"Daddy hits Mummy" What (if anything) should I do?

(58 Posts)
BestestBrownies Thu 03-May-12 16:21:46

Hi Mumsnetters

This is my first posting, so forgive me if I'm not up on all the slang etc. My dilemma is this....

I'm a nanny and have been caring for a 5yo girl after school for around 4 months. Two days ago (Tuesday), she told me that "Daddy hits Mummy. He shouts at her a lot, and he pushes her and makes her cry. He shouts at me a lot as well."

This came out of leftfield whilst the two of us were alone and she was eating dinner. We were talking about babies and I was telling her about a pregnant friend who has a baby boy in her tummy. She went a bit quiet and said that she wished it was a girl because "Boys aren't very nice". Of course, I dismissed this comment as normal girls-are-better-than-boys talk, but then she came straight out with the worrying part about Daddy hitting Mummy.

Do I have a quiet word with the Mum? Do I just ignore it completely as none of my business? I just don't know what's the right thing to do. I haven't been able to sleep properly the last two nights for thinking about this.

I've had conflicting advice from my mum, sister and DH on what would be the best course of action to take, so I'm hoping that someone who has found themselves in a similar situation might share how they handled it and what the outcome was please.

CherryBlossom27 Thu 03-May-12 17:22:48

I can understand that you don't want to report it in case there isn't anything to report, but, this isn't just something that you suspect, the little girl told you what is happening.

I would contact the NSPCC and ask to report it anonymously, and if they need your details for whatever reason, then so be it. If a child is at risk, she needs to be put first.

VerityClinch Thu 03-May-12 17:30:14

I once told my nursery carer "Daddy hit mummy with a stick and went down the pub". I was 4.

In actual fact they had been play fighting with breadsticks and then my mum sent my dad to the off licence for some wine.

Nursery people knew my family very well (they were both teachers locally) but still intervened very swiftly.

Luckily my mum fell about laughing.

In all seriousness Social Services WILL be able to judge correctly between "a stick" and "breadsticks".

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Thu 03-May-12 17:33:39

If the child is witnessing DV she is being abused.

I was that child when I was younger. I witnessed my mum being strangled by her partner amongst other things and to me it was normalsad the fact that the child is matter of fact about it shouldn't be dismissed.

IWantMyHatBack Thu 03-May-12 17:38:38

At the very least you need to ring NSPCC and ask their advice. I'd do that before speaking to the Mother tbh so you have all the right information.

If there is nothing going on then SS won't do anything. You HAVE to err on the side of caution here, and you are legally obliged to report it. You would be negligent not to.

Scaredycat3000 Thu 03-May-12 17:41:14

My sister, as a toddler, was sat in her high chair eating with Mum and her parents. She suddenly says out of the blue 'Daddy hits Mummy' and carries on eating. It was not true. So yes you're right, she may have just randomly said it, or it could be true. I think your plan to speak to her Mum is a good start.

MsGee Thu 03-May-12 17:41:14

I don't understand your reticence to report. A child has disclosed something of concern to you. As people have said - a child witnessing DA is bring abused. Why put the mother in a difficult position - if this is her life what really do you think she'll say to you?

Report it. It's your professional duty.

member Thu 03-May-12 17:41:38

I don't think you should talk to either of the parents about this tbh (or instigate any conversations about this with the child), refer it on via a confidential helpline OR voice your concerns to the relevant safeguarding person at school for them to pass on.

It may or may not be true but I'd say that you should be placing the welfare of this child ABOVE that of the parents & report.

Out of interest, if the child had said one of her parents had hit her , what would be your reaction?

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 03-May-12 17:49:51

I think I'd talk with the Mum and possibly call NSPCC for advice.

Good luck Brownies

CurrySpice Thu 03-May-12 17:49:54

I'm not sure who you should report it to but I know for a fact that doing nothing is not an option. You must act.

I think if you talk to the mother she will deny / deflect.

amillionyears Thu 03-May-12 17:57:28

Is there something in your own background that is stopping you reporting it?

kohl Thu 03-May-12 22:03:34

I'm sorry to give conflicting advice to others, but when I told someone and they went to my mother to ask her what was going on, she flatly denied it and then she made sure I was so thoroughly terrified by what would happen to me and backed that up with punishment that I wouldn't even think of telling anyone for another 10 years. So I would say exercise extreme caution before telling her mother.
This child sounds matter of fact because to her it is the way the world is. As a 5 year old, how are you supposed to know that violence isn't acceptable at home?

