AIBU to think about calling social services?

(56 Posts)
Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 10:47:41

Really not sure if I'm being over dramatic here or not. There's a big old house next to us that's divided into quite large flats. We are also in a flat in a house next door but both on the first floor. There are people living in this flat - I've only really seen the children, never the adults. I've seen at least three kids, a couple of whom look like they should be at school but I never see them leave the house. I'm not here all the time obviously and don't spend all the time that I am here looking out of the window so I could just be missing them.
The last two nights I've been woken up by the children crying and screaming and the sound of adults shouting. Not horrendously but the kids sound really distressed, it's goes on for quite a while and it's at 3 in the morning. Last night it was loud I got up and looked across - all the lights were on and by peeking through a side window (too much?) I could see two of the kids lying on the wooden floor of the lounge, I think having their nappies changed and them being covered with a blanket but the lights being left full on. I knew the family that lived there before and there are at least three or four large bedrooms and there were two sofas with nobody on them in the lounge. The kids seemed to be dressed too. The curtains are always closed in all the windows and it just doesn't feel right but I haven't seen anything really clear.

Sorry its a bit long but am I over reacting or should I call someone?

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 13:54:55

Socket - was that not uncomfortable? I must be getting old - need a proper mattress!

They've not been next door long, maybe a month? Guessing though as I never see them.

Isildur Wed 17-Jul-13 14:11:17

I don't think any of that sounds particularly odd.

My lot are found sleeping all over the place, particularly if they are ill, or if it's really hot, or if we have guests.

We have home-school, and I was thoroughly sick of having to explain to people that, no they were not meant to be at school.

One of ours can screech for Britain when being changed, or in fact when being sick, to the point where I worried more about the screaming than about whatever illness they were suffering from. And loud voices/shouting are the default here.

Mine are holy terrors for watching random neighbours from the windows too, and we are always pulling them up on it, because weird staring children do un-nerve people somewhat grin.

Unless you have something more to go on that what seems to be a suspicion of different parenting styles, I'd hold off on summoning social services.

Having them show up on your door-step isn't 'harmless if you have nothing to hide'. It leaves you feeling that you are being scrutinised, judged, and is horribly intrusive.

BramblyHedge Wed 17-Jul-13 14:19:43

Although I agree it doesn't sound great, one of the kids could be having night terrors. My son has these and can be screaming in his sleep things like " don't do it to me mummy. No mummy no" etc If I heard that from next door I would be very concerned ... but from my side of the wall I know he is asleep and it will pass in 15 mins. My husband and I might talk very loudly over him if trying to either calm him or deal with our other kids being woken up.

...but I am not there and this is only one possibility.

trapezegirl Wed 17-Jul-13 14:37:16

Please trust your instincts (you have them for a reason) and make a report.

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 14:47:50

I've called and spoken to a lovely social worker. I explained that there could be lots of explanations for what has happened and that I really wasn't sure but that in my heart I felt that something wasn't right.
She agreed that things seemed a little off so I think they are going to just check and see if they are known etc and maybe get back to me.
I feel better i think for having called. If there's nothing wrong then I would feel awful and I really don't want to upset the family for no reason or make them feel judged but I can't get it out of my head and I would be devastated if I did nothing and there was something going on.

Isildur - even if you home school surely you go out sometimes?

Really hope I am wrong about this though sad

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 14:49:33

I don't think any of that sounds particularly odd tbh. I spoke to someone else on MN the other day who says she never opens the windows as out keeps the house cooler apparently.

Ds was up all night last night and he is 12 so should be on school but isn't as he didn't settle down to sleep unhook early hours of this morning as it was so bloody hot.

I'd quite happily sleep on the floor-it's cooler!

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 14:49:47

In not on

RoooneyMara Wed 17-Jul-13 16:06:10

Thankyou for calling them. I am grateful to you because I'd have been very concerned about this otherwise and now I know that those in the know, are aware of it, and if something is going on that shouldn't be, then hopefully it will get sorted out.

You did the right thing.

fromparistoberlin Wed 17-Jul-13 17:03:19

yes, you should call them. better safe than sorry

I was reading about daniel pelka (bless his soul) and jesus, dod none iof the neighbours hear or see anything? clearly not

zoraqueenofzeep Wed 17-Jul-13 17:39:51

It doesn't help abused children to be lost in amongst thousands of reports of false allegations. Go over and introduce yourself, you might find that they have kids with disabilities, may be home educating and are not the abusive parents you've imagined in your fantasies (which is all your going on at the moment). My new neigbours have a child who screams all night, he's autistic, luckily for them nobody round here is crazy or nasty enough to waste time calling ss when we can knock on their door and get the facts.

