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I am worried about my niece

(22 Posts)
UpsideDownBackToFront Fri 21-Aug-09 19:10:52

I have namechanged. I'm a far too regular MNer. Lisad/Misdee/SGK sisters, JF/W&R, Bunnygate, Narniagate, Mouldies, red rugs, Lavenderrrrrrr etc

I do apologise for the length of this and for including what looks like a lot of unnecessary information but I don't know how much might be relevant or what might become relevant iyswim. I will be as brief as I can.

My dn is my SIL's dd from a previous relationship. She was 6 when my db and SIL met and has been adopted by my db. The first couple of years of her life were spent in a psychiatric unit or with (very very strict) grandparents due to SIL having a complete breakdown.

SIL does not like children. She is very vocal about this around dn and always has been. Says she hates children and wishes she had never had her. DN's basic physical needs have always been met. Emotional needs not at all. SIL cannot tolerate noise/playing, has never played with her dn to my knowledge and has only ever spoken to her in an adult way. It affords dn a level of precocity that's alarming. Language, levels of information, media, nothing moderated around her.

DN is smacked. A lot. I have yet to spend more than 15 minutes with them all without her being smacked or verbally put down.

DN is 9 now. She is extremely difficult: violent, wilfully disobedient, calculating, rude, unaware of danger or risk. For example, I had her to stay yesterday. We were playing, laughing, joking, having a good time and she turned round out of the blue and smacked me hard round the face. She then laughed and laughed. She was once left alone with dd (no more than a minute, dh went to answer the door), DN was found trying to encourage my dd (18 months at the time) out of a top floor window.

Before these holidays she was excluded from school 3 times in 3 weeks. One instance was jabbing a pencil into a teacher's hand, the other two hurting other children.

DB and BIL have got the GP to prescribe a medication to calm her down. It does that. She goes into a trance for hours, falls asleep for 12 hours and can't remember anything.

I am very, very worried about her. She is confused obviously, unhappy, struggling.

I got lots of information from a charity funded social services project that provides support/family counselling etc to children and their families where there are emotional difficulties. DB and SIL looked at the details and tore them up. Their answer now is to give her one of these tablets.

I'm desperate to help. I'm not blaming or accusing. SIL was poorly when she had her and it's been an uphill struggle but they have a dd who is crying out for help. She's getting stronger and her behaviour more reckless. I dropped her off last night and she was greeted with 'oh God you're back, bang goes the peace and quiet'. She kicked the dog, ran outside and started swallowing handfuls of gravel.

I don't know what to do. The whole thing's a mess but I don't know if I owe it to dn to try and do something.

Would social services help? Will they already be involved because of the school exclusions?

cocolepew Fri 21-Aug-09 19:15:09

Have you tried to speak to your DB or SIL? What do they say? It really looks like some kind of intervention is needed. Can you phone NSPCC for advice?

fannybanjo Fri 21-Aug-09 19:15:56

Good lord, the poor girl. I have no idea or any expertise in this field but if a child is emotionally neglected, surely Social Services should be alerted? Emotional neglect is very damaging, probably doing more damage than being smacked.

UpsideDownBackToFront Fri 21-Aug-09 19:22:27

They are very hard to talk to about it. My DB stays as far out of it as he can (which compounds the issue) but he clearly doesn't know what to do. SIL I find very hard to engage with when discussing DN. For example:

Me: DN seems very unhappy
SIL: She's a miserable sod what do you expect?
Me: Has the school suggested anything you could try? Do they offer any extra support [desperate to open up conversation]
SIL: Oh I don't know. Thank God for the GP and the medicine hey?

Conversation closed.

mankymummymoo Fri 21-Aug-09 19:26:42

Could you have her? Or her grandparents? anyone else?

UpsideDownBackToFront Fri 21-Aug-09 19:27:25

Yes the NSPCC. That I might look at.

I did leave out a vital piece of info. SIL had another child after DN that she had adopted as she couldn't cope. Meant to mention in OP. I am not supposed to know this. Does this assume that social services are involved anyway?

cocolepew Fri 21-Aug-09 19:29:18

Does your SIL still have mental health problems? Sorry I'm asking more questions than giving answers. If I were you I would try to talk to your DB, tell him how concerned you are and what can be done to improve the situation. If he wasn't prepared to help your DN I would speak to SS.

jeee Fri 21-Aug-09 19:31:45

It sounds to me as if the situation is so bad that it can't get any worse (sorry), and at least if you speak to social services, if they're not already involved, there's a slim chance things might get better.

cocolepew Fri 21-Aug-09 19:37:24

Actually if you went to the trouble of getting info. for them already, your DB prbably isn't interested in helping her. A sad situation.

domesticslattern Fri 21-Aug-09 19:47:19

Upside, you are doing a brave thing (and the right thing) by not simply standing by. You owe it to your SIL, DB, DN and (sorry) any kids which DN goes on to have, to step in.

Sounds like you know that and hence I am not really helping, but it's a matter of convincing them not to tear up the flyers. I'm not sure I have the answer but I guess it would usually be either an event which tipped them so far that the family as a whole realised that they couldn't go on like this, or you really pushing it for example by threatening to go to SS. If SS aren't already involved- hopefully someone will come along on that one.