It is a really difficult position to be in, and I do feel for you OP.

Rubirosa Thu 03-May-12 22:09:27

I work with children too, and our procedure in this situation would firstly to talk to the mother (unless you believe that doing so would put the child at risk) and let her know that you feel you need to pass on the concern. Then speak to your local safeguarding person at the council or social services.

BestestBrownies Thu 03-May-12 22:42:07

OK, so I called the NSPCC Helpline for some advice and after speaking to them, have decided to report it anonymously through their online form.

I am legally obliged to report it as some on here pointed out, but this way I'm still able to remain in the child's support network for as long as she needs me/is practical for her Mum, depending on the outcome of the SS investigation and what Mum decides to do. By choosing me over all the other adults in her life as the one person to tell, I can't betray her trust by compromising my ability to be there for her now, when she'll need me the most.

I won't speak to the Mum tomorrow as I initially planned. If there is DV going on, I don't know the extent of it or how afraid she might be of him/how she might react. Plus, if he is a violent, controlling bully with no repect for women (as all male perpetrators of DV are), then I don't want him finding out it was me.

I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks to everyone for the advice, it has helped me come to a sensible decision I think.

poshme Thu 03-May-12 23:01:55

OP you have done the right thing. You know you have. Well done- it's always hard when dealing with safeguarding issues. Take care of yourself and DON'T feel guilty whatever happens.
Children need adults to do the right thing. You have.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 03-May-12 23:02:57

Well done OP, you've done the right thing. I hope things work out for the child and her mum.

kohl Thu 03-May-12 23:04:40

Well done OP, I don't imagine this decision is easy.

ToothbrushThief Thu 03-May-12 23:15:10

Sounds like a very considered and good decision OP

Sarcalogos Thu 03-May-12 23:19:28

Well done, best course of action chosen.

TheHouseOnTheCorner Thu 03-May-12 23:27:25

She has spoken to you as an adult she trusts...in your position you ought to inform SS. YOU ae her protector as he parents are not n a position to look after her needs. The Mother because she is being abused and the Father because he is the abuser. PLEASE report.

TheHouseOnTheCorner Thu 03-May-12 23:28:21

Oh I see you have. Good. Poor little thing. Thank God she trusted you.

Yes well done OP. I did some child protection training a couple of weeks ago and wanted to pass along 2 things to you in this difficult situation in case it can be of any help:

1. Don't ever promise the poor little girl that "you won't tell anyone" or that you will keep something secret. As the person she chose to disclose to, it's obvious that she trusts you, and you want to keep it that way. I know you already know this!

2. Your role in this situation is not to be the investigator. Up-thread you said something about "you don't want to report if you're wrong." With all due respect, you need to leave the investigations and determination of "truth" to the people trained to do these investigations (SS, police). Hopefully the helpline that you rang made this clear.

I also just thought of a 3. If the girl brings it up again, be careful not to ask any "leading questions" because any information gathered in this way might not be able to be used later in court.

God willing that the girl and her mum get the help that they need and thank goodness they have you as their nanny looking out for them.

Well done again Bestest

amillionyears Fri 04-May-12 10:19:00

Well done Bestest for reporting it. I think the NSPCC gave you very good advice.My DD works in a childcare setting, but has people she is able to report these issues to.Being a nanny, if you are not part of an agency, must make these sorts of things harder to deal with.

Blu Fri 04-May-12 10:25:15

I'm pleased you have had professional advice that you are confident to follow.

I realise i was giving a different view....which I take as a reminder to myself that the best advice we can get on some of these threads is to seek advice form the relevant professional agencies.

Wishing you strength and good luck - I hope it all goes well and the child and her Mum get support to be free of this situation.

ifeelloved Fri 04-May-12 10:29:59

I used to nanny for a family where i suspected some kind of spousal abuse. I stupidly didn't involve ss and I regret it. I was too stupid and naive to do anything but god I wish I did.

I think you've made the right decision, if nothing's wrong then all will be fine, but I've never forgiven myself for walking away from that family

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