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BoyWonder's avatar

What do you do if you know of a kid who's being neglected?

Asked by BoyWonder (806points) February 20th, 2009

I know a 4-year old who is being neglected TO THE MAX. Who could I turn to for fast help before something happens to the little guy?

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22 Answers

KrystaElyse's avatar

Contact the National Child Abuse & Neglect hotline – 1–800-4-A-CHILD (1–800-422–4453)

Bluefreedom's avatar

And your local police department along with Child Protective Services.

augustlan's avatar

Do it as soon as you possibly can!

TaoSan's avatar

Call them, ASAP!!!

Also, try to document as much as you can.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Please do this.

cookieman's avatar

PS: Good job looking out for this particular munchkin. Nice to see some people still care about something other than themselves.

Good luck.

basp's avatar

I hope things work out….......good luck to you and the kid.

Darwin's avatar

Call CPS and give them specifics.

Even if it turns out not to be true (or as true as you think) you should still call.

Someone called CPS on us recently – my son convinced someone at school that he had no clean clothes (he did and does but he throws them on the floor so the dogs sleep on them), there was no food in the house (he meant there are no chips or ice cream, just gross stuff like apples, eggs, sandwich makings, spaghetti, cereal, and so on), we beat him (actually he hits my husband to try to get out of taking his meds) and that there are drugs in the house (well, yeah – he takes anti-psychotics, his dad is a diabetic with multiple problems, and I take thyroid medicine so we do have prescription drugs in the house, but nothing even remotely recreational).

The CPS guy came out to the house and took pictures of the food in the pantry, the clean clothes in the dryer, and the the mess that my son calls his room, and left smiling. As he pointed out, our son was abusing us, not the other way around, so there was nothing he could do because he is charged with protecting children, not their parents.

The only one that was really upset was my teenaged daughter because he came to her school and asked her questions about stuff that was none of his business, like about drugs and just stuff!

In our case it was untrue, but I can’t fault the person that called. If it had been true then a child could have been in danger.

So call, but bear in mind that specifics are a great help to them – tell them how the child is being abused and how you know; recount specific instances where you have witnessed abuse, with dates, times and locations if possible. They are a branch of law enforcement and the justice system so they need evidence and concrete examples.

Good luck!

Bagardbilla's avatar

Is it just me or have we all forgotten OUR responsibilities as community members?
I mean growing up if a neighbor saw me doing something wrong I would be reprimanded and then sent home to tell my folks what I was caught doing wrong. Similarly if there was something of concern the neighborhood ladies or gents would pay my folks a visit.
I’d reccomend you dothe same, you can raise your concern, you can offer to help. It’s tough times out there the last thing you want to do is make it tougher for someone else! Save the authorities (I’ve heard horror stories about how they go about charging into situations) as a last resort. In the meantime i recommend you see how you can help.

basp's avatar

Badgerdilla
Sometimes the direct apprach is not the best. The abuser will just be more careful to make sure the abuse is more descrete from public eyes.
It is best to call authorities. Yes, there are horror stories about how the authoities screw up, but that is the exception rather than the norm.

Darwin's avatar

@Bagardbilla – It depends on what the asker means by “being neglected to the max” as to how they step in to help. If a typical kid in my neighborhood throws a rock at a car or another kid, I’ll tell them not to. If the kid tells me to “F___ off!” and throws another one, I’ll go to his parents. If his parents then tell me to “F_____ off!” then I might consider calling the cops the next time or CPS if the kid turns up with a black eye.

What if you see a little kid sitting outside crying, with a bloody lip, and the parent is shouting “You little f________. That’s what you get for making me wait!” What if this isn’t the first time you’ve seen something like that? Do you really think approaching the neighbor yourself is a great idea? When my dad caught the neighbor kids trashing our pool and went to their parents about it, one man’s response was to give his son a BB gun and tell him to shoot at our windows.

What if you come home from work several times a week to discover a filthy toddler standing in the middle of the street wearing nothing but a wet diaper on a cold day? The first few times you take the child to its home and check to see if grandpa is all right only to find him passed out drunk on the couch and the front door wide open. This is something that happened in my neighborhood and I called CPS (it turned out several other neighbors also called). CPS arranged for the child to go to a subsidized daycare so grandpa didn’t have to be the primary caretaker during the day, and then grandma would take over in the evenings (mom was only 14 and was in school).

We don’t know here what “neglected to the max” means, but I suppose we assume a certain level of intelligence on the part of the asker because, after all, they Fluther.

Have they witnessed the child being beaten?

Do the parents conduct drug transactions in the house, and leave guns lying around?

Do they lock the child outside for long periods?

Does the child show signs of injury beyond the usual scrapes and bumps of childhood?

Calling CPS actually can be one of our responsibilities as community members. We don’t know why this person believes the child is being abused. We also don’t know if they have already approached the parents of the child. And we don’t know what the demeanor of the parents is that might preclude approaching them.

