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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just found out that the next door neighbours little boy (he's two years old, just a few months younger than my own ds) fell from the top of the stairs to the bottom of them today and has been taken to the hospital because he developed an enormous bump on his forehead after the fall. I know that they have no carpet on their stairs, so his fall was made worse. At the time of the fall, only his Grandmother was in the house with him and I have to ask.... where the hell was she when he was climbing those stairs? They have never had stair-gates fitted in any place of their house, so this has been an accident waiting to happen. Apparently a family friend visited the house a few months back to find the little boy half way up the stairs by himself then, while the Grandmother was sitting in the living room watching TV. Oh my goodness.

The situation within the house isn't the easiest. The Mother of the two year old boy is 16 years old and has just given birth to her second baby a few months ago. She fell pregnant with the first when she was 13 years old.

Apparently, the social services have been involved since she had her first child. Not that it is having any effect at all. The eldest boy (who had the fall today) is jealous of the new arrival and has shown violent tendencies towards the new baby. To punish him, he is shut in his bedroom alone, where he screams from up to 30 minutes to an hour, and makes coughing and choking sounds as he works himself up into a state.

We have tried, in a subtle way to convey alternative methods of dealing with the jealousy problem and given other advice about parenting... but it is ignored. I am very concerned about the physical and emotional well being of these two children and I'm considering taking action by contacting the Social Services myself. But I fear making a bad situation worse. Advice needed.
 

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Not excusing what happened, but my 2 yo is not supervised on the stairs any longer. He is 2.5 though, and has no problems with them whatsoever, goes up and down at his own will and we haven't used the gates since before he was 2. He could of course fall down them, as could I for that matter. I don't feel neglectful at all. This family of course could be different, who knows?
 

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her age aside...i would say that unfortunately, falling down the stairs can happen accidentally. We are extremely observant, and only about 6 weeks ago, i was in the shower....daddy watching kids, yep, you guessed it, 1 yr old fell down the stairs.

If he has never been blocked from the stairs, chances are he has been practicing "climbing" the stairs for a long time. My dd was a pro at stairs by the time she was 14 months old.

I hate the fact that you;re worried, i really do understand. But maybe it really was just an accident...?
 

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um...i hear what you're saying, but like pp, my 18mo ds is not supervised on the stairs. he has proven himself capable of going up and down. he does fall sometimes and i would hope no one would call cps on me because of it. in fact, I MYSELF fell down the stairs yesterday. maybe i need a gate
 

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We, too, have uncarpeted steps in our home and have not blocked them since we moved in, when DS was 16 mos. He learned to climb up and down safely and with supervision, and he listened when we said he couldn't go up or down alone. Around 20 mos. or so, he was a pro and now (he's 2.5) he is able and allowed to climb and descend without supervision. Just last week, while carrying him down, *I* fell down the bottom three and both of us had some small injuries. It was an accident. I believe that it's safer for a child to learn stairs safely than to barricade--usually by the time they are older toddlers,
children will just try to climb the gates, creating a bigger safety issue.

The other issues--inexperienced mother, shutting a two-year-old into a bedroom for punishment, jealousy of a younger sibling--all these I can understand, and I empathize with the trial of having neighbors with questionable parenting skills! I hope that things will improve. Can you share reading materials about adjusting to a younger sibling? Even buying the child a picture book as a gift may help?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Imogen
Apparently, the social services have been involved since she had her first child. Not that it is having any effect at all.
I am very concerned about the physical and emotional well being of these two children and I'm considering taking action by contacting the Social Services myself. But I fear making a bad situation worse. Advice needed.
Okay, 1.
it SUCKS to feel for children and not be able to DO anything about it. 2. If social services is already involved and "not having any effect at all" what are you expecting/looking to have happen if you call them? 3. How would you calling social services make the situation worse?

And just a few general comments--I hope that by mentioning it that you actually know for SURE that the little boy is being shut in his room and screaming/choking like that on his own. How do we REALLY know what is going on if we aren't in there?
I think that it's good you care about these children and are concerned for their welfare. It's a sad fact, but many many children don't have very great lives--and social services is probably doing the best that it can with this mom (who is probably also doing the best that she is able to right now). Also, there's a huge jump between less than optimal care, slightly negligent care, and abuse. I don't know what social services does (or even can do) when things aren't out and out abuse, kwim?
Maybe do some more thinking about how you would like to see this situation be handled and then figure out what can be done to make that happen?
 

