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Protecting our kids: Choosing the right caregiver

Parents have a lot to juggle, including work, making meals, getting the kids to school and making ends meet. Parents are often grateful when a nanny, friend or family member extends a helping hand. Although life can be hectic, parents should ensure they choose a safe babysitter or nanny for their kids.

It is important to evaluate caregivers carefully because child sexual abuse is not uncommon. In fact, 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser. People who molest children may sound like monsters, but they look just like anyone else. Consider these tips for keeping your children safe.

Steps for evaluating caregivers

Individual caregivers, including friends or professionals, should be chosen carefully. Even if you have complete trust in your caregiver, following through with these steps will provide an extra layer of protection for your children.

  1. Ask if they are willing to submit to a background check. Background checks can help you screen caregivers, showing any past history of violence, negligence or abuse. However, these tools are not completely effective. Sexual abuse is often not reported or prosecuted.
  2. Request a list of references. Do not just call the first person on the list. Contact multiple references and ask questions regarding their character, behavior and performance.
  3. “Google” their name. Take a quick look at their online history and social media activity. Most employers perform online research to get a better idea of their candidates’ behavior; why shouldn’t you do the same?
  4. Search for their name on the National Sex Offender Public Website. The national sex offender registry allows you to search by name and region, giving you a free means of checking a caregiver’s history.
  5. Make unexpected visits. Check in on your caregiver unannounced. This will provide an honest look into their performance.

Choosing a daycare center

Instead, you may choose to bring your child to a daycare. When deciding on a daycare center, make sure to check the following items to ensure your child’s safety:

  • The service provider’s license
  • Training for the staff
  • Management oversight processes
  • Cleanliness and safety in the facility

Following these tips can help keep your kids safe with individual and group caregivers. Unfortunately, sexual abuse can still happen, even when we do our best to prevent it. If you find that your child has been abused by a caregiver, then report it to authorities and contact an attorney. You may be able to hold the perpetrator accountable both in criminal and civil court.

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