AIBU to think about calling social services?

(56 Posts)
Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 10:47:41

Really not sure if I'm being over dramatic here or not. There's a big old house next to us that's divided into quite large flats. We are also in a flat in a house next door but both on the first floor. There are people living in this flat - I've only really seen the children, never the adults. I've seen at least three kids, a couple of whom look like they should be at school but I never see them leave the house. I'm not here all the time obviously and don't spend all the time that I am here looking out of the window so I could just be missing them.
The last two nights I've been woken up by the children crying and screaming and the sound of adults shouting. Not horrendously but the kids sound really distressed, it's goes on for quite a while and it's at 3 in the morning. Last night it was loud I got up and looked across - all the lights were on and by peeking through a side window (too much?) I could see two of the kids lying on the wooden floor of the lounge, I think having their nappies changed and them being covered with a blanket but the lights being left full on. I knew the family that lived there before and there are at least three or four large bedrooms and there were two sofas with nobody on them in the lounge. The kids seemed to be dressed too. The curtains are always closed in all the windows and it just doesn't feel right but I haven't seen anything really clear.

Sorry its a bit long but am I over reacting or should I call someone?

Jinty64 Wed 17-Jul-13 11:13:24

It is very difficult to know but it does all sound a little bit odd. That your instinct tells you "that it just doesn't feel right" suggests to me that you should take it further. SS may already be aware of problems.

It's difficult as you don't want to cause problems for people where there are none and everyone parents differently and this is not necessarily wrong but, in so many cases of abuse others were aware or suspected problems and did nothing with horrendous results.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 11:18:40

I think that's what I'm worried about - there have just been so many horrible stories recently! Not sure whether they'll take it seriously though but I imagine the people in the other flats must have heard something so maybe they'll call too?

teetering13 Wed 17-Jul-13 11:18:45

Yes .. just phone and say what you have here .. that way you've left it in the hands of those that can help if help is needed ..

Dahlen Wed 17-Jul-13 11:20:06

Based purely on what you've said in your OP, I would. It's not your job to assess the situation or decide on a solution. That's the remit of SS. As a member of your community though it is beholden on you to act when you see something of concern.

lagoonhaze Wed 17-Jul-13 11:20:51

Just call. No need to drama. Just report the facts you have seen. Let them know. If you have further concerns in the future call again. Someones a first referral does score high enough apparently but repeat concerns are prioritised.

BlackeyedSusan Wed 17-Jul-13 11:22:34

perhaps they home educate, perhaps the children have sen and ae still in nappies, perhaps they are just still not dry at night, it is not uncommon, perhaps they wanted to sleep somewhere cool? perhjaps the prents were shouting above the crying... things like "quick he has weed get me some kitchen roll."

on the other hand...

I think I would call SS too.
How long have they lived there?
Next time there is shouting at 3am and you can hear the kids voices I think I would be calling 101 and asking for advice.

If your gut is telling you that there is something not right, then I would be inclined to listen to it. Pass on the information to the relevant authorities and let them decide if there is a problem there.

soverylucky Wed 17-Jul-13 11:29:56

Just call. For all you know they might be known to ss already. I am pretty sure you can call anonymously - or perhaps call childline for advice??

LimitedEditionLady Wed 17-Jul-13 11:33:30

Id phone but it could be nothing but put your mins at rest.It could be just some parents having a hard time of it,people struggle,fact of life.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 11:37:04

Great - I don't want to be judgy, am sure I've been heard shouting at my screaming children before and still haven't potty trained my nearly 3 yr old but something definitely feels a bit wrong. Thankyou for your advice - feel much less like a nosy neighbour!

I always think it's not our job to decide if there's a problem or not that needs investigating because we aren't qualified and don't have all the information required to make a decision.
It is social services job though. So if you have a concern, report it. If you are wrong, they will find out for you.
If you are right, you have helped children that need it.

