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I need advice on how to help my niece she is going off the rails and no-one has noticed! (long sorry)

(62 Posts)
NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 13:03:24

Ok the background, my niece is 13yo (soon to be 14) she has a terrible relationship with her parents and I am not close to them (there is a very big age gap). Recently her mother reacted in shock when I told her that it was against the law to smack or physically punish a child her words were "good job you told me" TBH I was too shocked to react.

DN is going through a tough teenge time, she walks out of school at will, stays up untill midnight on school nights and generally will not accept any authority at all. DSis has been going through a tough time for years, she has never engaged with her dc and never really cared much, she openly admits she wishes she had never had them (in front of them) and has days where she "can't be bothered to feed them" and so on. As they are older now they tend to fend for themselves.

SO, I have been aware of problems for a while and have tried again and again to get her mother to see it but she cannot seem to get the energy together to care and I am at a loss as to how to help given that her mother is not going to do anything other than scream at her...Her mother is also convinced DN is very innocent and does not really understand the outside world. hmm

Problem 1; She is on Bebo, I know that she has friends on bebo that are adult and that she adds and chats to people who approach her - people she does not know at all, complete strangers.

Problem 2; she goes to nightclubs with friends, some her own age but I suspect also with her older friends too.

Problem 3; drinks, vodka and the like.

Problem 4; stays at friends houses and goes out drinking etc until 3 or 4 am.

Problem 5; her facebook is full of pictures of her posing in model type poses, including pics of her in her underwear - see through camis and thongs etc. The privacy settings allow friends of friends to see her photos (ie around 30,000 or more people)

Problem 6; when she is up late at night she is on networking sites and messenger with a webcam in a seperate room by herself, no-one checks on her at all. I know that some of her older friends have asked her to "pose" for them... I have no idea what else they have asked her to do or whether she has done what they asked. SHe is proud of and flattered by the attention.

Most of the above I have found out from my own teenage daughter and DN posts on facebook. I don't have a strong relationship with her as we have never lived close and I suspect it is too late to start one up now. I am nervous of getting my daughter involved, dd told dn how silly she was for accepting friend requests from people she did not know on bebo and got a serious dressing down from DN.

The problem is that her mother thinks she is innocent, doesn't drink, does not really "get" sex and also refuses to see any risk in sites like bebo and facebook, I have told her the statistics of people getting targeted on bebo and so on but she "doesn't buy it". Her mother does not go online and has no clue at all how these sites work.

What on earth can I do to help DN, how can I approach it? I know she is already half a step away from running away all-together and goodness knows where she would end up then! Sorry this is so long I am just at my wits end to know how to help when the parents are not willing/able to help too!

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 14:31:11

Oooh - am I the first to answer?

Only got through 1st para - it's not illegal to smack: the law says you mustn't leave a mark.

Not saying it's right esp in a child of this age, but it's not illegal.

Will read the rest now.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 14:35:58

From what little I know, I would say the mother and the daughter need family therapy.

I would hazard a guess that the mother's emotional neglect has left the daughter with attachment issues and she is seeking comfort - love really - elsewhere, in very unsuitable and possibly dangerous places.

Would there be any way of persuading your sister to seek help, for both their sakes?

Tortington Wed 28-Oct-09 14:39:22

i think it all depends on what you are willing to risk with regards your relatinship with your sister. I think these things need bringing to her attention

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 14:42:03

Thanks Clive, WRT the law, judging by her surprise leaving a mark is the least of the worries...

I honestly doubt she will get help. She just seems to be bideing her time until they leave home TBH. She talks about how great it will be to go out and find love once they have gone because she has never really been loved before in front of them too...I just don't think there will be any help coming from her parents, her mum will ignore it and her dad really would go nuts at her - especially if he ever saw the photos. A new set have been posted today, bustiers, panties and hold ups in high heels... we are talking full on adult photos but she is only 13 sad

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 14:44:35

Health visitor/social services?

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 14:45:51

Hi Custy, I am not worried about my relationship with her tbh we are not close and I actually feel that DN is putting herself in danger - which has to be the priority here.

WRT bringing it to her attention, when I found out about the bebo stuff I sat sis down and told her all about it, what she wsa doing, what the site is like, some stats about it and so on, sis said "oh she doesn't go on there any more" later that night DN was sat next to me on Bebo (on the laptop) so I said "Oh, DN is that bebo? I wanted to show DSis something on it" "Yes, here" so I go to show sis who sighed and rolled her eyes at me....

She seems to refuse to understand and (at the risk of being a bitch) seems to want to avoid getting it - understanding would mean taking action.

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 14:48:05

Clive, I thought HV only stayed until they are 5?

I have thought about SS but, tbh there is no actual neglect here as such...I just think they would not really be able to do much that wouldhelp IYSWIM?

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 14:50:41

But if the child is in danger - and it is neglect: emotional neglect. She is being allowed to put herself into dangerous situations and she is a minor; her mother is supposed to be protecting her.

The mother sounds as if she has pretty big issues and needs help too, but as you say it's the 13 yo posing semi naked on the internet which is more pressing.

