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#1 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I say neglected only because that's my opinion, I so don't want to sound judgemental here but I NEED advice!!!

We live in a ruralish area, we actually live in the county seat of a rural area. Our specific neighborhood is tucked between a large church, that boasts an attractive playground and our kid's K-12 School building, which of course has another attractive playground. There are only 5 streets in our little sub of small 1950's cape cods, very working class, very tight knit. On the other side of the church is a busy 2 lane highway. Hard to get to on foot and no roads that directly tie the highway into our sub but it's there...The road our sub is off of is a two lane road as well and while the speed limit is only 35 mph, it's still busy.

Over the summer, a family moved in about three streets away. The mom has four kids and I think her boyfriend lives with them. The kids are boys who are 14 and 11, a five year old girl and a 3-4 year old boy. My oldest dd is friends with the oldest boy. The mom works and over the summer the littlest boy would often show up at our house, with no shoes, and if he couldn't play at our house, he'd go on to the school to play, we live on the last street before the school. The neighborhood kids all cut through our yards to get to the school, which is fine, so he wasn't ever out on any main roads but still...
I thought it was because mom was at work and the kids weren't watching him closely enough.

Since school's been back in session, he's shown up at our home several times and about 30 minutes later mom comes looking for him because he left without her knowledge. Last time it was 10:30 in the morning and she was in her nightgown and said he left while she was sleeping!!! She seems nice enough but a) doesn't know a thing about me, and she was fine to let him play at our house, she's met my older kids but still...and b)he never has shoes on!!!

I'm back at work and we have a sitter than comes to our home. I relieve her at 12:15 and take my son to preschool at 12:30. When I came to get Chase at lunch today, the sitter said a little blonde boy came over with no shoes on and asked to come in. I explained briefly and said she too had seen him alone over by her house, which is over by the church. About five minutes later we were loading into the car to go to preschool and here comes two middle school kids (who had been outside for gym class in the grassy area behind out property) with the little neighbor boy. I asked if he had been at the school and they said yes and I asked if they knew where he lived and they said yes so I went on to the school to take my son to class.

I don't know what to do. I know my oldest daughter has seen the father of the two youngest children at their home arguing with the mom over the kids in the past. I don't think she would respond well to my talking to her about it. I just have that impression. I've tried hard to be friendly and she's nice but not very receptive. My husband has wanted me to call CPS since about mid summer. He's just always alone! I love our neighborhood and I know all the kids look out for each other, and him but anything could happen, you just never know. I wish the school had called the cops and said a kid had wandered over there today! It's not really helpful to just take him home over and over.

So, any ideas or suggestions???
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#2 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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Honestly, in this case I think I might call CPS. Just so the mom gets a loud and clear message that this is just not right.

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#3 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:01 PM
 
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i like the CPS suggestion. obviously he is not being watched. obviously he is too young to be wandering all over, esp with no shoes! i think you should call. if anything, a visit from CPS will get the mom to keep a better eye on him.

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#4 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:14 PM
 
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The shoe thing, to me, is no big deal. It is not always indicative of neglect and is actually good for growing kids. There are many groups of people who intentionally go barefoot as often as possible. That does not sound cps worthy to me. Now him all over the place at odd hours is concerning and I would talk to the mom about that before calling CPS. Just letting her know that you are not always available or maybe offer to give her some baby proofing things (which she may have and he is just able to get through). If she seems confused be honest about your concern over his safety. If shes not receptive, then shes not. Then take the next big step.

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#5 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:17 PM
 
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I'd say that you need to go with your gut on this...

I have small kids. I've slept in until 10:30 in the morning. Our second DD wandered across the road to the park when she was 20 months old. Our kids would rather not wear shoes, or clothes for that matter. And often, by the time people get to kid number 4 they're running a pretty relaxed household. If the vibe is that this family really needs help though, you should call CPS.

Has your DD said anything to their older boy about his brother roaming so far? Have you talked to the little boy about why he wonders so much? If he's allowed to be wondering?

Aside from the shoes, does he seem uncared for? Is he showing up hungry? Is he beyond regular kid dirty?

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#6 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As someone who is frantically ebaying clothes to fund pedipeds, I totally feel you on the shoe issue. I hate to talk about a little kid but he's dirty and honestly, it's not safe to be running all over the neighborhood with no shoes. There are several new homes going in down the street, I've had two flats in the last year, I'm only worried about injuries...

