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Worry about step kids welfare, please advise?

(6 Posts)
RocketSalad Thu 09-May-13 13:15:18

I am worried about my DP's children.

Firstly, the eldest child often arrives late for school. Not 5 minutes but entire lessons and sometimes half days. This was suspected initially (as his ex been seen walking to school very late, plus he made mention a couple of times about being late) but confirmed by the school today after phone call.

My DP has twice witnessed his ex dragging youngest (3) by the hood of his coat in through the door of the house to prevent him going out into the garden.

The first hour or so the children spend with us (although obviously happy to see their daddy) they are quiet and withdrawn. They then relax as time moves on and remember to have fun. If however, they do something they perceive to be naughty (children aren't naughty in my book) they are clearly worried (extreme reactions of crying, wetting pants) until they realise it is not a problem. I know kids (I have 4 boys) are often covered in bruises and cuts but theirs never appear to be synonymous with the story of how they got them. For instance, 3 cuts on back of eldest, claims to have fallen over on his bottom in school playground. Really, there would be nothing that could have caused those cuts in a 4+ playground plus no accident report from the school. Similar cuts on hand had 4 separate stories attached to it. And still bearing in mind kids make things up and get bruised and cut through every day play..

Other things have come back to either my DP or me through the grapevine. One man, a friend of DP's ex's sister's boyfriend (work that out) claimed to have woken up with the youngest (3) in bed with him after DP's ex, sister, sister's boyfriend and him all got very drunk one night. DP's ex had left without her boys to go home (drunk), leaving them in care of her sister, sisters bf and friend. No proof of this one but indicative of the kind of stories we are both hearing.

I have no experience with social services but feel that intervention (at least some investigation) is warranted. Thoughts everyone please. I don't want to be the snitching step mum but two very important little boys in this.

If this gets reported what can we expect to happen and how?

NotaDisneyMum Sat 11-May-13 08:53:48

If you have noticed these things, so have others; what is the school doing about lateness and injuries? Has your DP met with the school - has he raised his concerns with them?

My own experience of SServices is that they won't do anything based on what you have said in your OP - but it's still worth reporting so that if/when something more significant happens, it can be dealt with in the wider context.

Fairy130389 Tue 14-May-13 19:02:57

Agree with disney about the school. I would be encouraging DP to speak with the school - if there are concerns about behaviours, lateness etc they will have noted them. Find out if they have first and foremost. I would also be documenting any time you see bruising and the explanation. That way you can note any patterns and also will have a record which is a bit more concrete.

I take it the relationship with ex is not amicable? Can DP have a word (ridiculously optimistic I know but had to check!!)

Again agree with Disney - think it is unlikely SS will act, particularly because at this stage it seems to be mostly hearsay...

I would be documenting and recording EVERYTHING, trying the gentle approach with mum, and involving the school. At the very least you can let them know you are concerned so they can monitor it, they are actually the best people since they see them every day.

I wasn't around when DSD's ex had custody but I know DH had some concerns then, around low(ish) level neglect mostly when DSD was a baby and SS got the health visitor involved but essentially said that it was just 'different standards' of parenting and not a lot they can do.

Sorry - that was a bit garbled - my brain is not playing the game tonight!

Best of luck, not an easy one I know.

Fantaforever Tue 14-May-13 20:49:29

Oh Gosh, that sounds terrible. I don't really have any advice to offer apart from that I do agree with the other posters: have a word with the school and definitely start to keep a diary of all the incidents/injuries. I'm sorry that you're going through this, it must be very worrying.

mumandboys123 Tue 14-May-13 20:58:00

there is a very real need to be careful. I had a 'concerning episode' with my ex a couple of years ago: my eldest had scratches in the small of his back and several bruises (large ones, in my opinion). I couldn't make head nor tail of it and was concerned as to what could be going on at dad's house because that seemed to be the only solution.

By chance, I saw my son and his friends playing a game of 'stuff holly leaves from the garden neighbouring the school down the back of the pants of your classmates and kill yourself laughing'. Had I not caught that game one morning, I would still be wondering now!

All children get bruises. The school is not able to monitor every scuffle, falling over, incident of hitting etc. that goes on between children in their care. Some children may never bother to report what has happened to them even if they were quite badly hurt. So no accident report from the school isn't necessarily a red light to assuming every bruise has been caused by mum, either directly or indirectly.

As for getting drunk, how do you know she didn't ask her sister etc. to look after the children because she realised she was worse for wear and that they would be better off that evening? Is she not allowed a social life or allowed to make a mistake with alcohol? Wouldn't it have been worse to care for the children whilst in some kind of drunken stupor? The children and other people may well have seen it as her abandonning her children, but she may well have done what she needed to do to ensure they were OK. How could you prove otherwise? Who's to say just how drunk everyone involved was? Do you never drink when you have your children in your care?

dragging by the hood or catching an escaping child before he runs down the driveway and straight out onto the road?

It could be something, it could be nothing, but as you describe it, it's not enough for Social Services to be concerned except for the absences from school. If these are a real issue then presumably educational welfare will get involved and your husband should make it very clear that he is to be kept in the loop. I would do my best to make sure that he is seen to be supportive of mum with a desire to work in the best interests of the children, rather than bounce on in there with the 'they're better off with me' attitude. They may well be, but neglect will have to be proven before a court/judge/social services would support a change in residence.

Jan45 Thu 16-May-13 16:11:03

Sorry but based on what you have said I would not be contacting Social Services, it's your call at the end of the day but what I have read doesn't scream child abuse. Perhaps the kids are nervous in your home as you are not their mum hence the worried what you will say or give them a row. Grabbing the kid's hood hardly sounds like abuse, same for the cuts and bruises, they are kids, do you really think the mother is beating them? I would be very careful with what you report as you don't appear to have any hard facts or evidence.

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