4
   

Is it Child Abuse or Neglect?

 
 
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 04:36 pm
I've never been on a child abuse/neglect forum before, but I'm a little concerned. I have a question for anyone that might be more experienced in the matter.

My boyfriend's roommate is a father of two (girl and boy). He is separated from the mother. During the day, the little girl goes to work with the mother because there is a daycare center where she works. The little boy, however, stays home with his dad.

The problem is, the father has a night job, where he works from around 7pm-7am. He likes to sleep from 7am-3pm. During this time, he pays not attention to his son, not even to get him breakfast (I've found him eating pudding packs for breakfast). When the dad finally wakes up at around 3, he still pays no attention to his son. He goes on the computer, works on his car, watches tv or hangs out with friends. He hardly speaks to his son, except to give him commands ("Go get me this" or "Put on your shoes") often, he speaks to the child as if he is doing something wrong, even though he isn't ("Quite bother him" or "Fix your eye" - this command is especially bad, because he has a medical condition in his eye, and the command causes him to rub it self-consiously. It's not like the child can "fix" a medical condition).

Overall, I've never heard the father use a loving (barely civil) tone, and most of the time his ignores the kid anyway. When I am around, the son clings to me, even if I am not doing anything. It seems to me he is desperately lacking in basic love, affection, guidance and attention. I also feel like the father's constant ignoring and snapping at the child can be hurting his self-esteem.

There doesn't seem to be any signs of abuse, otherwise, and the child is very polite, helpful and kind when I am with him. I'm wondering, is this enough to merit attention from child services? I don't know how things are with his mother, whom he goes home to around 6pm. If this a serious case of neglect?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 7,353 • Replies: 68

 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 04:51 pm
@savari07,
Instead of calling CPS (and that would totally mess up your boyfriend's living situation, yes? Is there an option if he needs to move out quickly?), maybe call the child's mother. Since the little boy (you don't give an age) isn't in day care, I take it that during the school year he is in school. Is he? Is this just a summer thing?

You can also talk to the father a bit. E. g. I noticed Johnny was eating pudding packs for breakfast, do you have Cheerios for him? I could make sure they're out for him when he wakes up. It's small, it's simple, and it solves the problem. This isn't the entire problem and this little boy is, of course, not your responsibility. But if all it involves is you grabbing a box of cereal from off a high shelf so that a child can safely reach it, that's not much for you to do, and it beats the hell outta dealing with CPS.

Is it neglect/abuse? Hard to say without more detail. Busy parents who work the night shift, I am sure, are pretty vulnerable to charges of neglect.
nqyringmind
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 04:51 pm
@savari07,
Have you spoken with the mother?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 05:39 pm
How old is this kid?

It sounds like the two parents are trying to make things work in a difficult situation.

I'm with jespah -- if there are some small things you can do to help out, even if it's annoying or inconvenient, you can help make a huge difference in this kid's life. Small kindnesses go a long way.
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 10:52 pm
@savari07,
Quote:
There doesn't seem to be any signs of abuse, otherwise, and the child is very polite, helpful and kind when I am with him. I'm wondering, is this enough to merit attention from child services? I don't know how things are with his mother, whom he goes home to around 6pm. If this a serious case of neglect?

I don't think what is going on is enough to merit attention from CPS.

The child is not being endangered or physically abused by the father, as far as you know, and that's the main concern with CPS.

It also depends on the age of the child. How old is he?

What does this child do while the father is sleeping or busy doing other things? How does he occupy and amuse himself? Is he in danger of possibly harming himself because he is left unsupervised?

Does the child look well cared for? Is he clean? Are his clothes clean? Does he seem adequately nourished?

Is the child hungry or complaining of being hungry? Is the child able to take food for himself if it is available to him? Is the problem that there is nothing appropriate for him to eat in the home, even if he could take it on his own? Why doesn't the mother give the child breakfast before she drops him off with the father? Or why doesn't the father prepare lunch for this child the night before, before he goes to work, and leave it in the fridge for him to eat the next day? Or just leave dry cereal out for the child to take for breakfast? The child should have food available to him, and not just snack stuff, even if the father doesn't bother serving him, if the child is in that home all day. If he's not being fed breakfast and lunch, and doesn't have access to food, that is neglect.

You are describing an inadequate, indifferent, insensitive, poor parent, and one who seems to have little interest in or affection for his child, and while that would certainly have a negative psychological and emotion effect on the boy, I don't think CPS would really be able to intervene in this matter even based on emotional abuse/neglect. What's going on really doesn't sound like it's legally at that level. It's just lousy parenting. And the law doesn't really protect children well from that sort of parent--the parent's behavior, or neglect, has to be more clearly or directly harmful before CPS really can do anything. And the mother is just as responsible as the father if she's leaving the child in a situation where he is not being properly cared for.

It would probably be better if the child spent his days elsewhere. Is that a possibility? Can he go to the daycare center with his sister? Is there any summer program in the community he could attend?

Have you or your boyfriend spoken to this man about any of this? Does the man dislike the child or resent having to look after him? Is he just irresponsible, about shopping for food, or does he plain not care whether his child eats or not?