Thanks for the baby proofing idea, I'm going to stop on the way home and buy some of the door handle things, maybe that will help. She has said she told him to stay in the yard and he leaves...
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#7 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd say that you need to go with your gut on this...

I have small kids. I've slept in until 10:30 in the morning. Our second DD wandered across the road to the park when she was 20 months old. Our kids would rather not wear shoes, or clothes for that matter. And often, by the time people get to kid number 4 they're running a pretty relaxed household. If the vibe is that this family really needs help though, you should call CPS.

Has your DD said anything to their older boy about his brother roaming so far? Have you talked to the little boy about why he wonders so much? If he's allowed to be wondering?

Aside from the shoes, does he seem uncared for? Is he showing up hungry? Is he beyond regular kid dirty?

I agree, I also have four kids and a big split in their ages so I am more relaxed than I was when my girls were little but they still have to bathe, and this little guy is what I would consider beyond regular kid dirty.

To me it's just really borderline. My dd has talked to his brother, he seems to try to take care of him too but he's a 14 year old boy in a new school, he's got a life too. I just don't get it. I honestly wonder if there's a substance abuse issue because she seems to really care for all the kids and seems to want to take care of them, just doens't seem to be getting it done. If it had happened two or three times, I might think less about it but it happens a minimum of once a week. Not necessarily him coming to our house, sometimes he ends up at one of the parks and someone goes looking for him.

I've tried to talk to the little guy but I don't even think he's quite four. I always ask him if his mom knows where he is when he comes over and he says yes. He's also asked my 13 yo to have sex with him, but almost four year olds can say things they have overheard without really knowing what they mean...
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#8 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 05:57 PM
 
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I've tried to talk to the little guy but I don't even think he's quite four. I always ask him if his mom knows where he is when he comes over and he says yes. He's also asked my 13 yo to have sex with him, but almost four year olds can say things they have overheard without really knowing what they mean...
Okay, that last sentence really jumped out at me. I'm a social worker, and thus a mandated reporter. And if I had a situation like that, I'd have big red flags up.

You're absolutely right that four year olds can repeat things they overhear without knowing what they mean, but the problem is determining whether it really is that. And that's not easy to do unless you know what to look for and what kind of follow up questions to ask.

I hate to jump too quickly to "Call CPS" but between the mention of concern about a substance abuse issue, asking your 13 year old to have sex, and the lack of supervision, unless you're in a position to figure out that the children really aren't in danger (and it doesn't sound like you are) then it may be a good time to say "this is beyond my scope of knowledge, I need to ask someone who knows how to deal with it."
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#9 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 09:09 PM
 
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Definitely call CPS. This child is chronicly unwashed and unsupervised. Mother is not responsive. All of that together is CPS worthy.
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#10 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 09:23 PM
 
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I would call CPS. You don't have to know what exactly isn't right in a situation to call-- it's CPS's job to figure out what is going on in the home that's resulting in an unkempt 3-4 yo roaming the streets without shoes. And, I have to agree, the comment about asking your 13 yo to have sex is a red flag-- it could just be something he heard, or it could mean something more. Again, I would call CPS and let them investigate.
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#11 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 10:28 PM
 
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I agree that a call to CPS is needed. The only other thing that I could think of if you are really reluctant to do that, is one day when he is playing at the school alone, call the police and report an unattended preschooler at the middle school.

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#12 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 10:40 PM
 
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Do you not have her phone number? Maybe if you are a real PITA about calling her whenever you see him she will make more of an effort. I wouldn't just let him in to play without calling her. I also wouldn't take him home ... that's her job.
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#13 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 10:52 PM
 
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I would call CPS.
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#14 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 10:57 PM
 
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Could you try a firendly scare tactic? Like, "It's great how the kids look out for each oter here, but did you hear about that [convicted felon, unleashed dog, whatever] that wanders around sometimes?" Or something....maybe that's not the brightest idea....bt something to let her know that it's not safe. W had a little girl last year at my job who was the 2nd child out of 5...her older sister was 8, she was 7 and then there were three under four. she and two of the ones under her had special needs. So when she showed up dirty, with uncombed hair, clothing that didn't fit or wasn't appropriate, we just dealt with it. we assumed mom was overwhelmed. we reserved phone calls home for serious things, like the kids standing unsupervised at the bus stop a ways from the home. all in the same vein....."we know her sister is watching her, but we're worried xyz might happen to her."