Don't second guess what's going on, if you are concerned, report it.

DuelingFanjo Wed 17-Jul-13 11:42:41

Make the call, if they are ok social services will be able to confirm that.

Bear in mind though that with the good weather kids are more unsettled at night and also we all have our windows open so we get to hear a lot more stuff - my street is a nightmare at the moment with wailing kids and shouty parents.

better to be safe than sorry though.

fromparistoberlin Wed 17-Jul-13 11:45:26

yes x

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 12:01:40

Could you elaborate paristoberlin?

Ipsissima Wed 17-Jul-13 12:04:39

Call the NSPCC and discuss your worries with them, as a halfway stage, if you are concerned about instigating a call to Social Services as the first step.

xylem8 Wed 17-Jul-13 12:08:18

How old did the children having their nappies changed, look?

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 12:57:06

It was really hard to see - wouldn't have been unreasonable for them to be in nappies at night though I wouldn't have thought.

teetering13 Wed 17-Jul-13 13:06:05

How long have they been next door?

loopylou6 Wed 17-Jul-13 13:12:51

Just do it, better safe than sorry

Buzzardbird Wed 17-Jul-13 13:13:52

It could be the heat but unlikely if they are fully dressed...most would be sleeping nekid I would have thought?
if your spidey senses are tingling just call for advice. A visit wouldn't harm.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 17-Jul-13 13:16:02

I slept on a wooden floor last night. Because the lower you are the cooler it is.

Perhaps they are following one of the many how to keep cool bits of advice given out on this morning

RoooneyMara Wed 17-Jul-13 13:25:50

call now. good luck.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 13:52:19

Definitely going to call. We've just been in the garden playing in the paddling pool and saw one of the kids watching from the upstairs bedroom window where they always seem to be. It's a loft conversion with velux style windows and it must be hot up there as the front of the house is south facing. There was an adult male sounding shout and the kid disappeared and the window was shut. He definitely looked about 7 too. Maybe there's a reason for him to be up there - sick or something but why shut the windows on a day like today? There's no air con up there either.

RoooneyMara Wed 17-Jul-13 13:54:35

something is wrong. let us know how you get on.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 13:54:55

Socket - was that not uncomfortable? I must be getting old - need a proper mattress!

They've not been next door long, maybe a month? Guessing though as I never see them.

Isildur Wed 17-Jul-13 14:11:17

I don't think any of that sounds particularly odd.

My lot are found sleeping all over the place, particularly if they are ill, or if it's really hot, or if we have guests.

We have home-school, and I was thoroughly sick of having to explain to people that, no they were not meant to be at school.

One of ours can screech for Britain when being changed, or in fact when being sick, to the point where I worried more about the screaming than about whatever illness they were suffering from. And loud voices/shouting are the default here.

Mine are holy terrors for watching random neighbours from the windows too, and we are always pulling them up on it, because weird staring children do un-nerve people somewhat grin.

Unless you have something more to go on that what seems to be a suspicion of different parenting styles, I'd hold off on summoning social services.

Having them show up on your door-step isn't 'harmless if you have nothing to hide'. It leaves you feeling that you are being scrutinised, judged, and is horribly intrusive.

BramblyHedge Wed 17-Jul-13 14:19:43

Although I agree it doesn't sound great, one of the kids could be having night terrors. My son has these and can be screaming in his sleep things like " don't do it to me mummy. No mummy no" etc If I heard that from next door I would be very concerned ... but from my side of the wall I know he is asleep and it will pass in 15 mins. My husband and I might talk very loudly over him if trying to either calm him or deal with our other kids being woken up.

