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am i a 'judas'?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

has anyone else been in a dilemma like this?  last friday afternoon, my partner and i babysat outwith my official hours as a caregiver for a friend whilst she was in a counselling session with her estranged husband. when she came back to pick up her 4 year old daughter she was pretty wound up about the meeting and has a lot of financial worries. my partner walked her to her car which was parked on the driveway and her daughter was belted in. whilst they were talking her daugher unbuckled herself and went behind the front seats. her mum screamed her name, dragged her out by the arm and belted her around the kidneys with a closed fist, then put her in the car, got in and drove off, leaving my partner stunned. he came in and told me and we stewed on what to do all weekend.  on the following monday evening i phoned child youth and family on my partner's  behalf to lodge a concern, because he has suffered major strokes and was so upset by what he saw he actually had a seizure. cyfs wondered why it took us three days to report it but we were torn.  cyfs visited the mother the following day and now me and mine are persona non grata and she is sending a lawyers letter of complaint to my employer "in strong terms" which i no doubt will be copied in on. the father is also a close friend and obviously not happy with her behaviour - cyfs contacted him to let him know whats been going on.   he showed me a letter her lawyer sent his lawyer and she states that it was a light smack within acceptable parameters of discipline.  its a horrible dilemma to be in.  i regret not talking to her about it first, but i am a caregiver and when the girl was in my care during my official caregiver hours, she had been telling me she turns herself into a zombie so her mum doesnt frighten her and said my mummy hits me.  she was playing with a felt book and showed me how she made a room for the girl in the book so that she wouldnt be frightened of her mummy.  a few months ago, she told my supervisor during  a visit to my home that her mummy hits her and i have the support of my employer.  my now ex friend has been in a fragile mental state for some time and mutual friends have also been concerned for her.  i feel she would have denied it to my face so i had to go behind her back in order to prevent more harm to the child but she states in her letter that we should have spoken to her about it first.  she doesnt know what her daughter has been telling us however, and the police officer who visited with the cyfs officer is convinced that it was more than 'a light smack'.  i guess what i am looking for is assurance that the situation was untenable and we couldnt take the soft option in case she carried on beating her child behind closed doors.  the main thing is, she knows deep in her heart she is wrong and cant carry on 'disciplining' her child this way.  what would other people have done?

Edited by Lynne Robertson - 8/28/12 at 2:41am
post #2 of 4
I would have reported it as well. What you describe is clearly not reasonable discipline even if you do consider physical punishment acceptable. That one incident on its own is enough to report let alone what the child has been telling you.

I think it was inevitable that you were going to lose your friend over this but I really don't see any alternative to reporting. And no, I probably would not have discussed it with her first. At most I may have told her after I'd submitted the report but it would depend very much on the specifics of our relationship.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

thank you for reading my post kate.  you get how hard it is.  well, the dynamics of the friendship were strained.  a mutual friend on facebook had implied that i didnt have the guts to speak to her first about the matter but i had already spoken my mind to the mother regarding her attitude towards her estranged husband and her personal life post separation if you get what i mean and had experienced her general attitude towards myself and others trying to give advice and from that perspective i know that she is not a person to admit fault.  i felt the child's safety was best ensured if social workers became involved and monitored the family.  if anyone else reading this thread is in a similiar situation, trust your instincts.  i'm still grieving for the loss of a friend, but i feel that a child might now feel less frightened of her own mother and that helps me sleep at night.  best wishes to you, kate

post #4 of 4
I think what the person who told you you didn't have the guts to confront her is failing to understand is that you have the guts to protect a child who doesn't have voice in this situation. If you had spoken to the mother you would have been putting her first but she is an adult who has lots of resources and alternatives and freedoms which a child does not. That's why we, as adults, have to protect and support children and that's what you did.

Thank you for your good wishes. The same to you. And I hope you find peace with the whole situation soon.

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