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#15 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 11:16 PM
 
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Well, the shoe thing doesn't worry me at all, and I don't think that's really an indicator of neglect anyway. I got barefoot purposely a lot (even when I probably shouldn't!) and my kids to do. Although I personally wouldn't do this, I know that some parents adopt a "let them learn" approach to wearing shoes. In other words, you don't wear shoes, your feet get cut, so you'll learn to wear them. Again, not something I would do, but I don't find it necessarily neglectful unless you live in an area were finding sharp objects littering the ground is an everyday occurrence.


As far as finding the child alone several times a day-that would concern me. Once or twice or even a few times a week, I would understand that. Some kids are *extremely* curious and mischievous and just take off. I have a friend whose son just took off on her in the the late evening and ended up at our apartment complexes' leasing office. Unfortunately for her the police and CPS were called, although she didn't do anything wrong really; she was out looking for him as she should have been. However, if it is happening constantly and the mother doesn't seem particularly concerned for her son's safety, then alarm bells would be going off in my head. Maybe she just needs a wake-up call? Whatever the reason, I think that someone needs to be called because this boy could put himself in real danger,

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#16 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 11:25 PM
 
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I personally would start making a record of it. Write down the times and what the child was wearing (barefoot is not good but as it gets colder - see if they are dressing him weather appropriate). Then I would find your local Department of Family and Protective Services. I would go in and take them the information you have on the family and let them do their investigation.
That is the best way. You can still be anonymous but showing up in person, I feel, would make them act quicker because they can see the record in their hands.
I have a 4.5 year old and I wont even let her sit on the front porch by herself much less walk down the street! And we are in a relativly safe neighborhood too!

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#17 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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Okay, that last sentence really jumped out at me. I'm a social worker, and thus a mandated reporter. And if I had a situation like that, I'd have big red flags up.

You're absolutely right that four year olds can repeat things they overhear without knowing what they mean, but the problem is determining whether it really is that. And that's not easy to do unless you know what to look for and what kind of follow up questions to ask.

I hate to jump too quickly to "Call CPS" but between the mention of concern about a substance abuse issue, asking your 13 year old to have sex, and the lack of supervision, unless you're in a position to figure out that the children really aren't in danger (and it doesn't sound like you are) then it may be a good time to say "this is beyond my scope of knowledge, I need to ask someone who knows how to deal with it."
I have to agree with Erica - Im not a social worker but I have adopted through CPS (therefore had some training for fostering) and have been an EMT. If a child says something like that it needs to be followed up on. And make sure YOU do not ask further questions about the sex thing either. You may just be trying to get more info but if things are asked wrongly it could have him saying things that he doesnt mean. Leave it to the professionals!
You are a great neighborhood mother to be concerned and you are doing nothing wrong by reporting. I know there is that slight hesitation of feeling guilty but you are now that child's advocate! (((hugs))) mama

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#18 of 86 Old 09-25-2008, 11:51 PM
 
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He's also asked my 13 yo to have sex with him, but almost four year olds can say things they have overheard without really knowing what they mean...
if the kid saying hadnt bothered you, you wouldnt have thought to tell us about it. that means your gut is telling you something is wrong.

call CPS. they will go over and check it out. if something bad was going on and you didnt call even though you had seen the red flags, you would feel real bad. if you call and it is nothing, then you will have peace of mind. trust your gut.

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#19 of 86 Old 09-26-2008, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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if the kid saying hadn't bothered you, you wouldn't have thought to tell us about it. that means your gut is telling you something is wrong.

call CPS. they will go over and check it out. if something bad was going on and you didn't call even though you had seen the red flags, you would feel real bad. if you call and it is nothing, then you will have peace of mind. trust your gut.

You are right...I am so struggling with this but my gut is screaming that something is not right...

I work with and sit on committees with many of the local agencies, including DHS (cps here in MI) workers. I'm a home visitor, I've had all of the training too, but I am not a mandated reporter. In fact, if she were a client, I'd have to go through a whole process to have it reported. That's supposed to help keep the home visiting programs "user friendly".

Several years ago I ended up testifying against a friend/neighbor (we've since moved) who'd begun using drugs. She lost custody and the judge cited my testimony as being the deciding factor. Everything I said was factual but I still helped take a little girl away from her mommy and yeah, that gets to me. The reason I mentioned suspecting substance abuse in this case is the similarities I see. Mom obviously loves the kids by the way she talks but can't provide basic care and seems to be pretending that's not the case. She always asks me if had shoes on when he came, he NEVER wears shoes! I once took him home en route to the park to get shoes and he couldn't even find a matching pair!

