When would you call child protective services?

Tracey - posted on 05/24/2012 ( 29 moms have responded )

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Two situations causing concern.

First family are very loving and parents would never dream of mistreating their kids but they are not very intelligent, both parents have special needs, don't know the meaning of discipline so the boys run wild knowing they can get away with anything including stealing, shoplifting and minor vandalism. They spend all their money on toys for the kids yet they can't afford to pay household bills and have bailiffs turning up. The kids are permanently dirty (as in unclean, not playing in the garden dirty), smelly and have ill fitting clothes, the house is filthy and you feel like you need a bath after being near them. They won't take advice or help from people as they can't see they are doing anything wrong.

Second family has a history of being people you don't mess with. Kids are clean, healthy, friendly and have lovely manners. Parents are extremely strict and hit the kids whenever they do something wrong or are disrespectful. Daughter (16) has a boyfriend they disapprove of so they lock her in her room except for school and have confiscated all forms of communication including phone and lap top. They have sealed her window shut so she can't run away and have been hitting her in a way that doesn't bruise so no-one will believe her.

Would you mind your own business and not get involved or would you make the call?

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Danielle - posted on 05/26/2012

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We are completing 27hrs of mandatory DHS foster training due to having a kinship/foster child in our home since late March. During training, they've told us that we are legally obligated to report all suspected abuse. Oftentimes people will try to give the other parents/families benefit of the doubt, but it really boils down to if you suspect it, you need to report it. It's the professionals' jobs to investigate if there's abuse &/or neglect and take it from there.



I actually wish more reports had been filed against my dad & stepmom. Child Protective Services didn't come out until 4-6mos after YEARS of abuse I suffered from them both, and by then I was within 2mos of graduating from high school so I didn't admit anything. It didn't seem fair to me to pull me from school, friends, sports, etc. when I was so close to getting the hell out of dodge + the stigma that would've come with it for me... it wasn't worth it. If reports had been filed YEARS before (I experienced the abuse from 11.5yo to 17.5yo), perhaps I would've gotten out of the situation well before it escalated as it did &/or my dad would've stopped, subsequently not also molesting my half-sister (their daughter). The school counselor found out about the beatings when I was 15yo but never reported them to the police so when we got back stateside, they became even worse with my having to strip off all my clothes, be gagged & tied down spread-eagle on my dad's bed while he beat me wherever the belt landed. Sometimes I would have the choice between that or him molesting me. I'm 42yo now I still bear the scars from my time with them.



Report your suspicions. Even if it isn't as bad for the kids yet, perhaps getting the authorities to investigate will keep any abuse from escalating. Better to know you at least did your part and tried to help the kids, than turn a blind eye like so many others.

Merry - posted on 05/27/2012

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Both are borderline IMO.
The teen girl could call social services herself if she feels she needs external help. You could give her the phone number. I called social services on my dad when I was 16 and he was abusive my little siblings. It's not illegal to spank a kid as long as it doesn't leave a mark so really they're not breaking the law.
Yes it would be a safety hazard to lock her in her room but idk if that's enough for a call. I guess I might call on them just to get them maybe to look at themselves and rethink their methods.
But on the other hand how do you know that calling might just get that girl even more abuse if her parents sweet talk the SS out and then go to punnish her.

First situation i think it would be a good idea to call just because the kids would likely get some help and maybe some resuorces for the parents. ID hope they don't get taken away though. That could be deemed necessary based on how special needs the parents are.

Shelley - posted on 05/24/2012

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I also agree with LMCBW. I have worked closely with Family Services in QLD Australia. They can't check out situations that they don't know about and as has been previously started a child Unless they don't take kids as a first resort unless they have no choice. A lot of families are pointed in the direction of help. Physical needs such as reduced priced food, clothing, furniture and school needs. Emotional needs Family counselling, Parenting courses, Help with finances eg How to budget, How to clean, How to cook and provide meals for a family. Also free training and education for reading and writing, certificate courses and help to find a job. Social workers are not monsters trying to take kids away from their parents its actually cheeper and easier on the system if they can just help people to make a better life for themselves.

