her siblings at school, but her youngest sibling, who was not yet in school, was sleeping. I called our local police station to ask if it was ok. They directed me to a number which turned out to be DCF. The person I spoke to said it was absolutely ok. The law in CT does not state 15. In fact, it is called the “age of maturity” where it is at the parent or guardians discretion. This is not the first time a mother has been charged in CT and the fact the child wandered off could happen to adults as well as a babysitter.

Because there is not a specific age in CT, the police are at their discretion to decide the sitter was not actually mature enough. Because the younger sibling was able to walk away, they obviously decided she was not. That being said, I will state that when my children were very young (only had two at the time) my younger son walked down our driveway with a house full of adults. Someone left the baby gate open during my daughters birthday party. He walked down the stairs and right out the basement door.I happen to be standing by the window and saw him at the same time my neighbor came outside. It would have been very easy for this neighbor to bring the child back and find out the circumstances or even stay at the house until the mother arrived home.

Oddly enough, this story has not even made the news in CT. It was on the radio this morning but has yet to hit the tv media.

homeschooler

June 6th, 2012
11:47 am

@ Colene….sorry, I read the article yesterday and thought it said Conn. deemed 15 to be the minimum age a child should be left to care for siblings. I see now that it mentions that Conn. has no age but that “Experts” say this. I wonder who these experts are and what kind of helicopter parents they must be? :-). Most rational people agree that most 12 or 13 yr olds are capable of handling babysitting for short amounts of time.
Thanks for pointing that out.

Bookmom

June 6th, 2012
4:29 pm

@motherjanegoose I read your comment upthread about the child with the rash and thought I might give you some information. Poison ivy and poison oak cause contact dermatitis. This is an allergic reaction to the oils from these plants. Most people do experience this. There are other types of contact dermatitis. You can have it from latex, nickel, and lotions containing a product that you are allergic to. Some people get contact dermatitis from laundry detergents and soaps.

Finally, there is another form of dermatitis called eczema. This is very itchy. It is often misunderstood by the general public and can cause great embarrassment for the people who have it because of reactions they receive by people who see it. It usually has an allergic element. My sons suffer from this and it is worse for them during pollen season. It can also be associated with food allergies as well. My one son went to the dr multiple times before he finally sent him to a dermatologist who gave us the correct diagnosis and treatment. So not all eczema looks the same. I would suspect this girl has eczema and you have harshly judged her mother. I would guess she simply said allergies because many people don’t know what eczema is.

Please be compassionate. Eczema can be a difficult thing not only for the child, but also for the parent. People often criticize and think it is contagious or make harsh judgements. People stare. And due to medications used for it, it cannot be covered up. Please try to be a little more compassionate!!