Mom works at a local chain restaurant. Not fast food but not anything high end either. I know what their rent is and I would guess she's got to already have a case worker unless she gets great child support.

One of the reasons I'm hesitant is that I know a lot of the foster system in our area and they may just be better off at home. No offense to anyone here who fosters, there are some amazing people in this world who do wonderful things with kids who need them. Unfortunately there are also those who see it as a paycheck.

I don't really feel like I have a choice. Thanks for everyone's opinions. I just hate to feel like I am judging someone. I kept telling myself she just has a different approach than I do, but he's not safe, and neither is the 5 year old little girl. I'm with the mama who doesn't let the 4 1/2 yo sit on the porch alone. Our back yard is fenced and our almost 4 yo ds can't even go out there alone. He may not be able to wander off but he could still get hurt...or stung by a bee...or bitten by a squirell... I JUST started letting my 13 yo go to the football games at the school by herself, and you can see the field, and the score, from our backyard!
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#20 of 86 Old 09-26-2008, 01:02 AM
 
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It's the wandering that bothers me.
I'd tell her that, if the cops drive by and see him, she could get in trouble and have CPS called on her. Try to say it in a friendly way. See if that gets the message home that this is really a Big Deal.
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#21 of 86 Old 09-26-2008, 08:42 AM
 
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With all that new info, I agree with everyone else.

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#22 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 01:22 AM
 
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Tell the mother that you are worried about him. Honestly being dirty and not wearing shoes is not abuse. Wandering around is dangerous but she does come looking for him. I personally would talk to her before I would report her. At least give her a warning or something.
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#23 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 01:45 AM
 
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I'd call CPS.

I say that as a mother, who had to go looking for her shoeless 4 year old today!

Three things that stand out:
1. He's often unsupervised and he's beyond normal kid dirty.
2. His older brother "tries to take care of him" - suggesting that he is needing to take on more responsibility than he can handle.
3. He asked your 13 yo to have sex. That might just be a phrase he picked up from watching inappropriate TV. Or it might be more.

Are you judging if you call CPS? Are you perhaps doing something so that the kids in the family will be safe? CPS doesn't automatically = foster placement.

Does the family need help?

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#24 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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wow, I have a 4 year old boy and even though we are a pretty relaxed family, I wouldn't let him wander around ALONE. Maybe with his sisters with him, but not alone. I don't like to call CPS On every little thing but maybe you need to have it checked out.
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#25 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 04:52 AM
 
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Ok, I say neglected only because that's my opinion, I so don't want to sound judgemental here but I NEED advice!!!

We live in a ruralish area, we actually live in the county seat of a rural area. Our specific neighborhood is tucked between a large church, that boasts an attractive playground and our kid's K-12 School building, which of course has another attractive playground. There are only 5 streets in our little sub of small 1950's cape cods, very working class, very tight knit. On the other side of the church is a busy 2 lane highway. Hard to get to on foot and no roads that directly tie the highway into our sub but it's there...The road our sub is off of is a two lane road as well and while the speed limit is only 35 mph, it's still busy.

Over the summer, a family moved in about three streets away. The mom has four kids and I think her boyfriend lives with them. The kids are boys who are 14 and 11, a five year old girl and a 3-4 year old boy. My oldest dd is friends with the oldest boy. The mom works and over the summer the littlest boy would often show up at our house, with no shoes, and if he couldn't play at our house, he'd go on to the school to play, we live on the last street before the school. The neighborhood kids all cut through our yards to get to the school, which is fine, so he wasn't ever out on any main roads but still...
I thought it was because mom was at work and the kids weren't watching him closely enough.

Since school's been back in session, he's shown up at our home several times and about 30 minutes later mom comes looking for him because he left without her knowledge. Last time it was 10:30 in the morning and she was in her nightgown and said he left while she was sleeping!!! She seems nice enough but a) doesn't know a thing about me, and she was fine to let him play at our house, she's met my older kids but still...and b)he never has shoes on!!!