Jodi - posted on 05/25/2012

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LMCBW, I wouldn't be concerned if someone called CPS on me, I would let them do their investigation, talk to our doctor etc etc, and take any suggestions they had for me. Considering I do not, by any standard of the laws here, abuse or neglect my children physically, mentally or emotionally, there just isn't a whole lot CPS could do. So even if a neighbor thinks that my putting my 3 year old in time outs is abusive, or that letting her ride her scotter down to the stop sign and back by herself is neglectful (a whole MAYBE 5 yards away), I am confident CPS would leave confident in their belief that we are good parents. And I would hope, that if someone truly though that I was abusing my kids, that they WOULD call CPS, just like I would call CPS if I truly thought someone else was abusing their kids. CPS isn't this big monster-like system that's out with teeth bared and claws sharpened to snatch little children away from their parents. If the parents are good parents, CPS will back off pretty dang fast, if you need help as a parent, they get you the help you need, and if your children are in danger with you, they will remove the children from danger until a future date when you are capable (hopefully) of being a good parent.

Becky - posted on 05/27/2012

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As a former child protection worker, I would say that the first scenario is actually the one more likely to be of concern to Children's Services. I think this is a pretty clear-cut case of neglect and the family is definitely in need of some support. Of course, getting support from family, friends and the community is the ideal, but if many have tried and they won't accept anyone's help, then it is time to get child welfare involved. Meeting a child's needs does not only include ensuring they have clothing, food and shelter. It also means protecting their social and emotional development, and that is what is not happening in this case.
The second case is more iffy, largely because it is a teen and it is not uncommon for teens to blow things out of proportion when they have disagreements with their parents. I'm not saying that she is doing that, but very often allegations like this, particularly with teens, where there is no physical evidence of abuse, come down to the child's word vs. the parents'. And the child cannot be removed from her home simply based on what she says if the parents categorically deny it and there is no evidence to back up her claims. It certainly doesn't hurt to report it, but it's less likely to actually go anywhere then the first case is.

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29 Comments

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Mother - posted on 11/14/2013

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*applauding Erin*

Couldn't have said it better. I think people are too quick to call child protective services or childrens aid.

Angelina - posted on 10/06/2013

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Is it nessesary to call cps when ever the mother is mad at anyone or anything she starts to cause and yell at the child. The physical punishment is getting wores she had bruises from the mother grabbing her arm and the other night pulled the 4 year old by her hair and she fell. The yelling is becoming unbareable and after the episodes the mother takes off and leave the child with the grandmother. I need an opinion.

Erin - posted on 06/06/2012

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I'd mind my own business unless

a) the children are starving or are malnourished
b) the physical punishmen causes substantial or unreasonable injury
c) the dirtyness caused sickness or disease

What I do not consider abuse:

a) confiscating a laptop, or phone
b) taking measures even if a bit extreme to keep a child from becoming pregnant at age sixteen
c)physical punishment that is reasonable
d) being less intelligent than me
e) being tough or not one to mess with
f)dirty house
g)dirty clothes

I think that people need to realize the difference between what we just don't like and what is and is not abuse. More often than not people like this are just very stupid and just don't know what to do ruining their lives by taking their kids away is probably not the answer.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/27/2012

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CPS, does not take kids away unless it is a last resort. It is the very last thing they want to do. There has to be some serious shit going on, for them to take kids out of a home. Their first intent is to provide resources to the parents and children. If their first intent was to take the childrenn, there would be a heck of a lot more kids in the governments care. Even if there is abuse, they still will often put the parents and children through counselling. It is not until it does not get better, that they may have to take the children. My friend (CPS worker) has told me, the rate of them removing children from a home, is less than 1%. It is just something, they do their best to avoid.



For some reason many people's first reaction with CPS is that they are going to take my kids. It just simply, is not true. If you are doing everything correctly and are not abusing or breaking any laws, they will not turn your home upside down, they will thank you and leave. It is common for people to have this misconception of them being monsters but in reality, they are not anything close. They are simply a resource.



ETA:

If you have any inclination at all, that there is something wrong going on, it is important to call. Let the professionals figure it out. They are there for a reason. If the girl in the 2nd scenario went to her school counsellor, they would be obligated to call CPS. At least here, they are. Even the mention of any abuse, they call CPS. Even the mention of a child threatening to hurt themsleves, they call the cops and CPS. When it comes to kids, you really should err on the side of caution and not dismiss it as nothing, since it just may be worse than you suspect.

