Is this considered abuse/neglect?

Shannon - posted on 04/21/2010 ( 204 moms have responded )

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My stepson's mother smokes in her home and car even with her child. He's 4 and has severe asthma! He has at least 5 asthma attacks a month. Mostly because she smokes around him. He has been coughing so bad (since last night when he got here from her house) it's to the point where he's vomiting because he's coughing so hard. I have to use his inhaler and breathing treatments every 2-4 hours because he just keeps having attacks. His mother told us that his doctor said cigarette smoke has no affect on his asthma! Well we called his doctor just to make sure cause that sounds ridiculous! The doctor laughed and said there is no way we would EVER tell anyone cigarette smoke has no affect on asthma, thats the number 1 reason for attacks.

Is this abuse/neglect? And if so, what should I do?

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204 Comments

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Durenda - posted on 04/23/2010

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I would report it b/c it is dangerous to the child (asthma) it only takes 1 attack to end a life, if she is not willing to see that then she doesn't need a child. Also the can prove that she does the can pull nicotine out of clothes and the car.

Tonya - posted on 04/23/2010

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That is sick and so selfish!! How could someone do something that they know is endangering their child? I'm sure you can report this to someone!

Otte - posted on 04/23/2010

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hello jou stiefma is verkeerd dis n groot no no ek en my seuntjie het asma en ek kan net n bietjie sigaret rook ruik of in n plek gaan waar iemand gerook het, al is die persoon nie meer besig om te rook nie , al ruik dit net na rook , dan kry ek n asma aanval. en dit gebeur baie met my ook . Rook is n groot oorsaak van asma aanvalle een van die grootste oorsake.(enige rook ). Nee sy sal moet mooi dink oor haar gerookery dit doen groot skade aan daai kind se longe en gesondheid as hy so aanmekaar asma aanvalle kry, en op die ou end kan dit sy dood veroorsaak.Ek het erger asma as my kind, maar ek sorg dat niemand in my huis rook nie.EK weet nie wat jy gaan doen nie maar ek voel baie bekommerd vir jou part .Sterkte

Tahnia - posted on 04/23/2010

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Yes it is neglect. It is putting her needs before her childs. If you are going to do something about it then I would suggest that you let her Father handle it. It will not go over very well coming from you. I don't know how much time he spends with his Dad but if his Mum has most of the care she may be finding things hard going (no excuse for the smoking around him). Try and come at it from a helpful position, how can you make things easier (perhaps she smokes so much due to stress). She may have lied about what the Doctor said because she feels quilty about it. You need to try and understand why she does it and try and help her to stop doing it around her son. But again I urge you to let his Dad sort it out.

Sammie - posted on 04/22/2010

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Also in Australia now i think its actually came through if your caught smoking in the care with anyone under 16 you get an on the spot fine..of like 300-400 dollars,

Stephanie - posted on 04/22/2010

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again smoking in cars is illegal in many countries. Check with you locally authorities. Other then an actual intervention, to stop her smoking with the full support of everyone in the family DOCs or CPS are unfortunately not going to be interested. If you could I would try to talk to her doctor about her addiction

Amanda - posted on 04/22/2010

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It is illegal to smoke in a car with a minor in the state of California. The police, however, cannot pull you over for that reason. If they pull you over for another offence, they can give you additional citation for smoking in the car with a minor (under the age of 18).

Jessie - posted on 04/22/2010

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I don't know if it is the same in every state. But I know here in Indiana, it is now illegal to smoke in the car when there is a child that is under the age of ten in the vehicle as well.

Patricia - posted on 04/22/2010

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She is willingly putting the child at risk, it would be like feeding a diabetic child sugar!!! I don't know where you live, but in Canada it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under 16 years, to do so is cause to have them taken away.

Jacqueline - posted on 04/22/2010

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Yes its abused because asthma's is a very serious he could die from the cigarette's smoke and his mother has the nerve to say it won't hurt her son. She needs prayers because I have a child that has asthma even the smell triggers his asthma and he is quick to say please don't smoke around me or he start spraying with air fresher to eliminate that odor. To me people smokes around anyone that are non smokers or has asthma is very selfish simply they don't think to ask it alright to smoke or no smoking period around people with these conditions.

Brenda - posted on 04/22/2010

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I think you should contact a social worker or a child advocate of some sort...find out what you need to do to deal with this situation. I believe it is abuse!! i dont understand why people don't or won't believe in the damages of second hand smoke!!!! it is so frustrating.

Good luck!!!

Lou - posted on 04/22/2010

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I believe this is quite selfish and she should be asked to smoke outside of not at all

Marty - posted on 04/22/2010

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In this day and age YES it is considered abuse, especially since your sone already has asthma problems. Talk to an attorney!

