I need some advice and I'm not sure if I'm over reacting.
I would also be horrified. I don't think you are overreacting either. I would be so scared for these children :( I wish I could offer advice.
From what I've read, I would feel no choice but to report it. She may well go downhill, but those children have no voice and right now you are in a position to speak for them.
@anahappilyeverafter: This isn't about your friend or her feelings this is about the welfare of the children. I would report it to someone anyone but I wouldn't hesitate because the situations will never just fix themselves.
That sounds like a pretty bad situation. As a friend you should bring some of this up to her. Scratches on a child, are concerning, bruises from tripping not so much. My son has a ton of bruises on his legs, he hops, he jumps, he falls, he runs, he skips, he falls, he falls. lol. Thats what kids do.
The mess, and dirty diapers piled high are certainly concerning, it is a health issue. I hope though that once you report them that she will get help, rather than her children taken away. The system is really no place for children.
Wow! Your poor friend! She is clearly suffering from some kind of untreated mental illness or depression.
Do you know any of her family that you could possibly reach out to? Or anyone that is close (emotionally and geographically) to her that could help? Unfortunately with you being so far away you can only do so much, and I agree that as heartbreaking as the situation is, there is a fine line when dealing with a person in her position between what she will accept as help and what she will take as you telling her what to do.
Also, to get a better understanding of her position and how you can help, you could look into a show called Hoarders. A lot of the people on that show suffer from some type of mental illness or depression that leads to a lack of personal care. I wonder if perhaps they might have some suggestions for friends or family on how to help a person in that condition.
@Klein2bReidy: this isn't about her feelings. I'm talking about her hanging herself. I know I have to report this. But how? How do I do this I'm a way that I can keep her trut as I don't think she has anyone else.
I know in the US if you work with kids in most fields you have to report things like that. I had to report my neighbors because if I didn't and someone else did and they found out I knew about it I would be punished as harshly as the law would allow. Generally as harshly as the parents are.
I don't think your over reacting. Someone has to stand up for those kids and it sounds like their mother isn't well.
If their home poses a threat to their safety then yes it is neglect/child abuse. That's not a healthy environment for anyone to live in and especially when there are two small children involved. Clearly this woman is having a hard time raising her children and can't create a stable home environment when she tells her children to fuck off, doesn't clean, isn't concerned about wires that her kids are tripping over, etc. I would recommend reporting it.
@Killingmesoftly: I did mentionit to her but it hasn't gone in. She just made excuses. it's time to take action. I work with kids so have a duty of care. Question is how do I do it. I am concerned about the kids and her.
@anahappilyeverafter: Oh geez. :( I think the bigger issue here is here childrens safety and her own safety. Once she gets the help she needs, she will be grateful.
This is by all means a mental health issue, and you will be doing a huge favor to your friend and her children to notify someone who can help. It doesn't matter if she finds out that it was you - she is not well enough to handle this on her own and needs intervention.
(DH's cousin has two kids and lives like this as well. She's out of state, and her parents do her no favors because they try and cover up and make excuses for her. Every time we visit, I want to steal her kids and take them home with me. As they're growing older, you can see exactly how much their mother's behavior has influenced them - the boy is being held back from first grade and doesn't know his alphabet or how to count, and the 3 year old girl is so mean and nasty that she'll yell at her grandmother to "fuck off". We can pretty much confirm that the mom has addiction issues, but again, her parents cover up for her and enable her...it's so sad.)
I think you have to report her to the authorities. I don't know how it works in the UK, but I don't think Child Protective Services truly wants children to be separated from their parents if it can be prevented. Your version of CPS might be able to get her connected to some social or health services so she can get treated and get some support and be a good mom to her children. Like a PP said, those kids don't have a voice and are relying on you. Good luck!
I think you need to just report her then, if she does not see what she is doing is wrong, or harmful to her kids. I think when reporting her tell them what you know, but tell the whole truth, not just the bad things, that way they know what they are working with, and can potentially just do parenting classes and stuff for the parents. I just feel so bad for children of the state, sometimes it truly is not a better life.
