Summer dilemma: How young is old enough to babysit?

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Summer vacation is here, and that means working parents are looking for safe child care for their children.

The American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley said nearly half of young children in this area are being cared for by kids just a few years older than them. There are no hard and fast rules on when older kids are ready to babysit, but training and safe babysitting classes are available locally for children as young as 10 years old.

“Whether we like the idea or not, young children, even younger than 11, are coming home, they are latchkey kids. They may have younger siblings they are taking care of. We want those 11-year-olds, those 12-year-olds, who have that position thrust upon them, to be better big brothers, big sisters, to have the skills, the knowledge, the training to take care of them,” said Guido Jannetti of the Red Cross.

And while 11 may seem young to be left alone or to be caring for younger kids, educators said it can work out for everyone.

“There are no actual laws and guidelines. It is on a case-by-case scenario. There are some 11-year-olds that are mature enough and can handle being left alone and babysitting,” said Karen McCallum, Boardman Park educator.

Training is available through several organizations, including Boardman Park, to help older kids take care of younger ones.

“Going through the course, you’re going to learn more than just how to burp a baby or change a diaper. You’re going to learn some key First Aid skills,” McCallum said.

That includes CPR and emergency response. All of the educators said it is best to ease children into the new positions of responsibility instead of all at once.

For more information on babysitter training, click here.

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