Experts say use word-of-mouth, not Craigslist for babysitting jobs

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – We all know as parents, finding the right babysitter for our children can be quite the task. But what about on the other side of the picture? A babysitter looking for a job can be just as challenging and if you’re the parent of a child who is starting their first job as a babysitter, you may have some concerns too. Everything from who your kids are babysitting for to the location where the family lives and how your child is going about finding a job can bring some worries.

Some parents say there’s cause for concern following a case out of Eau Claire County. 31-year-old Gary Lee Bennett of Eau Claire is charged with five counts including sexual assault of a child. According to the criminal complaint, two girls that are 13 and 14-years-old had a babysitting ad on Craigslist. Bennett met them at a Fall Creek park earlier this month. The complaint says Bennett had sexual contact with both girls and could spend the rest of his life in prison. He’s due for a hearing on August 19th.

So is there a safer way to help your kids find that summer babysitting job? Experts say word-of-mouth is often a better route than another source today’s generation relies on, the internet.

“It’s just not ever a good idea in anyway shape or form for kids of any age whether they’re 12 or 19 to be putting personal information online because the wrong people may get access to it and use it for the wrong reasons,” said Paula Paters, the Safe Kids coordinator with Sacred Heart Hospital’s Center for Healthy Living in Eau Claire.

The center also teaches a babysitting course throughout the year and during that course, Pater said she encourages kids to start looking for a babysitting job through people they know.

So they're going to connect with their family members, neighbors, co-workers of their parents,” said Pater. “We always suggest a really good way to get experience is to do some babysitting at their church or synagogue’s nursery. That gives them experience as well as exposure to parents who they could maybe potentially babysit first.”

12-year-old Molly Graaskamp of Eau Claire took the course with the Center for Healthy Living a little more than a year ago and already, she has a resume built up.

“I babysat all last summer and this summer,” said Molly Graaskamp. She started off with just one job and now has built a client-list of five.

“Once you babysit for one family, they start referring you to other families and soon you just have a bunch of babysitting job,” she said.

Molly’s mom Mary Graaskamp said it all started with just a friend in the neighborhood who had younger kids.

“She enjoys it so much. She did a great job with them so from there they just spread the word through the neighborhood and now she has all kinds of jobs,” said Mary Graaskamp.

Mary said she would never let her daughter use sources like Craigslist to find a babysitting job.

“You can't be too sure and when it’s your own child, then you’re not willing to take that risk,” she said. “I would want either word of mouth or a neighborhood situation or people who I know or people who know people that I know. That would be the only way I would consider her to sit for other kids.”

Pater said throughout the course, she encourages kids to not do things like put posters up at stores or ads in the newspaper where random people might get exposure to their name and phone number.

“They just need to stick with the people that they know and eventually their business will grow by those people then referring to friends and neighbors that they have,” said Pater.

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