My friend is a child psych. She usually treats the whole family as, as your OP clearly demonstrates, it's usually a family thing not just the child IYSWIM. As you would expect she doesn't tell me much about her clients, but your DN sounds like an obvious case. It would need a referral through the GP.

hannahsaunt Fri 21-Aug-09 20:08:02

Child psych would be good but it does mean the engagement of the whole family - sadly in the experience of dh's family within which there is a badly emotionally abused child psych was a waste of time as the father sent the child as he perceived the child to have the problem and refused to engage himself with the process as he didn't see / refused to accept that he had created the 'monster'. Do hope you can persuade them that there are options other than meds.

InTheseBeautifulPurpleShoes Fri 21-Aug-09 20:12:06

I wonder if it is worth approaching DNs school. Obviously, make them aware that you know that they can't breach any confidentialityetc, but making sure they are aware of the problems. In theory, since the Climbie report, schools are obliged to record concerns raised by anyone about a child and act accordingly. In the area I work in, we have something called CAF, the Common Assessment Framework, which means that anyone at all can raise the alarm regarding a child. It might be a path to investigate. Obviously they will be aware that your DN has problems but some family input might help?

amidaiwish Fri 21-Aug-09 20:25:22

nothing to add just wanted to voice my support and please don't give up. this kind of treatment can trickle on for generations.

amidaiwish Fri 21-Aug-09 20:26:13

can't believe the GP just gave out medication. do you think you could talk to him? he won't (be able to) say much, but he might listen.

UpsideDownBackToFront Fri 21-Aug-09 20:29:53

Sorry, bath and bed shennanigans called...

SIL is discharged completely from the psychiatric team though I think she's always going to be on that spectrum. She finds it difficult to get out of bed sometimes, can't tolerate noise, is very prone to letting things slide, struggles to maintain things without help. So yes, classic symptoms but deemed well enough by her CPN and consultant.

My DB is a tough one. He wanted to help at first and I believe he tried a bit (not enough at all imo) but it's 6 years of ingrained behaviour before they met and it needs proper professional help. I think because of SIL's past she is very, very good at hiding things and refusing input from outside. DB is very much ruled by her way of doing things and sort of sits there baffled but also snaps when it's bad, compounding the situation. It's like nobody's equipped to deal with it so what hope does the child have?

Thank you for all of this. Sorry if I don't respond individually. I am making notes.

I don't know who else is battling her corner. Her maternal grandparents are quite old and very strict with her. My parents have her two evenings a week and one weekend a month but couldn't manage more because of ill health. My Dad, liberal to a fault, an old hippy, never judges, said tonight that the best thing all round would be for ss to take her and find a better home for her. I know what he means. sad

I'm going to chat to dh with some of the information here and make a decision. I refuse to do nothing.

UpsideDownBackToFront Fri 21-Aug-09 20:36:09

I think the GP has seen her out of control. It's frightening. She utterly loses control.

simplesusan Fri 21-Aug-09 21:46:02

I was going to suggest what inthesebeautifulshoes has. I would approach the school, fill them in with the hitting, medication etc. It might prompt them to monitor your niece. Speak to your db again and tell him your concerns too. The school might not be aware of your nieces home life and might be able to refer her to a specialist, say someone who could look at how to express feelings without resorting to violence.
You are doing the right thing btw.

Sakura Sun 23-Aug-09 10:51:13

I think you should get involved, although naturally this will strain your relationship with your DB sad. Talking anonymously to the school sounds like a good idea and then perhaps the school can take it from there regarding social services and what have you. It would help you a lot if your brother didn`t find out you spoke to them, but if she has stabbed a teacher with a pencil then he and SIL might believe that the school has taken it upon themselves to take action.

Sakura Sun 23-Aug-09 10:53:09

Just to add I don`t think its ideal to be all secretive about this and go behind their backs but it sounds like the last thing your niece needs is for your brother and SIL to tell you to butt out. And if you do it all above board that is exactly what they will say.

elmofan Sun 23-Aug-09 11:15:06

oh your poor poor niece , i think its great that you want to help her , it seems like everyone else does not care what happens to her , it sounds like she is a very disturbed little girl ,sad
i don't think your sil or db will be happy with you for interfering but i hope you wont give up on your niece , good luck

Grandhighpoohba Sun 23-Aug-09 12:08:44

Phone social services. If she is this out of control now, her teenage years are going to be bad - possible offending behaviour and placing herself in danger, unless something is done now. You cannot make a 14 year old take medication, so problems will resurface. Drugging a child into submission is abuse. Physical abuse.

School only see her behaviour at school. GP only sees for ten minutes, and gets the rest of their info from the parents. You have seen the home situation, and you need to pass it on to the professionals who have the power to investigate and do something about it.

The outcome may not be wholy positive, as this child sounds very damaged. But there needs to be a professional assessment of this poor girl's situation.

jybay Sun 23-Aug-09 22:13:34

Talking to the GP is a good idea - she can hear your opinion though she can't of course tell you anything. I would also encourage you to ring social services.

Please don't believe your SIL's line about the GP just handing out medication though. For one thing, most drugs to control ADHD etc can only be prescribed under specialist guidance. I very much doubt your SIL is telling the whole truth.

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