I am not upset that someone called CPS on our family recently. Quite frankly if what my son claimed was true he would have been being neglected. However, the school has learned something I have long told them. My son is a manipulator and not above lying or exaggerating or leaving out vital details if he thinks it will get him what he wants. However, he is fourteen. The child under consideration here is only four.

Bagardbilla's avatar

@gasp. I think boywonder said the child was being “neglected”
@Darwin. I agree with you,and I am saying the same thing you said so elaquently that BoyWonder needs to find out for sure if of is simply a “Negelect” issue or “Abuse”.
Let’s not make the situation worse for the child, until we have all the facts.

Darwin's avatar

@Bagardbilla – I don’t believe we are saying the same thing at all. You want him to go do something directly, I want him to refer to the experts but share his evidence with them.

In the eyes of CPS, Neglect is as much a reason for removal as Abuse, but the consequences are different. In a case of neglect, CPS may see what they can do to help the family either learn to care for the child properly or find them the assistance they need. In a case of abuse criminal charges often follow. In a case where neglect leads to injury or death, then criminal charges may also follow.

You said “Save the authorities (I’ve heard horror stories about how they go about charging into situations) as a last resort. In the meantime i recommend you see how you can help.” And I am saying call the authorities. They aren’t the demons you hear about on the sensationalist 6 pm news.

BoyWonder said “Who could I turn to for fast help before something happens to the little guy?” which implies some feeling of risk of illness or injury or something more severe as well as something he cannot do something about for whatever reason.

I still say call CPS. They have many more options at hand other than slamming everyone into jail and foster care, and have access to programs we, as neighbors, do not.

And I also say gather your facts before calling, whether it is a case of abuse or neglect, but I am not saying do your own investigation. You have to communicate why you are calling in a way that allows the authorities to act. You can’t call CPS to claim a child is neglected and say “Well, he looks skinny.” You need to be able to say that this four-year-old child is being left alone in his family apartment from 8 am to 5 pm every weekday, and that this is a continuous pattern of behavior on the part of the parents.

My neighbor’s little boy at age 3 and 4 used to walk into my house uninvited (and those of several other neighbors) and grab food out of my refrigerator. Without any further information one could assume that he is being neglected at home because he seems to be starving. In actual fact, there was plenty of food at home and his mom was frantically trying to figure out where he went. He just hadn’t yet learned the boundaries that other kids his age pick up on.

And that toddler I mentioned in my earlier answer – that was very much a case of neglect, but could have ended up with the child catching pneumonia or being hit by a car.

Bagardbilla's avatar

@Darwin
Yes, I am telling BoyWonder to be absolutly sure (agreeing with you to get the facts before acting) that there is a reason to get CPS involved, he’s not given us all the details!
Therfore the long list you’ve proposed may be valid but not necessarly pertinent in this particular situation. I’m simply proposing that he make sure for himself, before getting the authorities involved. Here, there can be an opperrunity to help a neighbor out, or not!
My co-workers’ wife was a case worker, the stories I’ve heard out of her mouth re what she HAS to do by law are enough to send shivers up any parents’ spine.
@boyWonder get the facts first.

basp's avatar

Bagardbilla
Neglect is abuse.

(sorry I misspelled your name so terribly in the earlier response)

LouisianaGirl's avatar

Contact Child Services and the cops and have the abuser put away for life and the victim in a safer home where they are loved and cared for daily. Don`t keep that a secret.

Darwin's avatar

@Bagardbilla – No, we do not agree. You want him to go investigate and see if the child is neglected. I want him to organize his thoughts and make a list of why he already believes the child to be neglected. Big difference.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

@Darwin very smart i didnt think about that

BoyWonder's avatar

So happy to see you all share my concerns for the little guy. So many people in the world overlook things that are as important as this issue here. Now for the details…

The kid is 4 years old, lives with his mom and 2 aunties. Mind you, mom is 23, the aunties are around the same age. Father’s a deadbeat but him and the mother have an understanding. They’re both deadbeats actually. The mother brings random guys over and sleeps with them, while the kid has no food, no clean clothes, no proper teaching. He isn’t potty trained, can’t speak properly and calls his parents by their first names. When the aunties complain to the mother that the kid has no food, all she does is walk out the house. Mom is drunk all the time, only has the kid around to claim him on her taxes…the aunties wanna call CPS but they’re trying to see if they can talk to the mother to come to some kind of resolution, but she’s not receptive to that. The mother doesn’t work and expects her cousin and her sister to pick up the slack. Sometimes the kid is in the same room with his mom while she’s fucking other guys. She has no patience and repeatedly hits the kid when she gets fed up, and the aunties are usually there to intervene. I can fill you in on more details later or if you need a better understanding, ask away and I’ll try to get more info. Forgive me if i’m scattered in my thoughts, i’m just so emotional about this.

Darwin's avatar

I would say call CPS, tell them what you just said and how you know about it. Let them take it from there.

augustlan's avatar

I second Darwin. Give this problem to the professionals. Lurve to you for doing the right thing.

Bagardbilla's avatar

I, humbly concur.

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