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Babysitting free for all exposes children: report

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11:42 CET+01:00
Since Sweden's household services tax relief (RUT-avdrag) came in to effect, the babysitting business in the country has boomed.

But an investigation carried out by the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily showed an alarming lack of safeguards against who can tout their trade on the internet.

“There is no control of this industry. Today virtually anyone can call themselves a babysitter. They just advertise on the internet,“ Björn Sellström, head of the police child pornography unit, told the newspaper.

The situation is in stark contrast to the Swedish childcare and pre-school industry which is heavily regulated. Background checks are carried out prior to the hiring of anyone working with children in Sweden.

But today there are no such safeguards regulating the babysitting business.

SvD's investigation showed that a man who was convicted of sexual abuse continued to look for work as a babysitter and even started his own babysitting business.

This in itself is not enough for the police to intervene. The intent would be almost impossible to prove.

“A case like that would never lead to prosecution, despite someone fooling parents that he is the world's best babysitter,“ Sellström told SvD.

It is down to the websites security personnel and parents to discern who is a bona fide child minder and who isn't.

The household services tax relief provides tax breaks resulting in households saving up to 50 percent on a range of services including babysitting and cleaning.

According to SvD, 149 cases of child abuse have been reported to the police in Gothenburg and Stockholm since the tax relief was put into effect.

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