Friday, March 8, 2013

México: Without Careful Screening, Vetting of Local Child Care Providers in Foreign Countries, Global Parents May Face Tragedy

This posting may be unsettling for some parents to read, yet it must be read, if young parents traveling abroad are to be spared the tragedy described below:

Police in the Mexican state of Nayarit arrested Eleodoro Carlos Rodríguez Sánchez, 30, AKA Carlos Roberto Tapia Sánchez, following the February 28 sexual assault and murder of US citizen Axel Charrette, age 2.

Mexican law enforcement also arrested Sánchez' former girlfriend, Nancy Saralee Solorio Pérez, 19, on suspicion of murder because she allegedly did nothing to stop the sexual assault and homicide.

Sánchez reportedly haconfessed to beating and sexually assaulting Axel, as well as tossing him into a swimming pool to drown in Puerto Vallarta, near the beach village of Sayulita, where Randy and Jen Charrette, were on an extended road trip of México, with their two children, Axel Charrette, 2, and his brother, Kalden Charrette, age 7.

According to police, the Charrettes had hired Solorio Pérez to care for the two children, when Sánchez came to the home that the Charrettes had rented in Sayulita. 

Solorio Pérez told police that Sánchez came in through a garage door and that when she went to check on the kids, she found Axel's naked and lifeless body in the swimming pool. The boy was taken to a hospital in nearby San Pancho, where physicians determined that he had been beaten and sexually assaulted before he died of drowning. 

The Charrettes older son, Kalden, was reportedly in another part of the home while Axel was being assaulted and drowned.
Randy and Jen Charrette released a statement this week to local media disputing Solorio Pérez' version of what happened, saying that the babysitter [Solorio Pérez] had let Sánchez into the locked gates of the home and then hid in a closet when she realized that her boyfriend was in a violent, drug-induced rage

COMMENT: It goes without saying that our condolences and prayers go out to the Charrette family in the hope that the prosecution of Sánchez and Solorio Pérez give them some sense of justice and closure, so that other parents don't experience the same devastation as did the Charrettes.

Since Axel's death, the Charrettes have returned to their home in Ridgeway, CO to grieve and repair their tarnished lives, which no doubt will never, ever be the same.

Although SUNSET MAGAZINE apparently described Sayulita as one of "the safest places to stay in México" prior to the assault and murder of young Axel, as I have said so many times in the past, "there are no 'safe places' on Earth, only lesser or greater security vulnerabilities that enable a crime to occur."

It is also imprudent for any travel magazine to tout any destination as safe, because once described as such, someone is likely to be victimized.

From all indications, local authorities in Nayarit acted promptly and professionally. Even the Mexican Consulate General in Denver issued a statement saying, "On behalf of the government of México, we express our deepest condolences to the Charrette family."

Having worked in developing countries most of my adult life, I must emphasize that there are both prudent and imprudent ways of interviewing and vetting locals to care for one's small children when abroad, whether it be short-term or long-term:

1. First of all, NEVER place your children in the hands of any foreign person without conducting an IN-DEPTH interview;

2. Remember, you're selecting ONE person to be responsible for the safety and security of your child or children, not to mention keeping them entertained, amused, fed, put to bed and nurtured;

3. Don't hire MORE than one person to be responsible for your children;

4. Not to be legalistic, but have an attorney in the country you are in prepare a simple employment contract in your language and the local language clarifying what you DO and DON'T want the child care provider to do. Such an agreement should also identify the name, address and national identity card number (or driver's license) of the individual you've hired. Ensure that the agreement complies with local labor regulations and spells out that the child care provider consume NO alcoholic beverages and/or illegal substances;

5. The agreement should also stipulate that the individual you've hired is expected to have a police check done with the national police. You should pay for this service;

6. Take a photograph of the person you've hired so that those in the community know who is authorized to pick up and drop off your child(ren) up from activities;

7. DON'T hire ANYONE to care for your children without written letters of reference;

8. Carefully observe your child(ren) with the child care provider to ensure that the rapport between them is healthy and positive before leaving them for an extended period of time;

9. Provide the child care provider with meal instructions and a list of medications the child is authorized to take with adult assistance;

10. Provide the child care provider with how to reach you in an emergency by phone. This should include at least two contact numbers, one of which is a mobile; 

11. Ensure that the child care provider has some fluency in your child's language; such failure can leave your child feeling isolated;

12. In selecting a child care provider, be observant and cautious in selecting a person to care for your children, particularly as it relates to gender issues and the risk of exposing your child to someone who may have inclinations toward child abuse, be it physical or sexual; and

13. Ensure that after the child care provider has left the home in conjunction with periodic absences, that you ask your child in a friendly manner as to how their time together went, gently probing for any evidence of an improper experience.