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 14:56:06

I know it is neglectful parenting, I agree wholeheartedly with that. I just don't think SS will help, if SS had buckets of time then they could come in and explain the risks to DSis, tell her what to look out for and how to keep DN safe then it would be great but they won't. If they come in at all (which they may not) it will be more "DN is doing xyandz and she shouldn't be, you need to keep an eye on her" and off they will pop leaving two parents who are ill-equipped to deal with the situation...

I honestly think her dad would clout her and her mum would scream at her and I also think that she would just walk out at that stage - I am sure she will have lots of offers of a place to stay from her FB and Bebo friends - and that really scares me.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:00:40

I know what you mean, but tbh I think the whole situation is beyond what any well-meaning family member can rectify. ime all that happens is that the family members fall out with each other if someone tries to 'help' another's child. I think they all need professional help.

What about having a word with her teacher? Does her school have anyone assigned to 'guidance' or similar?

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 15:04:24

She doesn't have any respect for teachers, she walks out of school alltogether if they say things to her like "DN can I have your homework please?"

It really is a mess, I just cannot think of anyone who is placed well enough to help them.

mathanxiety Wed 28-Oct-09 15:15:51

She is looking for attention and any kind will do. She is in great danger of being exploited and badly hurt. If the mum can't be bothered to feed the children sometimes, and they fend for themselves, then she's being physically neglected as well as the very obvious emotional neglect. I would second the advice to go through her school -- if there's a social worker or counselor there. They are obliged to report situations to social services too, no? Otherwise, I'd go to social services yourself. This girl is in danger. The family all needs help. You should risk POing your sister and act like the adult there -- she and her H clearly are not.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:18:39

I didn't mean for the teacher to have a word with her - I meant to try to bring it to the attention of someone charged with her care - be it her GP, health visitor (they go round bandaging old ladies legs don't they - it's not just weighing babies!), the school or social services.

The girl needs more than someone just having a word with her - I would guess she needs counselling at the very least.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:19:27

x post with math - agree.

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 15:28:09

t this time I don't think counselling will do anything, she has no idea wht she is doing is wrong in any way - bear in mind that her peers are there doing it with her, to her it is normal and reasonable. Conselling takes time to have an effect and, whilst it may help long term, it will not help her right now when she needs it.

I am still not convinced SS is the way to go, yes it is terrible that she decides not to bother feeding them - but there is always food in and they are plenty old enough to feed themselves so SS will not be at all interested in that. I honestly don't see what they can or will do to be any real help.

As I said I am not bothered about my Sis's feelings here, DN is much more important right now.

Jujubean77 Wed 28-Oct-09 15:30:08

good lord bustiers and stockings pics on Facebook wtf is she doing? shock

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 15:34:28

I know sad

Worse, a bit of snooping shows that these were the photos of her and her friend before they went out last night, they did nightclubs in hold ups hot pants and bustiers. Pretty normal for 18yo not so good for a 13yo is it? sad

kingbeat23 Wed 28-Oct-09 15:35:15

I agree with all of the above advice. It seems like the only person who is being the adult here is you. You say that you dont have a very close relationship with DSis anyway, but feel a responsibility that something should be done, and it it should.

This is classic attention seeking, and it seems that she has learnt that any attention is some attention, even if it is negative, a very bad place to be in.

Social networking sites and the like are a minefield if you dont know how to use them, no more so than for a teenage girl with issued such as hers.

What would you rather, to get SS involved and have them tell you that everything is ok, or for something to happen and you feel guilty that you could have done something to help. Im sorry if you or anyone else finds this statement emotional balckmail on my part to you, but you are disturbed enough to post it here and we are disturbed enough to agree with you.

doingthelambethwalk Wed 28-Oct-09 15:40:03

If you live in a small town you could circulate the photo around the clubs explaining she is so much underage? I seem to remember friends' parents doing this at school!

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:44:46

Counselling wouldn't be to point out what she's doing wrong - it would be to help her with the emotional issues she has, and which have led her to behave in this way. But yes, she would need to be willing to be helped.

Like her mother, I think the behaviour is a symptom, not the problem itself.

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 15:45:22

No kingbeat, I don't think it is blackmail, I just don't think they will be able to help at all. The chances are they will sya there is nothing they can do to help and leave.

Of course that does not mean that everything is ok, even if SS said it was I would still have the same concerns, ok in SS eyes is not the same as actually being OK I am afraid.

I am not saying I don't want to do anything, I very much want to do something but I don't think SS is the right thing, I don't believe they will help her.

Lambethwalk, that is not a bad idea, I am not sure where she is going out (they are a small town near a big town) but I could probably find that would address one of the issues at least.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:47:41

How do you know SS won't/can't help until you tell them?

Put very bluntly - you know of a child in danger. Pass this information on to the relevant people.

NoNameNameyChangey Wed 28-Oct-09 15:48:00

I agree Clive, I just want to be able to help her now as well as in the future IYSWIM. I agree that counselling would be a great thing for all of them going forward but it is not quick enough for the problem that is here and now IYSWIM.

ClivetheCatfish Wed 28-Oct-09 15:49:44

No well meaning talk from an auntie will fix years of emotional and/or physical neglect. And that's just what you know about. There could be umpteen things in this child's life that have led her to this point.

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