Safe Babysitting

“Safe Babysitting,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 63–64

Safe Babysitting

“Baby-sitting? Yes, I think I know how to do it. The parents tell me what to do, and I just follow their instructions.” This statement may have been true in days past, but with the growing number of kidnappings, child molestations, and break-ins, most baby-sitters need to be better prepared. Teaching your children the following guidelines will help them be better prepared to baby-sit responsibly and safely.

Accepting a Baby-Sitting Job

1. Make sure both you and your parents know the people you are baby-sitting for. If you do not already know the family, find out who recommended you; then ask that person about the family. Do not baby-sit for strangers.

2. Before you leave, give your parents the family’s name, address, and telephone number.

3. If there is going to be someone over fourteen years old in the house while you are baby-sitting, discuss the situation with your parents before you accept the job.

Transportation

1. Do not walk or ride your bicycle to or from the job alone after dark.

2. Call your parents when you leave to come home so they will know when to expect you.

3. If the person you are baby-sitting for has been drinking or would have to leave the children alone to take you home, call your parents for a ride home.

4. Ask the person taking you home to wait until you are safely inside the house before he or she leaves.

5. Have your parents leave the porch light on for you.

Information You Will Need

1. Find out where the telephone is and get a list of necessary phone numbers—the place the parents can be reached, the family doctor, the nearest family relative, and neighbors who could help in an emergency.

2. Get any special instructions for the care of the children.

3. Know the location of switches and taps to turn off power, gas, and water in case of an emergency.

4. Know how to lock the doors, how to completely close the drapes, and how to turn on the lights at night.

5. Find out approximately when the parents will return.

While You Are Baby-Sitting

1. Keep the doors locked, and do not open the door to strangers.

2. Don’t allow anyone to come into the house unless arrangements have been made and explained to you by the parents before they left.

3. Answer the phone politely, and keep a written record of all calls. Never indicate that there is no adult home or that someone is out of town. If the caller asks for someone, say that the person cannot come to the phone just then, but you would be happy to take a message and have him or her return the call. Do not give your name, address, or the name, address, or phone number of the people you are baby-sitting for. Hang up immediately if the caller is annoying or obscene. Report such a call immediately to the police, your parents, or a neighbor.

4. Don’t invite your friends into the house.

5. Stay awake unless you have already made other arrangements with the parents.

Outside Activities

1. If you plan to take the children outside or on an excursion, make sure you get the parents’ permission before they leave.

2. Keep me front door locked while you and the children are playing in the backyard.

3. If you take the children for a walk or other excursion, lock the house and take the key with you.

4. Have the children go to the bathroom before you leave so they won’t have to use public rest rooms.

5. Stay away from lonely, deserted streets, empty buildings, and other dangerous areas.

6. Keep the children with you at all times.

7. Never accept a ride with a stranger—no matter what the circumstances.

8. In an emergency, have someone call your family, the police, or an adult you can trust and who can come to your aid.

9. If you think you are being followed by a stranger, go to a nearby home, store, or gas station. Call the police.

10. If something seems different around the house or if a strange car or truck is parked at the house when you return, do not go in. Call the police from a neighbor’s home.

Helping your children learn these basic concepts will help them become better and safer baby-sitters.

(Information for this article was taken from Self-Protection for Baby-sitters, PXRRS0293, a pamphlet prepared by the Relief Society. It can be ordered from Church distribution centers for 10¢.)