Yikes what an awful situation for everyone, the children, the mum, and you as a caring friend.
I also work with children and have to make the calls to authorities many times. I am protected by our laws that mandate that we report any concerns.
Our approach is to work with the family. So if I were to make a call I would encourage the mother to make the call with me. If she wasn't on board I'd explain my love and care for her and her family and that it was my personal obligation to do so.
But empowering her to make this call with you is important.
We live in different countries so the outcomes of these reports may be drastically different than here in the states. But in my experience the first response is not to take children away (again something I can reassure families). Typically the service providers want to keep children in the homes with their families and will first try to help through services to improve the living conditions in the home. If it is genuinely an unsafe environment and the mother is unwell and unable to make changes at this time the wellbeing of the children takes precedence.
It sounds to me like you are being a concerned friend and taking the necessary precautions to protect a friend who is struggling.
You are doing a great job and can be one of her biggest advocates in this.
You have to report this. But when you do, make it crystal clear that she poses a risk to herself.
If you have to ask, then your feelings are probably correct. Think of if you didnt report it and something happened. There are ways to do it, without people know it was you!
@anahappilyeverafter: I see well if that's the case and you don't find someone and god forbid something happens then how would you feel? I understand you want to keep trust but right now they are both in harms way and that is more important then maintaining trust. I am sorry your in this situation I know its hard but I have been there and I have done this on a friend and trust me I sleep much easier knowing she is getting help and her kids are safe then if our friendship is maintained.
@anahappilyeverafter: I think we have the idea that social services just take kids away. But in general they do try to keep kids with their family if they can. It sounds like a situation where she and her kids need the help if a social worker. I feel you need to report this.
@wilfred: I know that social services won't take the children away unless they are in immediate danger or the children confirm the complaints and they have been abused. They more then likely will help get the food and adiquate living.
It sounds like your friend really needs help. Reporting her doesn't automatically mean she'll lose her kids. Agencies actually try to keep families together as much as possible. By reporting your friend, you are making it so she and her kids can get the help they need.
Guys just to reiterate, I am going to report this. I work with kids. I have duty of care and if I was supporting a child and I knew this was going on on the home, I'd be concerned. I am using my professional hat here and I am going to report it. But I am looking for advice. I have know this girl since I was 13. I care about her and although my main concern is her children, I am also frightened for her.
@anahappilyeverafter: When you call the authorities, I'd preface the conversation with your concern over the parent's state of mental health, and ask for it to be on record. I'm not sure how things work internationally, but is there a separate department that deals with that aspect of social services?
How close are you to this girl's parents? Maybe you can get word to them (after authorities have been notified) that they should watch her. This is quite the pickle, I'm not sure how else to go about it.
her dad is completely off the radar with his own mental health and her mother doesn't take an active role. The kids father is a soldier and is currently deployed overseas.
Can you be the person to connect her with some type of support, whether it be a Social Worker or some type of agency?
@AB Bride: it'd be difficult as we live under different systems. My best bet phone be to phone a child neglect hotline.
What an awful situation for you to be in! I am so sorry. And how terrible for the poor children!
You definitely should call a social worker. This is neglect. This poor mother needs mental help, and the babies need to be in a safe place until the mother is able to care for them again. Your relationship MIGHT not survive, but someone has got to grab her by the shoulders and say, "This is not normal. You need help."
I hope that this turns out well.
Unfortunately, unless your friend is considered a danger to herself, no one can MAKE her get treatment for mental illness. If her children are taken away, then she may need to check in with a health worker every so often in order to get them back, but that is an extreme case.
I'd call a local social worker and get advice from him/her. Social workers are awesome under-utilized resources!
Why cares if she blames you/knows it was you? Do something to help those kids. She is clearly not currently fit to parent.
Where I live there is something called mandatory notification. You have an obligation given your work, and what you have exerienced, to report this.
If this ends a friendship so be it. If your friend finds out you reported, so be it. The protection of those children is infinitely more important.
I know you say you are going to report it, but you haven't yet. Every day, (you said the visit was recent, but that could mean in the last month!) hour, minute those children are left there could result in disaster.