...but I am not there and this is only one possibility.

trapezegirl Wed 17-Jul-13 14:37:16

Please trust your instincts (you have them for a reason) and make a report.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 14:47:50

I've called and spoken to a lovely social worker. I explained that there could be lots of explanations for what has happened and that I really wasn't sure but that in my heart I felt that something wasn't right.
She agreed that things seemed a little off so I think they are going to just check and see if they are known etc and maybe get back to me.
I feel better i think for having called. If there's nothing wrong then I would feel awful and I really don't want to upset the family for no reason or make them feel judged but I can't get it out of my head and I would be devastated if I did nothing and there was something going on.

Isildur - even if you home school surely you go out sometimes?

Really hope I am wrong about this though sad

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 14:49:33

I don't think any of that sounds particularly odd tbh. I spoke to someone else on MN the other day who says she never opens the windows as out keeps the house cooler apparently.

Ds was up all night last night and he is 12 so should be on school but isn't as he didn't settle down to sleep unhook early hours of this morning as it was so bloody hot.

I'd quite happily sleep on the floor-it's cooler!

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 14:49:47

In not on

RoooneyMara Wed 17-Jul-13 16:06:10

Thankyou for calling them. I am grateful to you because I'd have been very concerned about this otherwise and now I know that those in the know, are aware of it, and if something is going on that shouldn't be, then hopefully it will get sorted out.

You did the right thing.

fromparistoberlin Wed 17-Jul-13 17:03:19

yes, you should call them. better safe than sorry

I was reading about daniel pelka (bless his soul) and jesus, dod none iof the neighbours hear or see anything? clearly not

zoraqueenofzeep Wed 17-Jul-13 17:39:51

It doesn't help abused children to be lost in amongst thousands of reports of false allegations. Go over and introduce yourself, you might find that they have kids with disabilities, may be home educating and are not the abusive parents you've imagined in your fantasies (which is all your going on at the moment). My new neigbours have a child who screams all night, he's autistic, luckily for them nobody round here is crazy or nasty enough to waste time calling ss when we can knock on their door and get the facts.

They don't need the stress of your (probably wrong) assumptions causing them upheaval, if you call over and see a pair of drug addicts answer or very aggressive people then you can consider yourself justified in your concerns but at least have the decency to find out first.

zoraqueenofzeep Wed 17-Jul-13 17:41:55

Sorry just noticed your last post, hope your right, it will be horrible for loving parents to be invaded like that for no reason other than a neighbours paranoid fantasies.

FanjoForTheMammaries Wed 17-Jul-13 17:45:01

Hear hear. I wish you had approached them first.

My DD used to have night terrors and also scream a lot at night, eventually the upstairs landlord contacted us and mentioned her tenants had heard her, we could then explain about DD's issues and they were understanding. DH and I also shouted at each other a bit when she had the night terrors because we were so stressed out.

If they had just reported us to social services it would have opened up a horrible can of worms for us.

The sleeping on livingroom floor thing sounds odd but not abusive IMO.

FirstStopCafe Wed 17-Jul-13 17:45:26

I think you did the right thing by following your instincts

WeGotTheKrunk Wed 17-Jul-13 18:05:28

You did the right thing Simbaline. It might be that there's nothing untoward going on, in which case, no harm done. But if there is something amiss, you've done the kids a favour. It is known that some abusers move area frequently, often as a way of staying away from the watchful eye of social services / child protection. Kids can so easily slip through the net that way. you did the right thing. flowers

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 17-Jul-13 19:11:01

The coolness on my skin was worth the sore joints grin

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 19:39:23

I was very clear when I spoke to social services that I was raising concerns but that it was very possible there were other explanations for what I had seen. I did do a bit of research on what to do having never come across this before and all the information on what to do if you had concerns re the welfare of a child that I read said not to approach the parents unless you knew them and not to wait until you were sure and that a lot of these cases would have benefitted from early intervention.

I certainly don't think they're going to go in all guns blazing from my report and I'm not sure I would have called if I thought the kids were in any way linked in in terms of school, groups, activities etc but they seem very isolated so I don't know who else would identify it if there is a problem.