Tracey - posted on 05/26/2012

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I have been falsely reported to CPS by someone who thought it would get me the sack from a child related job so I do know what that feels like. I will always remember the phone call where they said "this is CPS there has been an allegation of neglect we are coming round on Tuesday with a plain clothes police officer". After 10 minutes with our family they apologised for being there and accepted that all the allegations were completely false.

I have no physical proof that the girl is being hit, she told me. Smacking is legal over here as long as it doesn't leave a mark so the parents are not technically doing anything wrong. My concern is, as one lady mentioned in case of a fire the girl cannot get out, and that as she is meeting the boy at school if the parents find out the situation is going to escalate.

The first family will not take help from anyone, many have tried to help, friends, family, teachers etc, but they think that as long as the kids are happy they are not doing anything wrong. I feel that the only people who can have an impact on them are social services.

Sarah - posted on 05/25/2012

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Maybe in the first scenario, it would be best to get them help outside of getting SS involved. In order to help the family accept your advice, you would have to get over the idea that being near them makes you cringe. You may have to just get dirty and truly befriend them to earn their trust and the trust of those close to them and try not to judge them for the negative aspects of their parenting if you know they are loving. Although not an easy task, this is just one idea.

Sarah - posted on 05/25/2012

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I think I lean toward LMCBW's view on this. You haven't said how you know the teen is being hit for sure. Her parents should probably find another way to discipline besides ALWAYS resorting to hitting, but sometimes it is okay. I would be extrememly hurt by any anonymous neighbor calling DSS and it would cause me to scrutinize my parenting skills even more than I already do. I think most parents already have fears they are not parenting as best they could, without a government agency getting involved, causing them to be even more paranoid about the way they are raising their children. I don't think SS could do anything about the first situation, except give advice to the parents and kids. Are you sure the only reason the teen is being locked in her room is that her parents dislike her boyfriend? My main concern with the second scenario is that locking her door and window cause a major safety issue if her house caught fire. Dig a little deeper into the second scenario and if you still feel the need, call.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/24/2012

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I guess a kid can't count on LMCBW to help them out, unless there was a very serious issue, that was very apparent. Meh. Too bad it just may be too late by then.



ETA:

Oh and I believe that is the very first time I have ever said "I know for a fact". Go find another post where I have ever said that, please.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/24/2012

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I know because I know people that work for SS. Do you?



So, how do YOU know LMCBW, that having SS called causes problems with the family? You have yet to answer my question.



ETA:

If there was no reason for SS to be called, I am sorry but it should NOT be nerve racking. Unless they have something to hide. Why would anyone be worried, if they had nothing to worry about? Enlighten me again, please.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/24/2012

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Oh give me a break meme you always "know for a fact". So you know every single fucking family in the entire world that has had ss called on them for false claims and how it effected their family? BAHAHAHAHA...that is literally me laughing in your face.

I "know for a fact" and have seen first hand it rip a family apart. Being under investigation of SS is and can be very nerve racking. It can create problems that were not there. I don't give a shit how you box from this corner of yours. And sometimes when they don't find something, it is NOT an open and shut case.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/24/2012

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LMCBW---What damage do you think it causes? I know for a fact it doesn't, so please enlighten me.

If SS shows up, does their investigation and finds nothing, they close the case. How is that damaging? It would much more damaging if there was something going on and you as a bystander did nothing.

An investigation consists of:
1. Meeting with the child(ren).
2. Meeting with the parent(s) in the home.
3. Asking for an external reference (such as a doctor).

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/24/2012

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But perspective is everything Jodi....YOU may not think you are doing anything even remotely abusive to your children, but someone else might and call social services on you. That is my point. I don't think people should be so freely calling social services. It can cause so much damage to the family.

Jodi - posted on 05/24/2012

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I think social services is there for us to call to prevent if from being a serious case. If I have even an inkling of suspicion that someone is abusing or neglecting their kids, I'm going to call. No child deserves to be abused or neglected for any amount of time, every child deserves to have adults look out for them. If it were my kid (which is easy for me to say since I don't even come remotely close to abusing or neglecting my kids) I would hope someone would call for my kids' sakes. Now, do I call for spanking? No, do I call for "extreme disciplines" no. IMO, if you think a child even *might* be getting abused at home...it's serious enough a case to call.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/24/2012

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Anyone can call social services on anyone at anytime for any reason. I think it needs to be reserved for serious cases.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/24/2012

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Also, I disagree with being careful with when or who you call SS on. If you as a caring, stable citizen think there is any need, whatsoever, to make a call, do it! You just may save a child. Don't be calling for stupid reasons of course. Make sure it is a serious issue, that you witness terrible acts occurring, over and over again.