It's a sad situation for that child. But I'm not sure there is much CPS can do in a situation like this. Maybe if you provide more info it might change my thinking.

You can talk to the child and see if you can find out how he feels about spending time with his father and if anything about it is distressing to him. You can make sure there is something for the child to eat in the house. You can express your concerns to the child's father. I'm not sure there is much you can do beyond that.









savari07
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 04:58 am
@jespah,
I was very hesitant to call CPS to begin with because there are no signs of, for example, physical abuse or malnutrition. The son (he's just turned 8 years old) is in school during the year. Even during the school year, though, his father ignores him consistently (during the 3pm-7pm window he has him).

We have though about talking to the mother but weren't sure it was our place to intervene at all but I think we'll try that now that you've suggested it. The father is extremely difficult to talk to in general. I don't want to badmouth him, but he constantly makes racist and sexist comments and is generally ignorant in his attitude. I will try your example though, since he seems to respond better to direct 'instruction' (he's the kind of guy that won't even clean up after himself unless you tell him to). I'll give him some suggestions for preparing his son's meals and things like that - that's a good idea. Thank you.

I do feel bad because the parents are struggling. I'm just worried because this is happening every single day, and I am becoming responsible for feeding him, entertaining him, even just talking to him (his father seems to talk to me more than his own son!).
savari07
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:00 am
@nqyringmind,
No. My boyfriend and I have been talking about it, but we weren't sure if it was our place or if it was severe enough to warrant that. The mother also isn't in a prime living situation so we aren't sure how it is at her house, either. We're thinking to do that though, now that a few people have suggested it.
0 Replies
 
savari07
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:05 am
@boomerang,
The sone has just turn 8 years old. I understand their situation is difficult, which is why I haven't really done anything yet. The son is a real sweetheart and I love him to death, but at this point I'm practically responsible for him the entire day.

I have several jobs and some of them are work-from-home on the computer, so I'm there during the day (usually with the son glued to my hip!) Again, I don't mind - he's a wonderful kid - but even when the dad wakes up, he doesn't pay any attention to the child. He'll sit on his computer for hours playing video games while I'm reading to his kid! At this point I feel like the all-day babysitter.
0 Replies
 
savari07
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:25 am
@firefly,
I understand. I wasn't considering contacting CPS for these reasons - he's not being neglected in a physical sense, he's just being severely ignored.

The son is 8 years old. While his father is asleep, he will sit in his father's room and either watch television or play on his 'pretend' phone. He will do that all day, unless I'm around. Then he's glued to my hip, even if all I'm doing is vacuuming or reading a book!

There have been instances where Im concerned he's left alone too much and he might hurt himself unknowingly (for example, he makes his own food in the microwave all the time - does he know not to put certain things in the microwave, like metal or aluminum? I don't know) and he's broken things (accidentally, of course) while he's been there alone with his father asleep. Plus he have an unfinished basement with nails sticking out everywhere. It makes me concerned that something could happen, even if nothing's happened yet.

There are no signs of physical abuse or neglect; he seems to have basic necessities provided. The father almost never prepares food for him. There is cereal for him, but it's impossible for him to reach. All I've ever seen him eat on his own is pudding packs and microwavable macaroni and cheese. I actually make him eggs, sandwiches and other food almost every day. He has access to food, it's just really crappy food (Cabinet and fridge contents = poptarts, instant macaroni/cheese, pudding, cookies, pretzels, cup of noodles. There is one loaf of bread ad some peanut butter, too, which sit in there untouched unless I make him a sandwich).

I really never considered calling CPS because I recognize is mainly emotional neglect. I'm going to try to talk to the mother about the situation, and if he can spend his days in daycare or with another relative.

To give you an example of how little this father actually thinks about his kids, here's an incident that happened when they were still going to school. The father has his own bathroom. My boyfriend and I buy our own toilet paper, which we keep in our bathroom. One day, my boyfriend went in to the father's bathroom to clean out the cat's litter box that was in there. What he discovered was (a) no toilet paper and (b) a trashcan stuffed full of ****-covered paper towels. Apparently he'd been out of toilet paper for two weeks, and was telling his 5 year-old girl to wipe her ass with paper towels and put them in the garbage can. The DAY we discovered this, he had gone to the grocery store - with his kids - and still not bought toilet paper. It was disgusting. When we asked him why he waited so long to buy toilet paper, he said he 'hadn't had time.' This is the same person I witness, daily, sitting on the computer for hours, fiddling with his car or hanging out with his friends in the driveway. He's 30+ years old, and I don't think he should be acting this way.

