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What would you do if your friend regularly left her young family home alone?

(44 Posts)
InAPredicament Thu 05-Mar-09 14:03:58

I don´t know what to do, someone I know regularly leaves her 2 year old and 4 year old home alone while she goes out, as far as I know not longer than around an hour. I´m appauled. She´s knows she shouldn´t do it but does anyway. To put it in context she has ongoing mental health issues and clearly has problems coping. We live abroad which doesn´t make things easier. Her eldest is in school, the youngest in nursery half days and she doesn´t work.

What would you do, if anything? Various people have told her she should not be doing this.

GypsyMoth Thu 05-Mar-09 14:05:25

Which country as it's not illegal in the uk?

InAPredicament Thu 05-Mar-09 14:06:23

It is illegal though isn´t it?! For as long as the children are clearly not able to take care of themselves even if there is no age on it..

HecatesTwopenceworth Thu 05-Mar-09 14:06:24

Can you help her? Can you talk to her and say how concerned you are? Can you find out details of groups that can help her?

But, at the end of the day, she is doing something dangerous. And you should consider informing someone so they can help her. hv? gp? someone needs to know.

InAPredicament Thu 05-Mar-09 14:08:10

Informing the children´s doctor is a possibility...

cory Thu 05-Mar-09 14:09:24

It is not illegal as such, but if anything happened to such young children she would almost certainly be deemed to have been negligent. I think you need to have a word.

mumof2222222222222222boys Thu 05-Mar-09 14:10:01

What about stories like this....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/coventry_warwickshire/7926167.stm

PortAndLemon Thu 05-Mar-09 14:10:30

When you say "we're" abroad, do you mean both you and she are abroad or that you're abroad and she's in the UK?

Yurtgirl Thu 05-Mar-09 14:11:04

Ilovetiffany - what makes you say it isnt illegal to do this in the UK - It is surely

Inapredicament - can you report her to the equivalent of Social services in your country? It sounds heavy I know but if people have suggested to her this isnt a good idea then maybe its time to take things a step further

Before something terrible happens to the children

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 05-Mar-09 14:11:25

It is illegal yes, but there not set laws that say "you must not leave a child under the x for longer than x amount of time" but it comes under the child neglect and endangerment laws.

I wouldn't report but I'd have a chat with her. Are you sure she leaves them alone for that length of time? There is no one else in the house?

Is she getting help for gher illness? If so contact her key worker/social worker.

InAPredicament Thu 05-Mar-09 14:15:46

Thanks all. We live in the same town, abroad. She doesn´t hide the fact that she leaves them and will visit friends and admit they are home alone. A number of people have told her this is dangerous and wrong... There´s definitely nobody else around, her dh works long hours.

I don´t know who she sees re her mental health problems, only who the children´s doctor is. Reporting this to to the doctor or social services is not an easy thing to do though is it..

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 05-Mar-09 14:17:50

Does her DH know what she does? I'd think he would be your first port of call. Providing he is supportive of her getting better and you have no reason to believe that he is violent/controlling?

Yurtgirl Thu 05-Mar-09 14:19:20

Does she leave them alone having a sleep or wide awake and playing?

I would be very concerned that something might happen to them before I reported it if this were me - 2 and 4 is very little to be home alone, not old enough to use the telephone and open the front door even

Tamarto Thu 05-Mar-09 14:20:50

Better than the alternatives though, wouldn't you say?

If she has been told how dangerous and wrong it is yet carries on, i'd inform someone official, i couldn't live with myself if something bad did happen.

blinks Thu 05-Mar-09 14:21:29

does her DH know she does it?

i'd have to report it personally.

you can't just knowingly leave it...

Lulumama Thu 05-Mar-09 14:22:44

the fact she is being blatant about it makes me think this is a loud cry for help

does her husband know?

a 2 & 4 year old home alone for up to an hour are in danger, and a danger to themselves

InAPredicament Thu 05-Mar-09 14:26:15

Someone has already informed her dh, I don´t know how he took it, don´t know him at all really and think he is at his wits end with her health problems.

She leaves them watching tv, drawing, etc..

Maybe I should also just tell her dh directly of my concerns, that I am also aware that she does this..

What would be the consequences if I informed social services? I really fesr that the family would never recover from this. It´s a small expat community and they are permanent residents here.

cestlavie Thu 05-Mar-09 14:27:26

Whilst I'd always be against interfering in this case I'd honestly say you have no choice - they are by any reckoning too young to be left alone by themselves and at these ages there is a real risk that harm could come to them, be it something as simple as something like slipping off a stool.

You have a responsibility to your friend for sure, but I'd say that's far outweighed by the responsibility to the children in this instance.

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 05-Mar-09 14:27:42

Faced with this situation I think I would probably call around in the evening when you know her dh is there (even set up the meeting in advance as long as it's soon) and ask if you could have a word with them and then just sit down and explain calmly that you are really concerned about her and the dc.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Decide in advance what your response will be to their reactions ie are you prepared to report it if they don't seem concerned? If so, I would tell them that. Or maybe you should tell them that others are concerned - it's really difficult knowing how to play this!

I know that sounds terribly interfering and do-gooding but I think it is better to confront them honestly and openly rather than behind their backs.

4 and 2 is terribly young for them to be alone.

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 05-Mar-09 14:29:27

Oh sorry - I see the dh does already know.

Why isn't he doing more about it I wonder?

Surely nothing punitive would happen to her if she has genuine mental health problems - she is ill and needs help.

Rhubarb Thu 05-Mar-09 14:31:39

Ok, so her dh knows, but she still does it.

I don't think you are interfering and I'm sorry for this woman's mental health problems, but the children must come first. If her dh was that bothered he would have sorted something out.

You need to call Social Services. You'd never forgive yourself if anything happened to them.

A mother has just been found guilty of causing her daughter's death by leaving her alone in her room for 3 hours. The girl was 22 months old and when a fire broke out in her bedroom, she couldn't get out and there was no-one there to dial 999.

One day, the inevitable accident will happen and then you would have to live with the fact that you could have prevented it, but didn't.

Their safety is more important than whatever problems she has.

solidgoldbrass Thu 05-Mar-09 14:33:50

If her DH knows this is happening, why is he doing nothing? Has he got mental health issues too, or does he just think that it's her job to take care of the children?
You could try telling him that unless he takes some responsibility for the children's welfare, you are going to report the family.

Tamarto Thu 05-Mar-09 14:33:57

FFS they are not even sleeping and people think maybe softly softly is the way to go? hmm

They know what she does, she and him have already been told it's not a good idea but yet she carries on.

Of course it's time to take it further.

Who cares if thweir family will never recover, do you think they will recover if something happens to the kids while they are alone?

cestlavie Thu 05-Mar-09 14:36:04

SGB speaks sense. If her DH knows this is happening and isn't stopping it then he needs to take responsibility, particularly if her health problems stop her doing so.

ingles2 Thu 05-Mar-09 14:36:07

I wouldn't give it a second thought InaP. I'd be on the phone to all the appropriate bodies immediately.
I wouldn't even try talking to the DH, phone SS now!

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