Sunday, August 19, 2012

Get Involved or Mind Your Business?

I've noticed over the years that more and more people don't get involved into other people's matters. I'm not sure if it's fear of being sued, or just not wanting to be bothered with it, or feeling that there's just not anything they can do about it. When kids are involved, though, the situation can get sticky.

I have been faced with such a dilemma of whether to mind my own business or get involved in someone else's matter.

A few nights ago, The Girl came to me and told me that a 3 year old kid jumped on The Ginger and started punching him in the stomach. The Ginger, being 7, was shocked and didn't know what to do because, in his own words, 'I didn't want to hit a 3 year old.' Understandable. The Girl pulled the little boy off of The Ginger and they came and told me what happened.

Now, this 3 year old has been a problem for a while now. He throws rocks at the kids, hits, yells, and the best part? He's always outside, by himself, wandering all around the apartment complex (and it's a decent sized complex with about 200 apartments in a square), no parents in sight. Yes, a 3 year old wandering by himself during the day while all of the older kids are in school. It's been a pet peeve of mine for a while, but I had no idea in which apartment this child lived.

So, this 3 year old, to put it nicely, is a hellion- a hellion with parents who obviously don't care about him. Yesterday he started throwing rocks at the other kids, and one of the neighbor girls, 13 years old, went and knocked on the little boy's door to tell his mom, and no one answered the door. She asked around, and someone told her no one was at home. She picked up her phone and called 911 on this 3 year old (another reason, in my opinion, kids should not have cell phones). The Ginger came and got me, and I went outside immediately to find out what had happened. That's when they told me that the 3 year old's parents were not home, and that he was being watched by his 9 year old brother. This disturbed me greatly.

Did I agree with the 13 year old calling 911? Hell no. She should have gone and gotten her mom or The Girl
should have gotten me before her friend dialed 911. But, considering the police were on their way, I figured I'd have a talk with them about how the 3 year old is outside by himself every day (and I'm not exaggerating on that).

The police came, and were filled in on what was going on by the 13 year old girl and her mother. The police went and knocked on the 3 year old's door, and the mother answered, meaning she was there the whole time, and not only wasn't watching her child, but didn't answer when the 13 year old tried to get in contact with her (What if her kid was hurt?). She said her sister, who lived in the apartment next to her, watched the 3 year old for her during the day (for the record, I've never seen her, her sister, or anyone watching this child outside). The police had a few more words with her, then came over to let us know what was going on.

There was, of course, nothing they could do about the 3 year old throwing rocks, or even hitting my son the day before. As far as the child wandering around the neighborhood by himself, they could do something about that, as long as we report to the apartment complex's office each time we find the child wandering around. Then, the apartment complex will call the police, and if the woman continues to not watch her child, or have an adequate babysitter during the day, the police will step in with social services.

Here lies the dilemma. Hubby and I had a long talk about this. We are moving out of this apartment complex in 2 months. As of right now, this problem is not ours, and in 2 months, will definitely not be ours. He takes the standpoint that since it is none of our business, and we're out of here in 2 months anyway, that we don't need to get involved. Let the kid wander around the apartment complex all he wants, it's not our problem. If the mother cared about the child in the first place, then she'd watch him (which she wasn't doing today), but since she doesn't watch him, she doesn't care, and we don't need to get involved. I see things differently. This kid could wander out in the street, could be kidnapped, could get hurt. I feel that while, yes, technically it's none of our business, and I agree that the mother isn't doing her job correctly, that the authorities need to be brought into it to help make a better life for this kid one way or another, even if that means him being taken away from his mother. I feel that I need to do what the police officer said and inform the office when the child is wandering around by himself. If nothing else, maybe it would be a wake up call for the mother to care a little more about her child.

What would you all do? Mind your own business and count down the days until you are out of this apartment complex, while watching a 3 year old wander around by himself each day? Or would you get involved into someone else's life, knowing the end result could be a child being removed from their own home (not truly knowing one way or another if this is better for the child or not)?

This is where I need my highly opinionated readers who I love so much to share their thoughts with me. I want to hear it all- the good, the bad, the ugly, the logical. Let me know what you would do in this situation- get involved or mind your business.  Leave your comments below!