They don't need the stress of your (probably wrong) assumptions causing them upheaval, if you call over and see a pair of drug addicts answer or very aggressive people then you can consider yourself justified in your concerns but at least have the decency to find out first.

zoraqueenofzeep Wed 17-Jul-13 17:41:55

Sorry just noticed your last post, hope your right, it will be horrible for loving parents to be invaded like that for no reason other than a neighbours paranoid fantasies.

FanjoForTheMammaries Wed 17-Jul-13 17:45:01

Hear hear. I wish you had approached them first.

My DD used to have night terrors and also scream a lot at night, eventually the upstairs landlord contacted us and mentioned her tenants had heard her, we could then explain about DD's issues and they were understanding. DH and I also shouted at each other a bit when she had the night terrors because we were so stressed out.

If they had just reported us to social services it would have opened up a horrible can of worms for us.

The sleeping on livingroom floor thing sounds odd but not abusive IMO.

FirstStopCafe Wed 17-Jul-13 17:45:26

I think you did the right thing by following your instincts

WeGotTheKrunk Wed 17-Jul-13 18:05:28

You did the right thing Simbaline. It might be that there's nothing untoward going on, in which case, no harm done. But if there is something amiss, you've done the kids a favour. It is known that some abusers move area frequently, often as a way of staying away from the watchful eye of social services / child protection. Kids can so easily slip through the net that way. you did the right thing. flowers

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 17-Jul-13 19:11:01

The coolness on my skin was worth the sore joints grin

Simbaline Wed 17-Jul-13 19:39:23

I was very clear when I spoke to social services that I was raising concerns but that it was very possible there were other explanations for what I had seen. I did do a bit of research on what to do having never come across this before and all the information on what to do if you had concerns re the welfare of a child that I read said not to approach the parents unless you knew them and not to wait until you were sure and that a lot of these cases would have benefitted from early intervention.

I certainly don't think they're going to go in all guns blazing from my report and I'm not sure I would have called if I thought the kids were in any way linked in in terms of school, groups, activities etc but they seem very isolated so I don't know who else would identify it if there is a problem.

Isildur Wed 17-Jul-13 20:13:59

They've only lived there a month hmm.

dirtyface Wed 17-Jul-13 20:24:03

just do it. its anonymous. and from what you have said i would be worried too

i did it a while ago because of a situation i was aware of, and i am so glad i did

spleenyone Wed 17-Jul-13 20:27:34

You definitely did the right thing. Thank goodness those children have a neighbour who doesn't just turn a blind eye. You were concerned, with good reason, you reported it, and now the professionals can act, or not, accordingly.

Sconset Wed 17-Jul-13 20:33:55

In our authority, if a family move in it can be weeks or months until they get a school place... there may well be valid reasons the children are home 24/7. And if 1 child does have a disability, it may be nigh on impossible for a parent to take them all out.

fromparistoberlin Fri 19-Jul-13 09:59:39

"If they had just reported us to social services it would have opened up a horrible can of worms for us."

I dont agree. If SS contact people and there is no issue, then they can move on. SS contacted my SIL as my niece broke her arm. No biggie, did not "open can of worms". I dont agree that people should contact parents first

time after time we read about kids and wonder why noone did anything, fucking devastating

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:02:03

I know people who have had no issue and been contacted by SS and they didn't just "move on" and indeed a can of worms was opened.

DuelingFanjo Fri 19-Jul-13 10:16:48

In general Social Services are not into creating shit-storms for families, even the ones in difficulty. If the child are not deemed to be at risk then in general social workers will leave the case alone and if they are at risk they will mostly work WITH families to HELP them rather than break them apart, though I am sure these facts won't deter people from ripping into social work as a profession and spreading scare stories.

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:30:51

Am definitely NOT ripping into them as a profession.

We have a wonderful social worker who has supported us amazingly and whom I will be eternally grateful for.

But i DO know others who have met jobsworth types with no understanding of their situation who have made their lives very difficult.

Like all professions there are some less good practitioners and the difficulty is they hold power

FanjoForTheMammaries Fri 19-Jul-13 10:36:29

A very good friend of mine WAS a CP social worker before she had kids in fact.

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