Mother Arrested for Using 13-yr-old as Babysitter



Some people are criticizing the mom, while others are pointing fingers at the neighbor.

When does one become qualified to babysit? Is there a specific age or grade level that accurately measures the aptness of a sitter?

A 39-year-old woman was arrested for leaving her four children – ages 13, 10, 4, and 1 1/2 – alone at home while she attended church. According to this article, she left the children in the care of her eldest child; but when a neighbor called the police, stating that the 4-year-old wandered into the yard across the street alone, this mother was charged with “risk of injury to a minor.”

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Some people are criticizing the mom, while others are pointing fingers at the neighbor, “accusing her of acting in anything but a neighborly way.”


What do you think?

Mother Arrested for Using 13-yr-old as Babysitter

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Tymarie Tymarie says:

    ppl need to mind their own business! i was babysitting at 13!! and it was her siblings at their home!!!!! wow…ppl r gettin arrested for the stupidest things these days!

  2. Profile photo of stylish stylish says:

    A teenager is qualified to babysit because it’s the age when you started to mature. In my opinion I think the neighbor had something against the mo, because as a normal neighbor you wouldn’t call the police (it’s to extreme), on the contrary you would go and help the girl.

  3. Profile photo of Brandi Brandi says:

    From what I understand,and every state is different, a teenager can babysit but is limited on how many and age. As in they can only watch children 2 and up and no more than two kids at a time. But like I said it does depend on the state and social service laws and rules. Hopefully they realize that not everyone knows the rules and she doesn’t get in too much trouble.

  4. Profile photo of BLE$$ED BLE$$ED says:

    Wow. My nephew mother leaves him with his brothers all the time. He has twin brothers that are age 1 and another brother that is age 6. He is 14 and he keeps an eye on them very well. I feel sorry for that mother. True that daughter should have kept an eye out but the neighbor should not have called the police.

  5. Profile photo of nancyk nancyk says:

    Illinois doesn’t have a legal age, either. I feel horrible for this family. Besides the arrest and public attention, they have also gained attention from DCFS, which is a horrible nightmare in and of itself. DCFS basically regulates itself, so these children could be removed from their home over something so silly and simple as this. I agree that the 13 year old should have been keeping a closer eye on the kids, but this story seems a bit extreme. God bless them, and I wish them luck with their new legal difficulties.

  6. Profile photo of ANNA ANNA says:

    Well from time to time I do get my 14 yr old to care for her babysister while their Dad & I go run errands or go out for our personal time. She takes excellent care of my 2 1/2 yr old.. she makes sure her sister eats has a bath and entertains her quit well.. I have no complaints with her caregiveing skills.. she’ll soon be 15 and she’s very protective over her babysisters ages 4 & 2 1/2.. I’m deff not a irresponsible parent my children are my world.. just thought id share this.. God Bless All.. Have a wonderful day

  7. Profile photo of Mi Mi says:

    actually after reading this article i guess you learn from it that you could be arrested just one tiny mistakes when it come yo the safetiness of your children.i think for me as long as they are in safe place that they couldn’t go out on the street and that 13 year old is smart why not..

  8. Profile photo of Janai Janai says:

    people act like such panzies about stuff like this I was left with my little sister a lot younger than thirteen..that neighbor should be ashamed of them self. its amazing how people over react over the smallest things and wonder why are kids come out so messed up or how people are always getting in trouble. how about you catch a real criminal instead of destroying the lives of a family because you feel like you know better. seriously when will people start using some common sense and courtesy.

  9. Profile photo of EdTheecat EdTheecat says:

    i let the 7 year old watch the 5 and 20 month old..but only for like a short amount of to get mail or unload the groceries…but a 13 year old is old enough to watch the siblings for a short amount of time.

  10. I think this is terrible, if your 13 year old is used to the children being that they are their siblings then what is the problem. Plus I think people need to be a litle less rude on watching everyone else and worry about themselves. If there was nothing in anyway then she had no place to step in! I babysat my neighbors kids when I was 11 and that taught me a lot! It’s up to the parents not the whole damn world!

  11. Profile photo of Seity Seity says:

    That’s just sad. I babysat all the time from at least the age of 12. Nosy neighbors are more of a problem than a solution. I’d sue the neighbor for wasting public resources and emotional trauma.

  12. Profile photo of Keria Keria says:

    Here in Colorado Springs, the law is twelve however it is suggest that the child take a babysitting course given by the local hospital on the care and first aid of infants to children. Also a babysitting license is required in order to watch children that are not related to the sitter. Though the law also state that the parents are still responsible and liable for anything that happens when their children are under the care of a minor. Say the house was to burn down with a child in it while the sitter was there, the parents are legally held accountable for the accident. So you need to trust that the minor is responsible enough to handle if a young child where to try and leave or get into things. I personally know my children are still young and get into to things a lot and would never leave them with a 12 or 13 year old simply because they are 3 and 4, at times I have a hard time keep taps on them because they are so active. 🙂 I watched my siblings as young as twelve but I also had my sitters license and I was a second mother to them already.