Addendum: Later on in the afternoon on the day this post was written, my kids were playing outside, and they came inside to inform Hubby and I that the office lady had told all of the kids outside that they couldn't play out there anymore unless their parents were right beside them. Hubby and I marched right to the office, where the woman said that because of the complaints lately, that no children were allowed to play outside without their parents with them. We asked if this had to do with the cops being called on the 3 year old and she said yes, because the child was unsupervised. We informed her that our children were 10 and almost 8, they were not 3 years old, there was a big difference, and asked her if this 'rule' as she called it (which she said has always been policy at the apartment complex) was in our lease agreement. She said no, so we informed her that until they added an addendum to our rental agreement saying that our kids couldn't play outside unless we were standing right beside them, that they were going to continue to play outside. She told us to take it up with management on Monday. I have already researched Arizona state laws and have my rebuttal ready if the office tries to enforce this 'rule' that no one has ever heard of before or has ever been told.

Two more freaking months and I am done with this place. I can not wait!!!

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  1. I'm so glad you asked for the highly opinionated readers.

    In my opinion, you're not getting involved with the mother's business, but the child's. A child's safety takes residence over the concern for not getting involved in someone else's business. Quite frankly, it's about protecting the child. This child is not being protected. And, while I let my 3 year old wander around between our townhouses on base, he was always accompanied by an older child, or within sight.

    If she doesn't know the way the child is behaving, she's obviously not supervising him.

    1. See, on base is slightly different to me. We're getting ready to move on base, and while I'm still an overprotective mother and the kids can't go out of eyesight or ear shot of me, I'll rest a little more when they are outside once we move on base.

    2. Well... Just remember that people are on base that you don't know, too. Just living on base doesn't make it safe for your kids. It just makes it safer. Oh, sometimes I miss living on base, though. They have rules for things like this, so you don't have to even think about whether or not it's okay. :)

  2. I agree with Kristina - as a Mum and a school worker I would report the childs movements appropriately as a means to get a safer situation for the child, regardless of whether the mum is in/ out etc.. My only concern for you would be if there were any retaliation from the mum; I have seen this before within school where a parent has become violent when it is accused that they are not caring for their children properly. Three is too young to be around unattended - my daughter is three, she is bright and coherent in her speech but to leave her alone all day... impossible!
    Good luck with this,

    1. Hubby was afraid of the mom retaliating if we did report the kid to the office. That is a concern of mine. We are getting out of here in 2 months though.

      Thanks for the good luck wishes, lol.

  3. I am a retired police officer and mom of three little boys. Report the kid. Police can't be everywhere and need your help to create a paper trail so the proper intervention can take place. You owe it to the child to get involved. Poor baby's mom dosent give a crap, so you have too. Maybe she's lazy and needs a kick in the butt, or maybe she needs the child taken away. CPS needs to get in there and make that determination before something horrible happens.

    1. Thanks for replying. One of the cops I spoke to yesterday stressed this to us- if we report the kid every time he's outside alone, then they have evidence that she's not watching him- a paper trail. I'm wondering how many times it'll take before something's done, though.

  4. I am biased, and I fully admit that, but I absolutely say report the kid if he is running unsupervised, especially if he is throwing rocks and hurting other kids with no correction.

    It boils down to safety for me. I grew up in small town USA, the kind of town where nothing ever happens. Only it does happen. Our farm was relatively near the local elementary school, the school that I would start attending only months later. On Feb 22, 1985 Cherie Mahan got off the school bus, going home from elem school, less than 10 minutes away from my house, and she vanished. She is just gone. I grew up with stranger danger programs, with missing posters posted all around the community, and with the knowledge that sometimes kids DO disappear. I don't know if I could live with myself if I might have been able to prevent another child from disappearing.

    1. Wow. I grew up in small town USA, too. So sorry to hear what happened in your town.

      This apartment complex, while shaped in a square with the buildings acting as a mini-fortress, isn't child proof. This kid could wander out into the parking lot, or even worse, the busy Tucson street out front. That has me so scared.

      Thanks for replying!

  5. I would definitely get involved for the child's sake.

  6. I agree with everyone else and don't' really have to say it but with for reinforcement's sake: Get involved! I used to work with youth living in care and it is a risk that where they are going could be just as bad or worse BUT to not do anything based on an 'if' like that is so put a child knowingly at risk. A three year old should not be unsupervised like that and it is your business because you are a human being and he is a human being and we all deserve a good start in life and we all deserve compassion.