Inaction/ delaying at this point is not in the best interests of anyone.
@daybyday: who cares? I do. She is mentally unwell and has attempted suicide in the past. She is someone's daughter, sister and friend. I am going to do something. ive said that several times now but I want to make sure that when the she hits the fan, she's not going to think I am turning against her and she's alone. I'm doing this because its the right thing to do for everyone involved.
IM the person who cares. The children are my priority by there is also a very mentally unstable woman I wish to see live too. Do something? I'm here right now safeguarding and child proofing her home to see her through to when additional support can reach her.
@MrsOliveBird: you are so wrong about me. I am here now. the kids are in bed as is she and i am going round trying to make the flat safe before i have to leave. I will take action then. Ive been parenting the kids all day and keeping them safe . I'm the one stopping the youngest splitting her head open, cleaning them up, handling the mother. I'm the only one who is here to help right now. I am not wasting time, I'm stepping in to put things in place so that when I have to leave, precautions are in place until the support gets here. Maybe choose your assumptions a bit wiser. I was due home days ago. I stayed and i am shattered. I could have gone and just Phoned support workers. but there would still be days where the kids were in danger. so i stayed and am doing the best of my ability to minimise the issues. In my country we have duty of care. It doesn't end when you leave the office.
@anahappilyeverafter: Do exactly what you plan to do. And I applaud you for being such a good friend in a difficult time. I understand that you would (rightfully) be concerned about your friend's health as well as the health of the children.
I just hope the children end up healthy and alright, and your friend gets the help she needs and doesn't do anything irrational.
We have an anonymous abuse hotline in the States. I am sure you have something like it and I suggest making a report based on your observations. Definitely child neglect and if you are a mandatory reporter then you have to report it.
@anahappilyeverafter: Your initial post states that you are not sure if you are overreacting, and also "I have recently been to visit her and am left feeling really torn as to what to do next."
Recently been to visit her does not mean that you are there now.
My assumption is logical.
Your first post was asking for advice as to whether you should report at all. I am not dreaming this, you wrote it in black and white.
Time to get off the internet and report it. If you are there cleaning up the house etc, you are enabling her, and in the end will make it all but impossible for the authorities to determine neglect, as you have covered it up.
For your information, I an very qualified to speak on these matters, with a degree in Nursing, a Bachelors in Social Work and a background for over 7 years in working in Welfare for those most marginalised.
I don't want to be harsh, but you should not be delaying this!
Sounds every bit like a nasty place for the kids that's for sure. I don't think you are over reacting at all and have to trust your gut in this situation which sounds to be right. We have a right to protect those who can't protect themselves. You have to be a voice for those children and do the right thing even if it does jeopordize your friendship......in which I think she might even thank you in the end!
@anahappilyeverafter: I know in the U.S. you can report things without your identity being revealed. If anything, perhaps this would be a wake up call and there are resources out there that she could get help. I feel so bad that you are in this situation, but if you have these concerns, its obviously pretty bad.
@MrsOliveBird: I am not enabling. I am stopping a child smashing her head open. I am cleaning what has to be cleaned right now as a child could get sick. should I have left the child to roam in a house with cat poo everywhere? What about the sharp cans on the floor? Leave for the child to stand on? And the cat scratching that child? Leave him there too? No. Duty of care kicked in and I have removed the worst parts. I took photographs and made notes beforehand.
Where did I ask if I should report? I said I felt torn but repeatedly stated through out this thread I was going to report. I am torn because I know I am doing something that could push her over the edge.
My advice I am looking for is how to be there for my friend because I know she's going to bed it when I report tomorrow.
i asked if I am over reacting because this is obviously an emotional situation. I know by reporting I am doing the right thing but we all get scared, no matter how qualified we are. I work with kids with severe disabilities all day long and I still get scared sometimes. It's even scarier when you know what you are about to do could potentially lead to your oldest frienliar tempting suicide.
The safety and welfare of these children are ultimately more important than your friendship with this woman.
Please make a call to the appropriate authorities right away.
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