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2014年3月22日 (土)

ネット託児事件 ベビーシッターの質も確保を

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 21, 2014
Recent fatal incident underlines need for ensuring quality of babysitters
ネット託児事件 ベビーシッターの質も確保を(3月21日付・読売社説)

A recent fatal case has brought into stark relief the dangerous aspects inherent in online babysitting service sites.

Kanagawa prefectural police have arrested a man on suspicion of abandoning the body of a 2-year-old boy he had been asked to care for via an online babysitting service site.

Even before the incident, the child’s mother, a resident of Yokohama, had previously used the man’s babysitting services through the online site, but had found various problems with his babysitting habits. However, this time the man used a fictitious name in an exchange of e-mails, and a proxy appeared at a designated meeting place. She entrusted the boy and his 8-month-old younger brother to the proxy, also a babysitter, without knowing the man in question would actually be babysitting again.

The boy was found dead in an apartment in Saitama Prefecture three days later. The whole picture of this fatal case must be urgently unraveled, and measures to prevent the recurrence of such a terrible incident must be worked out.

Behind the spread of online babysitting service sites is the convenience of being able to secure babysitters at lower costs and more quickly than via babysitter-dispatch agencies. For economic reasons, many parents have no alternative but to ask for babysitters from online sites to take care of their children.

However, it has been pointed out that online babysitting sites are not completely trustworthy because they do not confirm the identities of the babysitters.

Fact-finding is more important than anything else. This was emphasized by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura, who said, “We’d like to examine the circumstances to understand the nature of these services.”

Room for improvement

There is room for improvement not only in online babysitting sites, but also in the babysitting industry as a whole. No public qualification is required for babysitters and no registration is mandatory with administrative offices. In fact, administrative checks have failed to reach the actual babysitting work to which children’s lives are entrusted.

On the other hand, the way parents’ work has diversified, and the number of single-parent households has been increasing. The demand for babysitters who can provide service at night and on holidays has therefore been rising in recent years.

Ensuring the quality of babysitters is a big challenge.

The All Japan Childcare Services Association, comprising 100 member companies, has set its own qualification system for babysitters. More voluntary efforts are urged on the part of the babysitting industry as a whole.

Under a new system for supporting child-rearing that will begin in fiscal 2015, some babysitting businesses will be licensed by the governments of cities, towns and villages. Subsidies will be provided to babysitters if they receive designated seminar programs.

The subsidies thus granted will lessen the financial burden on those using babysitting services. This is expected to lead to eliminating dishonest operators who advertise their low-price services. The quality of babysitters must be enhanced as a whole by expanding such a support system.

Users are responsible for deciding which babysitters they will choose. In the aftermath of the fatal incident, the welfare ministry has presented a list of matters to be attended to when using babysitters. These include having an interview beforehand to confirm whether babysitters can be trusted. It is crucial to pay attention to such matters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 21, 2014)
(2014年3月21日01時25分  読売新聞)


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