  13. Profile photo of Jenny Jenny says:

    Oh boy! When are they coming to arrest me? I leave my two-year-old with my thirteen-year-old whenever needed. I’m a nurse and used to work until 7pm. Daycares aren’t open til 7pm. I did call the state and asked what the laws are concerning this. They state there is no "rule" but they suggest the sitter be twelve-years-old.

  14. Profile photo of Kristin Kristin says:

    I started babysitting my brothers by myself at 10. I don’t know if I would use a 13 year old or not. My kids have a while to go before that age but when it comes to that I will interview whoever watches my kids very thouroughly. It will also depend on the age of my kids at that time as well. 😀

  15. when i was 13 i was babysit u no if u think ur child is mature then she should but if not then i can c but it depend on the mature

  16. Profile photo of Heather Heather says:

    You can sign up for babsitting classes when you are 12 at our local Y. I think it depends on the child and the level of responsibility you as a parent feel they are ready for and can handle.

  17. Profile photo of KiKi KiKi says:

    I think it depends on the individual child… 13 can be kinda young if the child is very immature… but if the child is a mature 13 year old child… then I dont see anything wrong with babysittng… !!!!

  18. i don’t agree at all. my mom started leaving me with my brother when i was 9 and he was 7. it taught me responsibility. by the time i was 11 i was the main babysitter for the entire neighborhood, watching children as young as 1. doing that from then and through my teenage years is what prepared me for having my own children one day.

  19. Profile photo of sarah bannen sarah bannen says:

    being a 1st time mom i dont think i could leave my child with a year old you just never know what could happen and if they would know what to do to safe a child life could you really want that??? if you had only a few mins to save your child would a year know what to do in them few mins??? everyone knows 911 will not be there in a few mins could you?

  20. Profile photo of Kim ShannonEditor Kim Shannon says:

    Good point! Perhaps this was a common thing and the neighbor finally just did what was best in her opinion. Thanks for sharing your opinion!!! I always love to hear another point of view.

  21. Profile photo of Jessica Jessica says:

    when i was 13 i was left with my 8yr old and 2yr old sister as well as my 3yr old and 1yr old cousins all the time. I started babysitting alone when i was 12 for friday night dinners or just the occasional shopping trip.

  22. Profile photo of Makayla Makayla says:

    Parents should follow what their state law says if there is such a clarification. Mine says 12 as long as they can answer a few safety and common sense questions correctly. It also limits the ages and number of children as well as the amount of time the individual can be left alone. Of course laws only take into consideration the TYPICAL situation and parents need to be knowledgeable of their child’s maturity level and ability to handle possibly stressful situations. Two different teens can have two different maturity levels where one could be trusted caring for children and the other can’t. After the laws (if there are any) it should be judged by the parent whether their older child is able to care for the younger siblings and for what stretch of time. If a neighbor feels there is some problem I believe that the neighbor has every right to contact authorities but really, the neighbor should probably speak with the parent about it instead of jumping straight to the authorities. The neighbor could be over-reacting, but then again, I do not know the whole story. If the authorities do choose to investigate this claim, age should not be the ONLY factor taken into consideration. This could also be a repeat occurrence and the neighbor has possibly spoken to the parents about this happening to no avail. In a situation like this one every aspect needs to be looked at instead of making a definitive judgement based on one or two pieces of information.

  23. Profile photo of DPerkins DPerkins says:

    I completely think it all depends on the 13 year old and their maturity level. I was taking care of kids for days at a time at 12 and 13 years old. I have left my 13 year old in charge of his sibling for a few moments, but would never leave for any length of time. Some kids are responsible enough, some aren’t.

  24. Profile photo of heps7 heps7 says:

    By the time I was 10 my neighbor had me watching her 3 kids which were 7,5 and 1. I was very responsible at that age so my neighbor trusted me and also my parents were right next door. My parents would also leave me in charge of my brother and sister around that time also. I can’t say that I would leave my 8 month old with his 11 year old step brother but he’s also not responsible at all. It all depends on the child.

  25. Profile photo of Anna Jones Anna Jones says:

    This is just ridiculous. There was an 11 year old difference between my eldest brother and youngest sister and my parents would leave us at home around the time he was 13. By that time we were 13, 11, 9, 7, and 2. I don’t see a problem with it, the eldest sibling would know her siblings and how to discipline them better than any one that they brought in to baby sit. Can a 13 year old drive to the hospital if something emergent happened? No, but that’s why we have cell phones.