Francesca - posted on 04/22/2010

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I think most other ladies have covered it all ... just wanted to say, this situation is *really* sad. I hope you get this woman to see sense- soon!

Iridescent - posted on 04/22/2010

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I'd really like to know exactly what CPS is for, in some of the replies here, based on their opinions.

"its abuse. But i think its a little bit harsh to get the child services involved." This with a health condition proven to kill people every year, in a child that is an unstable asthmatic. How's it different from feeding your severely allergic child peanuts to intentionally cause anaphylactic shock? I guess that's not worth a CPS call, either, according to this reply.

"while something obviously needs to be done, you are NOT the person to do it." "It's not worth it to call Child Protective Services, and, in my opinion, not appropriate. Such an accusation could seriously mess up this woman's life." Somebody has to step up. This is an issue for anyone that sees the act, not just the father. If you see a woman beating her children in a street, would you say the same thing? Or someone whose children are starving to death in front of your eyes? Oh, it's only appropriate for the father to deal with it, and it might mess up her life. Yea, the one to be concerned about here is the abuser...

"In order for an agency like protective services to get involved, you would need written records" False. You need to report it and they investigate it, and they make the written records to be used in court if appropriate. It is their job.

[deleted account]

omg how could she do something like this to her own child, you should report her immediately. Asthma attack can get fatal... do something before its too late.

Candy - posted on 04/22/2010

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I would say this is neglect. I smoke however I do not smoke in the house or allow others to smoke in the house. I do smoke in the van with the windows down. My daughter does not have asthma but if she was that sever I would do my best to keep the smoke as far away from her as possible.

Melissa - posted on 04/22/2010

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The mother lied to you, his doctor denied saying it was not affecting him. This is undeniable ABUSE/NEGLECT, call an attorney asap!!

Michelle - posted on 04/22/2010

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its abuse. But i think its a little bit harsh to get the child services involved. Is she a bad mother in any other way. Its so easy to say that you should report her, but is that fair to the child for him to lose his mother. There definately needs to be an intervention. But by the boys father and maybe even you aswell. His health is the most important thing here. If his dad has joint custody maybe you should organise that the boy live with you. And then he can still see his mother too.

Colleen - posted on 04/22/2010

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I am a smoker myself and I have never ever smoked in front of my son. I always go outside and wouldn't even think of smoking in my car with him in it or not,the smoke and smell stays in there. you should definetly report it that child has a major health problem,she is showing no concern for her childs welfare. She is very selfish and stupid.

Lauryl - posted on 04/22/2010

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I have to agree with Sharron above...It sucks and is horrible that this woman is so addicted that she is willing to put her child's health in danger, but is it legal? That depends on where you live.

And, while something obviously needs to be done, you are NOT the person to do it. I know that is hard to hear, since you obviously care about this child. But this is your stepson's birth mother. It's sad, but trust me: I'm from a divorced family, my stepbrothers are from a divorced family, and my sister is a stepmom to her husband's kids. Your well-intentioned intervention will probably be very poorly received, especially if she's that bull-headed that she's not willing to give up smoking for her kid's health. You may end up making a bad situation worse.

Get your stepson's dad to take action. He is the person who has a legal right and obligation to look after his children's health. He may be able to renegotiate custody if he can prove that she is endangering their son.

It's not worth it to call Child Protective Services, and, in my opinion, not appropriate. Such an accusation could seriously mess up this woman's life. I don't know this woman, but she is not an abuser just because she is smoking in front of her child, even if he is asthmatic. She is just a person who is addicted...people can justify all sorts of bad behavior in service of their addiction. :(

Nancy - posted on 04/22/2010

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I agree with everyone here! It is also against the law in California to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18. There are ads on TV all the time with a smoker in an apartment and it shows the smoke going through the vents and a child coughing and another using an inhaler! She should be ashamed. One thing I know about custody issues is Document! Document! Document!! Keep a journal of every asthma attack, every treatment, every visit to his mom's, every contact with the doctor, every lie she tells and not only would i report it to CPS, but I would consult a custody attorney and make it a court order that she is not to smoke in his presence and get sole custody. This isn't a joke, people die from asthma. My adult brother has emphazema from second hand smoke!! Never smoked a day in his life, but was a professional dancer in Europe where everyone smokes and the clubs are in a smoked out fog and he's breathing hard and dancing and now he's sick from it!! Child endangerment. Good luck!

Carole - posted on 04/22/2010

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I don't know about the legal implications of smoking around a child . . .but I do know that it is morally wrong. Why would a responsible parent choose to allow a child to suffer just so that they are not inconvenienced? If she is irresponsible in her behavior regarding cigarettes? I am sure that there are other areas in which she is negligent as well. However, before you make a stand - be prepared to go all the way and know that you have to be willing to be a fulltime parent. The best step to take would be to try and work with the mother showing her evidence that this behavior is damaging her child. Take the child to the pediatrician and get a written document that shows the direct corolation between her smoking and his attacks. It might also be smart if you took a back seat and let the biological parents battle it out.

