Tales of horror from the teen babysitters

20th February 1998 at 00:00
A four-week course aimed at teaching basic babysitting skills is being offered to Year 8 pupils at Hornby high school in a pilot project that it is hoped will be repeated in schools throughout Lancashire.

A survey of the 40 participants found that half had already done some babysitting.

Judging by some of the horror stories the children have told the course has not come a moment too soon. Tara Gilfinnan, 13, recalls dropping the baby she was caring for while she was feeding it. Louise Beaumont, aged 12, had to ring her mum for advice when the one-year-old she was feeding started choking.

The course is being run by Lancaster City Council and Morecambe Bay Health Authority and hopes to show children how to do the job safely and give them basic advice on their rights.

It has included first aid, fire safety, what to do if a stranger calls and coping with tantrums.

Louisa Balderson, a school nurse, said: "As well as teaching them good practice as babysitters it will also increase their confidence to ask parents the right questions and get the information they need."

At Hornby it was found that boys were as interested as girls in the course. She said: "The whole area of babysitting is one that needs to be tackled properly."

While it is against the law to leave children under the age of 12 unsupervised, there is no other legal requirement on the minimum age for a babysitter.

Ms Jones said: "The children have responded so well. Hopefully, it will not only make them better babysitters now, but when they are parents the skills they have learnt will help them be more responsible."

Tara thinks the course has been useful. "It is really good and I've learnt a lot I didn't know. Now I know what to do in an emergency."

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