If there is even a slight chance something bad is going on, a call is required. Children do not have a voice to make that call. They need others to help them. To just stand by, could be one of the biggest mistakes you ever made. A child's cry for help, deserves an ear to listen, turning a blind eye is just as bad as what the person hurting them is doing.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/24/2012

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I would most definitely call in both situations.

The first one, while not sanitary and perhaps a dangerous environment, may be acceptable to SS. What you or I deem appropriate may differ, than the State/National tolerance. However, it is not a call you need to determine. I would be calling SS and letting them make that decision.


The second situation gives me utter shivers. That would be an immediate call for me. No one deserves to be treated in such a way, EVER. I don't care if it is legal where they live, the fact is it still is a basis for SS to check it out. Let SS make the decision. I would feel obligated to make the call. What if she wound up dead tomorrow because the last straw was broke, in the parents eyes? She is not only being hit, she is being locked in her room. If they are hitting her so as to not show any visible signs, then I would have to say, they KNOW better. They are fucking her up emotionally and even if it is legal, she needs someone (outside) of her home, to talk to. Period!

Beth - posted on 05/24/2012

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The first situation would be difficult for me. On the one hand, the parents could use some help, but are refusing it, and the children seem to be learning some bad habits and lessons from it. On the other hand, are the boys thriving? What I mean is, do they seem hungry or unhealthy in any way? As long as a child's physical health is not in danger, I kind of feel like people are just parenting the best way they know how, and sometimes stuff like baths and bills get pushed aside. As for the crimes they commit, it's them committing the crimes, not the parents. I'd probably report the child to the police, and hope they could get through to them before they're adults. That paragraph makes me sound naive, I know that's probably not how it will work out, but one can hope? In the second case, I'd make the call, hands down. In addition to physical abuse, they're emotionally and mentally abusing that girl. They're punishing her for things she (presumably) hasn't even done yet with the boyfriend. You can't cut a child off of their world like that. And certainly with the hitting, 16 is way too old to be using physical punishment on a child. And if you're putting the forethought into it to avoid bruises, you know you're doing something wrong.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/24/2012

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The parents in the second scenario, although harsh, have every right to limit that girls contact with friends. And how do you know she is being hit for certain? Especially if there are no marks.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/24/2012

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I don't think in either of these situations it is life threatening, but could be construed as abusive. The first case is more about neglect, the second case is over bearing parents. I think social services should be called on the first, or some sort of help line to teach the parents the proper way to handle certain situations. It sounds like they are fully capable and love their children dearly, but there is a difference between wanting your kids to be happy to the fullest, and neglecting care due to that.

The second case is trickier IMO. No ones kids should be hit, but if it is not against the law in that area......I don't know if it would be a valid case. They are punishing her, and I am not sure if the courts would think it was anything less than protecting their child.

Be careful who you are calling social services on. When there is obvious serious physical abuse, blatant neglect, and emotional abuse with proof of all the above, it is important to call. Social services have a lot of cases, and these kind of situations can be put on the back burner and never looked into again, but can really fuck up the family even worse just for being investigated.

Janice - posted on 05/24/2012

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I would call on both.
With family #1 they need help. Social services will always work to help a family if possible. They wont just take the kids.

With family 2 if you think the kids are being abused then you must call. How do you know about the hitting?

Jodi - posted on 05/24/2012

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I have called social services in the past (once), while out on a walk a saw a lady smack her little boys head as she yelled at him to get inside. Once inside I could hear her screaming at him, names and mean things and you could hear skin on skin. I called the cops who contacted social services. So yes, I would definately be calling in both of these situations. When it comes to the safety of children, I refuse to stand idly by and watch it happen, there are too many documented cases where neighbors, friends, family only came forward after the child was already dead. If you know it's happening and do nothing, you are no better than the parents neglecting or abusing their child.

Michelle - posted on 05/24/2012

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I would call in both situations neither one is an ideal situation for the kids, the first one needs help and social services will give them the guidance they need to make things right for their kids. The second one is against the law and therefore need to have their kids removed immidiately

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