Boy babysitters

While I was working with a psychiatrist as a resident, we had a discussion about child sexual abuse. He asked if I had children. Saskia was a year old at the time.

"As the father of three teenaged sons, I hate to say this," he advised. "But never let any boy or man babysit your daughter."

I find this tricky. I dislike a blanket exclusion of male babysitters; I have brothers and friends I trust completely. But evaluating babysitters for pedophilia risk on a case-by-case basis is even more discomfiting. Since most abuse is by relatives and family friends, simply excluding the neighbourhood boys from the babysitting roster misses the point.

So far, we've lucked out and found several batches of teenaged sisters who babysit for us regularly. But if they couldn't make it, and had a brother, and he offered to fill in . . .

It would be awkward, but I'd say no.