I'm going to talk to the mother and ask a few questions from the child, like you suggested. I recognize there's really not much I can do, it's just frustrating to deal with.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:42 am
I'd reiterate, you and your boyfriend should also see about a quick getaway living arrangement for your boyfriend. That does not help this child, of course, but if the situation turns ugly your boyfriend will need somewhere to go.
savari07
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:49 am
@jespah,
That's fair. Honestly if someone had to move out, it would be the father before it would be my boyfriend. My boyfriend invited the father to live with him because he was in a bad living arrangement before. They've been friends for years, but this situation is really stressing him out.
nqyringmind
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 10:06 am
@savari07,
I just want to acknowledge you for caring. It would be so easy to look the other way. I hate to see our children neglected, abused and unhappy. They are so precious. Right now, you could be making a critical difference in this child's life. Thank you!!
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 10:31 am
@nqyringmind,
I'd like to second that. I also admire that you aren't complaining about being put in a position of caring for this 8-year-old. I work from home and I know how hard it can be to do that when there's a kid around.
firefly
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 12:43 pm
@savari07,
The situation you're describing really isn't emotional neglect/abuse, as the law defines it--it's not as extreme.
http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/emotional-abuse.html

But what's going on with that child is shameful, and no "difficult situation" those parents are in excuses or justifies that sort of inattention to the needs of the child. The father is an irresponsible parent, but since he's seemingly doing the absolute bare minimum the law requires of him, and not more actively emotionally abusing the child, it's not a situation in which CPS could even do much--except to, maybe, tell the mother not to leave him with the father all day every day, but I'm not sure they could even force a man like that into parenting classes, which he certainly seems to need.

Fortunately, for the child, he's in school most of the year, so this is really a temporary situation--and I hope it is only a temporary situation. And, even more fortunately for this little boy, you are looking out for him and looking after him, so you're helping to mitigate his father's neglectful behavior. If you don't mind doing that, please continue doing that--you're doing it for the child, not the father. You are a very caring person and you are helping the boy.

Talking to the mother is a good idea. If she can make another arrangement for the child, whether at the daycare at her workplace, or with another relative, or in some recreation program at a YMCA, or school, or community rec center, or church, it would be better for the child. If she is genuinely struggling with a difficult situation and needs some help managing her life and providing adequate care for her children, encourage her to seek some social services help at community agencies offering help to families--help her find one, if necessary--there are many supportive services she might benefit from.

I agree with you, it's a frustrating situation to have to deal with. I feel angry just reading about that father's behavior. He may be dealing with all sorts of problems of his own, but he's not behaving responsibly toward his child, he's not acting like much of a parent at all.

You can always call CPS, not to lodge a complaint, or to ask them to investigate, but simply for advice regarding what else you might do, or suggest to the mother regarding child care. They are a good and useful resource and they are generally willing to try to help prevent abuse/neglect, rather than simply address it after the fact as they are most often called on to do.

Let us know what happens.



0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 03:32 pm
@savari07,
Maybe when you talk with the dad you could express some sympathy toward his tough work schedule - and that it must be difficult to take care of a young child while working nights. Maybe to make things easier for you, you could make a sandwich at night and leave it in the fridge for the boy to get during the day, along with just juice boxes. Maybe you could leave out some coloring books for him so he won't bother you while you need to nap.

Even though I don't think the dad deserves it - it may be an easier way to get him to do something for the poor child.

You both could approach the mom in a similar fashion - that way it isn't sounding like you are attacking either one. But understanding it is difficult having young kids in this situation and maybe throw in there - I had a friend who did ABC with their young kids, and it seemed to help the kids and the parents.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 03:37 pm
@nqyringmind,
ditto on that.

Also, if your boyfriend has been friends with this horrible dad, does your boyfriend feel comfortable talking with him? Maybe pointing out how he is treating his son?
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 03:45 pm
@Linkat,
Linkat wrote:

ditto on that.

Also, if your boyfriend has been friends with this horrible dad, does your boyfriend feel comfortable talking with him? Maybe pointing out how he is treating his son?


Jesus Christ, the kid is EIGHT YEARS OLD!, plenty old enough to look after himself during the day. Dad not being full time playmate to his 8 YO does not make him a bad dad. Hopefully the mom and everyone else is smart enough to ignore this busybody roommates GF. I am however not optimistic that they will.
nqyringmind
 
  5  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 04:27 pm
@hawkeye10,
Yeah! What are we THINKING! He's been on the planet since 2004! His experience should equip him with all the tools he needs to handle himself, make the right decisions and ultimately become a real man.
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 04:35 pm
@nqyringmind,
How much trouble can a reasonably competent 8 year old get into around the house as dad is sleeping? He should be able to fix a plate, and to amuse himself. Why do we insist upon treating normal kids as retards? It is bad for them.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 06:03 pm
I have to admit that I kind of agree with Hawkeye. 8 year olds are fairly competent and there is someone around in case of an emergency. I'll wager that a lot of 8 year olds are left home alone during the summer and that some of them are even responsible for younger siblings.

Obviously that's not the best situation for a kid, nor is this situation, but at least here the kid does have some supervision.

I think the OP should look into area Boy's and Girl's Clubs, or the Y or the park department, or some of the other low cost activities most cities provide for kids in the summer. Then if/when it comes time to talk to the kid's dad she can have a handy list of safe activities to pass along.
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Is it Child Abuse or Neglect?
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/17/2022 at 07:27:41