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Last week, WCSC-TV News reported that, after Benjamin and Hope Jordan relocated to Charleston, they needed to find a babysitter for their 7-month-old son, Finn, but what they found was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Benjamin and Hope wanted a loving, nurturing babysitter just like any other concerned parents who both worked during the day but had no family or friends to watch them. They had done their homework and thought they had discovered her in 22-year-old Alexis Khan. She passed a background check, had credible work experience as a babysitter, and both of Finn’s parents thought she was a “good fit.”

Five months into her babysitting, however, the Jordans noticed their trusted and loyal dog, Killian, became overly protective of Finn when the babysitter came around. Despite his nickname – Kill – he is a black lab and German shepherd mix that is normally docile and friendly.

Thank God not only for canine instincts but also maternal discernment. As an act of precaution, Hope wanted to record what occurred while Kahn was babysitting. So the Jordans planted their iPhone under the couch to record any interactions between the babysitter and their infant son.

Tragically, to their horror, it captured the sounds of an abusive babysitter and a pain-shrieking beloved baby.

Benjamin explained the recording to WCSC, “It started with cussing. Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.”

He further lamented, “To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day.”

After reviewing the audio recordings, Charleston city police arrested Khan. She confessed to the crime, pleaded guilty to assault and battery and was sentenced from one to three years in prison. She’s also been placed on a child-abuse registry under South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, which will prevent her from working with children in the future.

“That is fantastic news for us to know that maybe Finn or Kill has possibly saved another child’s life,” Benjamin responded.

It was with a great sigh of relief that the Jordans told WSCS that Finn is doing well and shows no signs of negative effects from the abuse he suffered at the hands of his babysitter.

Benjamin concluded, “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife’s instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know.”

Benjamin is correct. Finn’s story ends well, but not all victims’ stories do. That is why I’m calling on parents everywhere to doubly ensure their children’s safety. And there’s no better time than now, especially with summer ending and so many returning to routines that require babysitters.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families, every day a staggering five children are lost due to abuse-related deaths – an increase from roughly three a day in 1998.

ChildHelp.org, a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect, further explained on its website that in the U.S. alone, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made annually involving more than 6 million children.

The website also explains:

  • Approximately 80 percent of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • Roughly 50-60 percent of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
  • Children who experience child abuse and neglect are about nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.
  • About 80 percent of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.

According to ChildStats.gov, in 2011, 13 percent of children ages 0-4 with employed mothers were “primarily cared for by a nonrelative in a home-based environment, such as care from a family day care provider, nanny, babysitter, or au pair.”

The above statistics stress just how important and imperative it is that parents and guardians take precautions to protect their children, no matter who watches them. Non-family and non-friend sitters carry their own particular risks, so proceed with extreme prudence.

Beneficial but not full-proof are big online care-sitting sites – like Care.com, Sittercity.com, Babysitters4hire.com, eNannySource.com or SeekingSitters.com, where background checks, identification checks and profile reviews are generally a part of each. But the truth is, nothing replaces parental attention, love and protection. If at all possible, cut down on expenses and have one parent at home (maybe even working from there). There’s no doubt that you are the best and safest child-care option for your child.

Foremost, don’t check in your brains at the door of childcare. And don’t be afraid to ask all the hard questions, do extensive background investigation and make surprise pop-ins on those who care for your most precious and priceless offspring. They’re your kids, and it’s your house, so monitor their welfare when you’re gone, even with electronic-eye devices. Once upon a time, they were cumbersome and costly, but now they’re small and relatively inexpensive. Some can even fit on a dog’s collar!

And if you don’t have the money for high-tech surveillance, use your smartphone, as the Jordans in South Carolina demonstrated. If you’re suspicious, or even if you’re not, record a day’s audio or visual events in your house. A little domestic espionage might educate you and even save someone’s life.

(If you suspect a child abuse situation or just want more information, call the National Child abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Crisis counselors are also available 24/7 online by clicking here or going to ChildHelp.org/hotline.)

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