CareFinder’s Proposal for Keeping Your Children Safe
Due to the recent incidents of sexual assault towards children (article is in Japanese) that occurred via another babysitter matching platform, CareFinder has held proactive discussions with the government regarding babysitter matching site regulations, the responsibilities of matching sites, current safety precautions, and what the industry can do to avoid these incidents in the future.
It is also important to discuss what can be done beyond the scope of a matching platform, a single company, or childcare facility. Any entity tasked with caring for children must be safe for children.
Many people have discussed the need for an easy-to-access, centralized criminal database to make it simpler for companies to do background checks in Japan. We think that is necessary to have a background check system, such as those in use in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. However, after our discussions with the government, it seems such a system will take time to build in Japan, as it requires involving various arms of the government and changing existing privacy laws.
The current situation:
Currently, all babysitters and licensed hoikushi need to be registered with their local government, which is regulated by the koseirodosho. Any incidents that occur with hoikushi are reported at a local level. However, if a registered individual with a report against them moves, they may be able to get a job as a hoikushi in their new location because of gaps in information sharing between local governments.
The same issue applies to babysitters. If an incident occurs with a babysitter, it can be reported to their local government. However, they are able to re-register elsewhere if they relocate, or even begin working with another matching site.
Throughout our research we have found a number of vulnerabilities, mostly related to a lack of information sharing between local governments and within the childcare industry, including hoikushi and matching sites. Additionally, entities outside of the government do not have the ability to review any potential reports concerning hoikushi or babysitters.
Due to these obvious holes in reporting and the complexity surrounding Japanese law, we propose a different solution. All childcare workers should sign a waiver that allows the organization (matching site, childcare facility or school) that they are working through to report any issues (exact issues to be determined) that arise to a central database. Those organizations would also be allowed to review the central database for any reported incidents. This waiver would be in effect in perpetuity.
The centralized database would enable childcare related organizations to see if a potential hire has any history of assault against children or other incidents that have been reported. It would be separate from a normal criminal history as it would only be related to the incidents reported to this central database. Effectively, it would bar that individual from working with children, though not in other non-childcare-related fields.
While this centralized database would be easiest to enforce through the government, it could also be managed by a company or nonprofit organization, whichever would be most effective. In order to succeed, it would require buy-in from everyone.