Isildur Wed 17-Jul-13 20:13:59

They've only lived there a month hmm.

dirtyface Wed 17-Jul-13 20:24:03

just do it. its anonymous. and from what you have said i would be worried too

i did it a while ago because of a situation i was aware of, and i am so glad i did

spleenyone Wed 17-Jul-13 20:27:34

You definitely did the right thing. Thank goodness those children have a neighbour who doesn't just turn a blind eye. You were concerned, with good reason, you reported it, and now the professionals can act, or not, accordingly.

Sconset Wed 17-Jul-13 20:33:55

In our authority, if a family move in it can be weeks or months until they get a school place... there may well be valid reasons the children are home 24/7. And if 1 child does have a disability, it may be nigh on impossible for a parent to take them all out.

fromparistoberlin Fri 19-Jul-13 09:59:39

"If they had just reported us to social services it would have opened up a horrible can of worms for us."

I dont agree. If SS contact people and there is no issue, then they can move on. SS contacted my SIL as my niece broke her arm. No biggie, did not "open can of worms". I dont agree that people should contact parents first

time after time we read about kids and wonder why noone did anything, fucking devastating

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:02:03

I know people who have had no issue and been contacted by SS and they didn't just "move on" and indeed a can of worms was opened.

DuelingFanjo Fri 19-Jul-13 10:16:48

In general Social Services are not into creating shit-storms for families, even the ones in difficulty. If the child are not deemed to be at risk then in general social workers will leave the case alone and if they are at risk they will mostly work WITH families to HELP them rather than break them apart, though I am sure these facts won't deter people from ripping into social work as a profession and spreading scare stories.

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:30:51

Am definitely NOT ripping into them as a profession.

We have a wonderful social worker who has supported us amazingly and whom I will be eternally grateful for.

But i DO know others who have met jobsworth types with no understanding of their situation who have made their lives very difficult.

Like all professions there are some less good practitioners and the difficulty is they hold power

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:36:29

A very good friend of mine WAS a CP social worker before she had kids in fact.

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:37:54

(so lets not be Dueling Fanjos winkgrin)

Satnightdropout Fri 19-Jul-13 11:00:26

Well done for calling up, I would've done the same.
Social services don't like to rip families apart contrary to popular belief. My mum knew a lady that had social services called on her for serious offences like tying her 3 year old to the bed because she wouldn't stay in one place, and going days without feeding them. Regardless of this, social services gave her numerous chances, even paid for a little holiday at the local caravan park to give them a change of scenery, hoping she would. She didn't and her kids were taken away from her (rightly so), but this was after yonks of social services trying their best to make her a better parent.

Satnightdropout Fri 19-Jul-13 11:01:28

*hoping she would CHANGE.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:02:17

OP you did the right thing.

RoxyFox211 Fri 19-Jul-13 14:56:40

Im going against the grain here but I would have definitely wanted more evidence that something was wrong before informing ss. Even if they found nothing amiss their names would still be registered somewhere & could make life difficult for them later down the line. I dont really understand what you think is going on? They're up in the night having nappies changed in the living room? What's the problem :s ?? That being said I'm the only one who seems to think this way! Would never get involved unless there was clear evidence of abuse. sometimes my daughter wakes in the night and runs around naked (specially in this heat) shouting. It's very difficult to cool/calm her down. I'm paranoid someone will report me or something now, which would destroy me. Our house isn't very tidy or anything, and we're a bit odd. but our daughters well looked after and very healthy.

xylem8 Sat 20-Jul-13 20:51:20

To begin with you say their flat and yours are both on the first floor, then you say it is a loft conversion but you can still see the floor so presumably must be looking down at the window from above.
Then you say you have regularl;y seen children at the windows, but the curtains are always drawn.
Have you though the curtains might be drawn to keep the sun out and closed because they have a mobile air con unit
How on earth do you know they never go out. Their curtains are always drawn and I can't imagine you spend more than a tiny proportionof your time watching their front door!

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