Susan - posted on 04/22/2010

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This is a tricky issue. Smoking is legal in the United States. So, although this mother's behavior is probably making your step son's asthma worse, it is doubtful that a single undocumented incident could be used as grounds for a legal case against her.

In order for an agency like protective services to get involved, you would need written records, which clearly demonstrate that the mother's behavior is having a direct and adverse affect on her son's physical health over time. A strongly worded letter from a pediatrician would be a good first step. But, you would need more than that to establish a history of abuse or neglect. If you know the doctor well; you can also ask them to file a report with protetive services. Just be aware that he or she may or may not be willing to get involved. Keep copies of all medical records, especially those doctor visits following visits with the mother. You should also keep a journal, describing any measures you must take to control your step son's asthma at home, following a visit with his mother. If a pattern of can be established, then you may have a case.

Alissa - posted on 04/22/2010

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I believe that is abuse. that poor little one. he is innocent and has no control over it. As his stepmom, you should report her. maybe to child services or to the court. I would absolutely call this physical abuse.

De-anne - posted on 04/22/2010

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Hmmm... I wonder where the mum got her info from about smoke and asthma. The doctor is wrong. I have had chronic asthma for 34 years (since I was five). When I was little Mum had signs posted at our house that it was a no-smoking place. I do know for a fact cigerate smoke affects asthma. I know from experience. A really severe asthma attack could kill (sorry not trying to scare you).

I agree with the other replies. Make a phone call from somewhere, not from home to report. I am sure you can make it anonymous. I know in Australia is is illegial to smoke in cars with kids in it. You can get fined. Good luck Shannon. My heart goes out to the boy. I know what it is like to not be able to breathe with an asthma attack. It is scary. I have had a few bad ones as an adult and it scared me.

Amy - posted on 04/22/2010

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It's abuse. Absolutely, it's abuse. Smoking in a car under the age of 16 should be illegal in every state. You should call CPS and tell what's going on.

MaryLou - posted on 04/22/2010

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Is his doctor a peditrician. If not consult one. Then call Children's Aid and tell them your concerns, and what's happening concerning the child's health. Why isn't the father getting involved, and speaking to the mother? If it continues, the father should file for custody-unless he is unfit. This woman doesn't deserve custody if she is doing this knowing he has asthma.

Ora - posted on 04/22/2010

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Yes this is both abuse and neglect. I am a life long asthmatic. And yes smoking is the cause of many asthma attacks. This stepmon is causing more severe attacks each time she smokes around this child. She seems be be ignoring the fact that one of these attacks can end up killing this precious child. You should probably call Child Protection Agency in your area and report.

Korissa - posted on 04/22/2010

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Yes it is!! In some states smoking around kids is illegal. You should find out if your state is one of them. Also, you (your husband rather) can sue for custody on these grounds. Take him to the Dr. yourselves and make sure you get it all in writing for court. Its EXTREMELY important to do this and get him into a safe enviroment. If she is so selfish and careless in the obvious, what else is she not doing as a mother? You need to get in touch with CPS (and don't warn her) and they will drop in and asses the home. If she does smoke in the home then they should let you take emergancy custody due to his med. condition. Good luck.

[deleted account]

My son was just diagnosed with asthma last week. My husband and I do not smoke. The doctor told us not to even visit the homes of smokers! I think I would take him to the doctor and get confirmation that the smoke is in fact causing all of this. The doctor's report may have more influence over CPS or a judge than you would. I would definitely call CPS and ask their advice.

Kristy - posted on 04/22/2010

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As a smoker (in America) with two girls (grown) and a gradbaby that lives with us I ALWAYS refrained from smoking in the car espeically. When my kids were young I refrained from smoking around them at all (as well as drinking around them - didn't have them fetch my beers either) as for with the grandbaby, we take outside smoke breaks and although she goes with we pay attention to which way the smoke flows and keep it from her. And she doesn't have medical issues especially asthma.
That poor boys mom is just, as someone stated, very selfish and she should have something done however, if in America, I am not sure 1) CPS could do anything legally about her smoking habits or 2) they would have the type of caseload that their involvment would help the child just run the adults through the courts. Either way, I, as a parent/stepparent, would do what I needed to do to get full custody if need be of him to prevent as much damage as possible from this point forward, that's for sure.

[deleted account]

Sorry i forgot to say and don't want to upset or scare you..Asthma is deadly it sounds like this boy has it bad..my neighbour whom i didnt know well but saw her the day before she died...she had asthma for years and took an attack one evening ,she didnt get help in time and her inhaler didnt work she left a few kids which is so sad..so decided what you are going to do and do it:-)wishing all in this situation the very best especially the young child.

