Reported Relatives to Social Services - Was I Right To Do So?

(26 Posts)

Hello everyone,

I am extremely concerned about the way relatives of mine are behaving toward their children. One of the children in question, who is six years old, sometimes has problems going to sleep. On two separate occasions, her father has taken her out of bed, quite late at night, smacked her (on at least one occasion), placed her in the car, driven her to the police station, sat outside with her in the car, and threatened to take her inside if she didn't go to sleep, as punishment.

The child’s older sister (13 years old) was so disturbed at listening to this one night, she told a teacher at school that she was scared for the safety of her younger sister. Someone from the school rang my relative, but my relative said that the 13 year old was just getting her own back about being grounded for having a boyfriend. According to my relative, the school accepted this explanation, said they would monitor the 13 year old and her boyfriend, and that no further action would be taken. The 13 year old found this out on the way home from school and was so scared of her step-father, that she began crying hysterically at a friend’s house and wouldn't go home.

However, this is not the first incident of emotionally abusive behaviour (in my opinion) this parent has shown towards his children, but one of many, and it seems to be getting worse. The 13 year old is constantly and excessively monitored. Sometimes she has to have her bag searched before going out. She has to hand over her mobile phone/tablet so that my relatives can read her text and email messages. If found to have been in contact with a boy, or to have done something ‘wrong’, she has her Facebook account deactivated, her mobile phone and tablet confiscated. She is also regularly grounded (currently for 3 months), which also includes the confiscations and not being able to stay with her grandmother at the weekend, as part of the punishment. I've noticed that the 13 year old is becoming quieter and withdrawn.

The six year old is also excessively monitored, especially at meal times, constantly being told to eat ‘all’ her food, or face some punishment or other. My relatives regularly call her the ‘devil child’ in front of other people, and find it amusing to do so. The six year old is having difficulties at school, and has been bossy with other children, thus she has few friends. She has a lock on the ‘outside’ of her bedroom door. She also has an imaginary friend who she talks to regularly – I know that this can be classed as normative childhood development, but it could also be a coping strategy, considering the pressure she's under to always be a 'perfect child'.

Both children are constantly shouted at, belittled, and threatened with disproportionate punishments to their supposed wrongdoing. They have no privacy, no right to express themselves, or disagree with their parents, especially their father. Their grandmother has mentioned that my relatives are too strict with their children, only to receive threats that they will not allow her to see the children if she continues with any criticism, whatsoever. Indeed, the father flies into an absolute rage, becomes extremely aggressive at the slightest suggestion that he could do things differently, or be less strict. They believe they are good parents and nothing is going to change. The father is also spreading lies and rumours about the grandmother who has criticised him. In doing so, it looks like he’s trying to cut his partners ties to her own relatives.

I'm looking for some advice and/or opinion please. In light of the police station incident, I rang the NSPCC to ask for their advice, and whether or not they thought it, and the other issues outlined above, abusive. They did, and have referred the case to the local SS, who have been in contact with said relative. I just want to know if people would have done what I did. I feel terribly guilty and dread the day when I see the person who I reported. I'm truly scared that if they (or other family members) find out what I did, they will disown me, but I do genuinely fear for these children's well-being, especially their current and future mental health.

I suppose my question is this; in your opinion do you think I did the right thing?

Apologies for the message being so long!

Sally

hesterton Sun 20-Jul-14 05:43:30

Of coure you did. Poor children.

Thanks for your supportive comment hesterton.

MangoBiscuit Sun 20-Jul-14 06:13:52

I feel so desperately sad reading your OP. Yes, you did the right thing. sad

CrockedPot Sun 20-Jul-14 06:19:23

100% right to do so, poor children! I do hope they get the help they need.

InternetFOREVER Sun 20-Jul-14 06:23:15

You did the right thing OP, no matter what the outcome. Could you really have stood by knowing what these children were suffering, for the sake of protecting the adults in the family? Whatever happens remind yourself that these DC deserved protecting. School's reaction was totally inappropriate - I hope you mentioned this to SS as well as their child protection policies need reviewing.

piratecat Sun 20-Jul-14 06:26:59

you were right to report.
i understand you are worried now but it could make a difference for the children.

ColdCottage Sun 20-Jul-14 06:35:35

You did the right thing.

Hopefully this will be a wake up call for the parents and with help they can change. Whatever happens though you put the children first.

Is the extended family there to take on the children if in a worst case scenario they are removed? Better than foster care.

Perhaps watch the TV show which was just on "don't take my child". I think the case about the grandparents wanting custody was interesting and shows how much you have to do to keep children in the family.

I'm not trying to scare you but in a worst case forewarned is forearmed.

I hope the children are now supported and ok.

Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. I feel as though I've done the right thing, just very anxious that I've taken such a serious step, and that I can't really tell anybody in the family that is was me, without bad feeling. They're lovely girls, how they are treated upsets me deeply.

And no InternetFOREVER, I honestly couldn't stand by any longer. I've been asked to contact SS at the end of next week to enquire as to what action is being taken, if any. I'll certainly mention the school when I speak to them.