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Of course you're concerned and ditto that it's hard to watch things happen and feel helpless about them. My mom works for social services on the east coast. If they're already involved with the family and the boy went to the hospital, then I'm sure social services has been informed. However, if it will help ease your mind, there's no harm in contacting them. I doubt you'll tell them much they don't already know, but it never hurts to err on the side of caution where a child's safety is concerned. Don't expect them to tell you anything about their involvement with the family - for confidentiality reasons. They should also keep confidential anything you say to them about the family, so the mother will never know you said anything.

Depending on how much you want to get involved, maybe you can support them just by offering to do some child care once in a while, taking over cookies or a meal, inviting them to dinner, just offering social support. The 16 y-o probably needs a role model for how to "mother" and you can maybe do more just by offering positive social contact. (Not that you want to offend the grandmother, or whoever is doing the child care most of the time, ya know?) I'd bet being 16 and a mother of 2 is really lonely. It's hard to imagine, since I haddn't even had my first kiss when I was 16!!!


Trust your instincts about what you want to do.

Betzi
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We know that the boy is being locked in his room alone because his bedroom is joined onto our back bedroom, the walls are thin and we can hear him screaming for either his Mum or Nana.

There are other areas of concern too. But it's 5.05am and I have to get ready to leave for work soon, so hopefully I'll be back later after work
 

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Just wanted to agree with other posters about stairs without gates--that's our situation, too. And it's also true that my daughter's first few independent stair climbs happened when I was nearby but not with her (taking laundry from the dryer, otherwise distracted, etc.) and I eventually saw her partway up the stairs, or heard her in the room above me.

In general, my comfort level with it sort of developed organically. I took cues from her ability and her tendency to be conservative, demonstrated that I trusted her competence and expected her to do well, and have tried to support her to learn and reach mastery. But I didn't gate the stairs, and I've been more or less purposefully laid-back about it. Increasingly moreso as she's gotten older. (She'll be 2.5 next month.)

Now the overall situation you're describing sounds like reason for concern. At least it sounds like a less-than-ideal dynamic. Are there ways you could reach out in a supportive way, as Harry's Mom mentioned?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
AmyC,

Yes, you're right. There are other areas of concern that are being raised regarding this family. Which I will address in a few minutes.

However, allow me to respond to the issue of the stairgate first though. My best friend never had a stairgate with her children, quite simply because the design of her stairs couldn't accomodate any. But her stairs thankfully, were not steep and were also quite wide individually, much easier for a toddler to navigate. In the houses that I and my neighbour live in, the stairs are very steep and not individually wide, they are not easy to navigate. And the majority of them, turn corners at the last few steps, so near the bottom, there is a wall, which is what the little boy next door hit with his head. Had he fell differently, there is a possibility that he could have snapped his neck. Although my own son shows no problems climbing them, he is still unsteady at times when climbing down them, which is why, at the age of 2.5 he still has stairgates there to prevent him from climbing them alone. My post about the stairgate wasn't a criticism of any parent that didn't have them, when I made the post, the design of our stairs (and the neighbours stairs) and the danger that they pose to unsupervised children is what I was concerned about.

But back to the family, I have seen the eldest boy (the one who fell down the stairs) being hit.

There is also the issue of him being locked in his room alone for long periods of time.

And the house is often dirty.. now before anyone jumps on me about an untidy house when having children, allow me to clarify what I mean by dirty. Their tiolet was so caked in feaces, a family friend had to take a screwdriver to the feaces to scrap it off. USED sanitory protection and bloodied underwear is often left laying around on bedroom floors. This is what I mean by dirty.

Not only are there no stairgates, there is no child safety instruments within the house at all, even on the kitchen cupboards. This is fine in a house where parents/guardians are on the ball and aware, but as this family has the habit of sitting in the living room, smoking ciggies and watching TV while the eldest child wanders off alone, I think that there is reason to be concerned. And yes, they do this smoking infront of the baby who is a few months old.

Over the past couple of years, our family has extended numerous support. Advice, clothing for the eldest child, a cot bed, food. Yet it doesn't seem to make any difference. I've spent the last couple of days thinking about this and I actually realised that I have no need to inform the social services, as the eldest child is already on the 'child protection' list, social services would have already been informed of his accident by the hospital anyway.

I probably should have clarified better in my original post just what the situation in their home is.
 
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