[deleted account]

You can call your local CPS and you do not have to leave your name to file a complaint. It sounds like this woman has no compassion for this child. If she doesn't care that she is causing his asthma attacks, which could kill him, what else does she not care about or neglect.

Sure you could talk to her face to face & she will smile & tell you all you want to hear, and then as soon as your out of sight she will light up again.

I'm sure she is dropping the ball in other areas of parenting too. She sounds very selfish.

Andrea - posted on 04/22/2010

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It is illegal in fact I myself have called the police a few times on parents who continue to do this when I am (Canada) and I will keep doing it until they actually learn.
I work with kids especially Child's Aid kids and it just kills me when I hear things like this.
The kids under 16 need us to stand up for them and we need to make sure that we (and them) are being heard

Nicole - posted on 04/22/2010

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This is a sensitive issue and I think that you should try to keep the law out of it as long as possible. I suggest getting a referal to an Allergy and Asthma specialist who can confirm that the child's issue is in fact the smoke. Although my parents didn't smoke, I had terrible asthma attacks, which were because of the ungodly ammount of mold in our home. I could assume that the smoke plays a large role, but a doctor's note and something in his medical record should be done.



If after that she doesn't comply, then I would take it a step further and involve the court. I can't belive that she doesn't love her child enough to stop smoking in the home, but is just stubborn and denies that she is hurting her child. You are on a fine line because you are the step-mom and using the law to defend your child can be just as harmful to the emotional development of the child as smoking is to his physical health.

Linda - posted on 04/22/2010

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Depends on where you live! If you live in Ontario then you should already know that it is against the law to smoke in your car with anyone under the age of 18 in the vehicle. With respect to the rest you can call Family and Children Services and talk to an intake worker. All calls and visits are confidential and your name is not disclosed.

Shannon - posted on 04/22/2010

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HI Shannon, I would say yes it is abuse and neglect. She knowingly harms herself (many do) but her child shouldn't have to phyusically suffer. If his health becomes worse I would get a lawyer and have visitation monitored. I'm not sure of the arrangements but to be 4 yrs old and that sick it's quit obvious he should not be allowed arround her while smoking. I don't smoke but my 5 yr old had a sever attack at 3 that ended her up in the hospitol inder and oxygen tent for 2 days! I was scared to death for her. I commenrd you for helping him but I would seriously look at the situation closely and look into getting outside help before he ends up hospitolized.

Liz - posted on 04/22/2010

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Report her, it is abuse, it is common sense that anything that is based on chemicals it is bad for our health, specially a child with respiratory problems. She is thinking of her needs not of the child.

Toni - posted on 04/22/2010

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As a former officer and advocate depending on the state you are in you can try to have child protective services involved, especially since there is obviously doctor's orders, I think at the least she would be warned. Please check with your local CPS office and/or prosecutor. I have seen children actually die because of this. My daughter as well had asthma as a child and smoking is THE WORST thing you can do around them. Please follow through. You may go through a lot of harrasment but keep this beautiful child in mind and try holding your breath as long as you can to see what it feels like if you start to weaken under the pressure. You are awesome for caring. God speed!

Lizanka - posted on 04/22/2010

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The first step needed to be taken is to have an honest, non judgmental, friendly talk with the lil ones mother. Both you and your husband must be clear explaining that you are very concern about the child’s health and like to avoid any more damage to this situation. Perhaps if you approached this in a supportive way she will be more open to stop this negative practice, not only for her own child’s well being but also for her own health…

Heidi - posted on 04/22/2010

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Wish we lived in TN instead of TX...We haven't seen my husbands kids in over a yr since we took her to court last.

Ashley - posted on 04/22/2010

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I also live in canada and like the rest said its against the law here to smoke in a care when their is someone under the age of 16 in it.. some places are trying to make it that way as well in parks near playgrounds. if she knows that he is like this she shouldnt be doing it ... and to lie about what a doctor said is jsut wrong .. does your husband still have a lawyer because if so i would talk to them and see where you guys can stand I would take away her rights that she can only have him at some place where she cant smoke

[deleted account]

Absolutely, and in some states what she is doing is illegal (smoking in the car with a minor.) I would definately report her to CPS. They won't take her son away but they will definately put her on notice. My daughter has severe asthma as well and this makes me incredibly angry. She is putting her sons life in jeopardy!!

Lori - posted on 04/22/2010

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That is not always true Heidi, you must live in a state that has issues, because in TN they will take the kid single mom or not. my step-daughter had the same problem as this boy and her maternal grandmother took the mom to court and was granted full custody with visitation to the dad so sometimes the courts will help its worth trying

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