ColdCottage - Yes, there's an extended family that would be more than willing to have the children, in a worse case scenario.

Because their grandmother is constantly threatened with her contact being stopped, she has been looking at legal advice regarding her right to contact with the children supplied by the: 'Grandparents Association'.

Hopefully, it won't ever get that far.

Trooperslane Sun 20-Jul-14 07:02:51

You did the right thing.

I hope it works out, op.

Feelingdownthismorn Sun 20-Jul-14 07:04:44

Yes, you absolutely did the right thing!
This was very difficult reading for me as my own upbringing makes me able to fill in the gaps. Parents like this will deny to the end that they are doing anything wrong that it's all in their childrens minds. Please keep an eye on the family and don't be worried to ring again if you think nothing is being done.
Well done!

scarletforya Sun 20-Jul-14 07:08:22

Good for you Op. Poor children.

sewingandcakes Sun 20-Jul-14 07:29:27

You did the right thing OP. Poor children. The father sounds very controlling and emotionally abusive. I hope there's a way out of this for the children. How is the mother of the children; is she in a dangerous situation do you think?

Saymwa Sun 20-Jul-14 07:33:33

I think you have been very brave.

Part of a parent's role is to protect children - as these children have not been getting the protection they need in their home, you have met that need.

I suggest that you also protect yourself and , if possible, aim to not let the relative find out it was you who alerted SS.

But , I think you have made a very good decision - Well done !

Ratbagcatbag Sun 20-Jul-14 07:36:53

With feeling down on this. My dad was like this and if this is the bit you are seeing there is much much more youre not. My private diary was read, contact with boys resulted in a beating. I wasn't allowed a boyfriend (which I just find desparately sad now as I missed out on a normal fun part of growing up) I learnt to be an excellent liar and could front out any situation with my parents.

I'm now no contact with my dad, have been for 15 years and will never see the bastard ever again, I wish someone had stuck up for me. Well done op.

Feelingdownthismorn - thank you for sharing your experience, your comment makes me much more confident that I did the right thing, and so sorry that something similar happened to you too.

sewingandcakes - I can only speculate that the mother may have been worn down and just goes along with him to keep the peace. I don't think she's in a dangerous situation, and hope things don't escalate. However, I'm nevertheless disappointed that she supports his behaviour.

Ratbagcatbag - I keep thinking that she'll be 16 in 3 years and could leave home. Then I think why should she have to endure this for another 3 years, and what will her mental health be like by then?! So sorry to hear about your treatment, but so pleased that you found the strength to cut ties with your father.

Misfitless Sun 20-Jul-14 08:35:39

OP, you did the right thing.

And remember, you didn't actually report them (though everybody would understand if you had,) you sought advice which in turn resulted in a charity deeming the parents' parenting so inappropriate that they took it out of your hands.

I expect that the parents' will see this as splitting hairs, though.

The schools response was truly shocking. They failed the teenage girl, thank goodness you didn't.

Their safe guarding officer needs re-training!

Keep us posted if you can.

Misfitless - Many thanks for your comment, I'll definitely mention the schools response to SS when I contact them this coming week.

I'll also keep people posted, and just hope nothing too drastic happens in the meantime, that's my greatest worry at the moment.

All the comments so far have been really reassuring, thanks to everybody again!

evalyn Mon 21-Jul-14 10:02:01

Just adding; yes, certainly you did the right thing. A really difficult thing to do, we all know ... so all the more praiseworthy that you did it. I wish there were more courageous people like you about.

None of us really know what goes on behind closed doors so what you have heard and seen is probably the tip of the iceberg. I don't doubt you did the right thing and if other family members ever find out and don't support you then they are guilty of neglect too.

I hope the girls' lives improved very soon.

magimedi Mon 21-Jul-14 10:14:25

Well done, Sally. You were brave & quite right to do what you did.

Hadmeathello Mon 21-Jul-14 10:18:11

You absolutely did the right thing. Well done.

Social Services have been in touch with my relatives. Thank you everyone for your supportive comments.

I rang the school and they said that they are obliged to contact the parents if an allegation of abuse has been made, as well as refer it to SS. So in the space of a week, there have been 2 referrals made to SS. I will, however, mention the schools' actions, and the subsequent consequences for the child to SS.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, my relatives' reaction to SS becoming involved is to attempt to get family members pitted against each other, and have started a blame game. Yet, at no point have they accepted any responsibility, or thought it prudent to be concerned as to why their child found it necessary to confide in someone at school. This is itself speaks volumes to me.

What a mess...

MiaSparrow Tue 22-Jul-14 07:05:19

Oh my God! YES. Well done OP.

I had a best friend when I was about six whose father had some very peculiar ideas about discipline. I remember sleepovers at hers where I was left alone in her bedroom while he took her off to the bathroom next door and I would hear the screams. She'd get a leather slipper on the bum for every fingernail she'd bitten. Sadly, now in her 30s this girl is a horror apparently, who has turned into a bully herself.

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