Written by Rochel S.
In recent years, the Frum community has awoken and responded to an epidemic of child abuse – we have faced it squarely and denounced it, written articles about it, organized events to raise awareness – no one, I repeat no one, has been immune from criticism on this subject.
The process hasn’t been easy. The shame and guilt each time a new story is exposed is almost unbearable. Not with standing, most would continue this process simply because if the most serious benefit – protecting our children.
New rules and procedures have been implemented at our schools and camps, all directed at assuring the safety of our children.
Yet, it seems that we, as a community, have done well at pointing the finger at everyone – schools, Rabbonim, principals, teachers and camp counselors – they are all at fault. But what of us? Is there more we should be doing?
Assuredly, though common sense is always in order, there’s a basic assumption of safety when our children visit the home of a trusted neighbor or friend, or play or ride their bikes outside. Still, there seems to be one area in which we let our guard down, even utterly neglect, despite it being perhaps the only area fully in our control as parents. I’m referring, of course, to babysitting.
The average Frum couple goes out twice a week or more during the evenings, together or separate, be it a wedding or event or Shiur. Babysitters are in high demand.
How often do we just “borrow” a babysitter from a friend or post on Facebook asking if anyone can recommend a babysitter?
Just like that, we leave our precious children under the responsibility of someone we may not know – perhaps the Facebook recommendation was also just passed on from another friend, who thought of an acquaintance who has a daughter who seemed capable of the task. And we invite them into our home, to protect our kids. No background check, no trust, often scantly any experience. What could possibly go wrong?
It is time that we, as a community, established a babysitter database, where each listed sitter will be required to go through a police check, submit recommendations, posit experience, and demonstrate basic knowledge of how to respond in case of an emergency. Perhaps we should also demand that each babysitter go through an emergency response training, like many schools already mandate.
These requirements are elementary, and do not take much time nor effort. The effect on the cost of a babysitter would be minimal, if at all.
These aren’t drastic measures. If we can’t commit to some basic precautions on this issue, can we really demand of others to change? And can we be taken seriously when we were aren’t willing to be consistent when it comes to protecting our children?