I'm back at work and we have a sitter than comes to our home. I relieve her at 12:15 and take my son to preschool at 12:30. When I came to get Chase at lunch today, the sitter said a little blonde boy came over with no shoes on and asked to come in. I explained briefly and said she too had seen him alone over by her house, which is over by the church. About five minutes later we were loading into the car to go to preschool and here comes two middle school kids (who had been outside for gym class in the grassy area behind out property) with the little neighbor boy. I asked if he had been at the school and they said yes and I asked if they knew where he lived and they said yes so I went on to the school to take my son to class.

I don't know what to do. I know my oldest daughter has seen the father of the two youngest children at their home arguing with the mom over the kids in the past. I don't think she would respond well to my talking to her about it. I just have that impression. I've tried hard to be friendly and she's nice but not very receptive. My husband has wanted me to call CPS since about mid summer. He's just always alone! I love our neighborhood and I know all the kids look out for each other, and him but anything could happen, you just never know. I wish the school had called the cops and said a kid had wandered over there today! It's not really helpful to just take him home over and over.

So, any ideas or suggestions???



I'd call CPS but please, if you must do that, be very careful, as this agency is not all there. As a matter of fact, they are very corrupt. See my thread at http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=974296 for more insight on how they ruined my life and others. Then, the decision is yours after you've got all the information you need.

I'd really hate for this little one to be traumatised. Children really don't have insured protection, and my heart breaks.

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#26 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 04:55 AM
 
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The shoe thing, to me, is no big deal. It is not always indicative of neglect and is actually good for growing kids. There are many groups of people who intentionally go barefoot as often as possible. That does not sound cps worthy to me. Now him all over the place at odd hours is concerning and I would talk to the mom about that before calling CPS. Just letting her know that you are not always available or maybe offer to give her some baby proofing things (which she may have and he is just able to get through). If she seems confused be honest about your concern over his safety. If shes not receptive, then shes not. Then take the next big step.



I agree totally.

Yes, definitely definitely definitely do not, under any circumstance call because of the shoes factor. I live in the country and almost refuse to wear shoes a lot of the time unless the situation should call for it. Before I worked for myself, I even went to work barefoot. Think about that, please. As for the other thing, I'd be a bit worried.

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#27 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 05:01 AM
 
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I would call CPS. You don't have to know what exactly isn't right in a situation to call-- it's CPS's job to figure out what is going on in the home that's resulting in an unkempt 3-4 yo roaming the streets without shoes. And, I have to agree, the comment about asking your 13 yo to have sex is a red flag-- it could just be something he heard, or it could mean something more. Again, I would call CPS and let them investigate.


Yes, you could call, and the sad thing is, he'd get three to four times the sexual abuse in foster care. Believe me, about five of my friends could share that with you. I've heard heart-wrenching stories from them that would keep me awake for the rest of my life if it wasn't for my faith in Jehovah God. As I said, children aren't guaranteed the protection they deserve, and that is sad. Unless you have private arrangements to get custody of a child who is being abused, be skeptical. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

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#28 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 05:46 AM
 
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the sexual comment really sends up some flags and I don't think a child that young should ever be left unwatched.
So my thinking is if you don't see the court system or child protection as being a good answer is there another way to get help for this family?
The mother is probably overwhelmed and may need some help and some guidance. Are you sure that the child protection people would just remove children from the home? Is it possible they might get a social worker and counseling,find daycare for the child?
I am a poor single mom and the state helped pay for childcare for my kids so I am wondering if this little guy could be in preschool rather than unwatched.
I think she either needs a church or social services involved in her life, if calling the cops is the only way to do that I'd call. If there are other ways of finding resources for this woman perhaps go that route.
Also have you asked this 3-4 year old why he is wondering around with out supervision. If you say "who is suppose to watching you?" he may give you an answer that helps. Like perhaps "my dad but he's passed out or my brothers but they took off" you could gauge the seriousness of the situation
I think I'd call the authorities myself however.
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#29 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 10:06 AM
 
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and the sad thing is, he'd get three to four times the sexual abuse in foster care.
This is not true in everycase. It does happen - yes. I wont deny that - but we were foster parents and we have never done anything like that. Neither has the other 40 foster parents in our group. I know 3 people who went through foster care and thought it was the best thing because they finally had parents to DOTE over them. Making sure they had winter coats that went down to their wrists instead of 3/4 sleeves. Making sure they had books to read etc.
While bad stuff DOES occasionally happen in fostercare (which is absolutly horrible and disgusting and not nearly enough of them get prosecuted), its not the rule.

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#30 of 86 Old 09-29-2008, 11:36 AM
 
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Is there a local preschool you could suggest to her?

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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