Is there a minimum age for someone to qualify as a babysitter? Should there be? The following is what The Children's Legal Centre has to say:"How old does a babysitter have to be?
There is no minimum federal legal age a person has to be before they can babysit.
Parents should carefully assess a babysitter under the age of 16.
Guidance from the NSPCC suggests a parent should choose a babysitter who is over the age of 16.
Under some circumstances, parents can be prosecuted if any harm comes to their child whilst a babysitter under the age of 16 is supervising.
If a parent decides to leave their child with a babysitter who is under 16, the parent must be prepared to take responsibility for anything that should go wrong in their absence. The parent is still responsible for the care and safety of their child."
Note: Some states/cities have set minimum age requirements--check your own municipality.
Years back a number of places were offering "official" baby sitter training courses for young people. Included in the courses were some basic health and safety instructions. Also stressed was what to do in an emergency. There are any number of full adults who panic when something goes wrong, who don't know what they should be doing first. Imagine being 14 or 16 and in charge of 1-4 little ones, and then imagine something going wrong. Will they know what to do and when?
Being part of a large family does not automatically confer upon a teenager specialized knowledge about handling out of the ordinary situations. My feeling is that those babysitter training courses need to be re-instituted. Shuls could give the courses or schools could as an extra curricular activity. Who gives them is not as important as having them given. At any given moment there are thousands upon thousands of young children being watched over by baby sitters. We owe our children--and yes, ourselves as well--peace of mind that these babysitters are sufficiently trained to take care of what might need taking care of.
Note: While I am focusing on teenaged baby sitters, you might also want to ask yourself if some of your older baby sitters really know what to do in an emergency.