Crimes against children by babysitters

The most precious gift in life we receive is our children. When our children are sad, we are sad with them. When our children get hurt, we hurt twice as bad. The love we feel for our children is like none we’ve ever felt before and we’ll go to the end of the world to protect them. Children are at increased risk for crime victimization. Not only are children the victims of many of the same crimes that victimize adults, they are subject to other crimes, like child abuse and neglect, that are specific to childhood. The impact of these crimes on young victims can be devastating and can lead to an intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse. In recent years, parents and policy makers have become increasingly concerned with ensuring the safety of children when left in the custody of childcare workers. Parents are particularly concerned about babysitters, whose recruitment and screening are often informal. Nonfamilial paid babysiters have made parents anxious ever since they became a nearly universal social phenomenon in the post-World War II childrearing environment. As mothers entered the workforce and fewer families lived with other relatives, more and more parents relied on babysitters to care for their children. Although only 14 percent of our Nation’s 18.5 million children less than 5 years old are cared for regularly by a non-related in-home childcare or family daycare provider, many’perhaps most’have been cared for by a babysitter on occasion. Until recently, little was known about the prevalence of criminal offenses among babysitters. Babysitters are one of the new categories of offenders for whom specific information is now being collected within the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s growing National Incident-Based Reporting System. Consider the following statistics: ‘ Babysitters account for approximately four percent of crimes committed against children less than six years old, a rate below that of complete strangers. ‘ Among the reported offenses that babysitters commit, sex crimes outnumber physical assaults nearly two-to-one. ‘ Children most at risk of physical assault by babysitters are ages one to three. ‘ Children most at risk of sexual assault by babysitters are ages three to five. ‘ Males constitute the majority of sex-offending babysitters reported to the police (77 percent). ‘ Females make up the majority of physical assaulters (64 percent). ‘ Juvenile offenders are responsible for nearly half the babysitter sex crimes known to police, but only 15 percent of the physical assaults. These statistics do not include school or daycare child care providers.

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