Should I call DSS on my sister?


#1

I’m struggling with a situation going on at my sister’s house. Though she is the oldest of six, she is least successful with her life. She is always struggling financially, never has a working car, but never has a job. Over the years, we’ve stopped jumping every time she cries for something. Her older son dropped out of high school in the 10th grade (after reapeating it twice). Her younger son failed the 7th grade.

Last year, we urged her to let the younder one live up here (we are 3 hrs north) at my brother’s house. Though we hoped he would stay the year, he chose to go home at Christmas. I will add that it’s not a decision a child should make, and my sister was not supportive either. I can understand… she rather have her “good” son at home.

I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law. He was arrested last night (apparently drunk and shooting a gun off). His older son apparently attacked my sister and she and my younger nephew got in a physical fight with him. The older one then stole their only car (one I had given them) and somehow wrecked it.

I asked how my sister was doing but she was sleeping. I asked how my younger nephew was as this kind of stuff has to be hard on him just getting ready to go back to school and my (drunk at 3pm) brother-in-law said he’d be fine.

My sister does nothing all day. Doesn’t work, doesn’t clean, etc… I’m quite sure she is depressed, though not treated.

My brother-in-law was complaining about not being able to be in a better position, so we went over his bills. Apparently, he takes home 2000 a month, has 1000 on bills, spends 700 on booze, cigs, and weed, and the rest is for food. Well DUH!!!

I’m so upset. I asked if my sister was drinking a lot and smoking pot as well an he said she drinks more so he won’t drink too much (she’s said that to me before).

I could go on with other ridiculous stories of what is going on in their house, but this time, for some reason, I just feel like this is the last straw. We were making great progress when my nephew moved up here for the fall semester, but16 weeks isn’t a lot of time. He needs to go well in school and see a different way to live (I’m not talking money - we’re not rich - I mean sober parents and a clean house).

I’m so worried for my nephew. I feel like my drunk brother-in-law and my do-nothing sister will just simply exist while my nephew will probably fall into bad grades again and be like his older brother.

If my brother and I offered to have our nephew live with my brother again, I don’t know that they’d go for it. I know one thing… I would not be dragging him down every other week for weekends so he can just hang out with his parents in their smoke-filled, roach infested trailer. I don’t want to hurt my sister’s feelings either, but I worry that there is more serious stuff going on there that my nephew should not be around.

Someone suggested calling DSS, but I don’t know much about them and what that would do.

Any ideas?


#2

Hi BostonMyrtleBea,

I once watched a great program of Father Corapi’s. In this program he discussed what Christian love was. To sum him up, he says that Christian love is being able to do what is morally best for the people you love, even if those people will in turn despise you for it. In the big scheme of things, someone not liking you for the reminder of your life on Earth, pales in comparison to the good you can do for their soul after they die here. I think Father Corapi’s viewpoint on what real Christian love is, was completely accurate and applies to your situation.

I would strongly suggest that something is done. Your sister’s feelings may be hurt, and your nephew may even resent you for stepping in, but it needs to be done. If people around you are suggesting that you contact DSS, then I would say to do that. I haven’t had any reason to be involved with DSS, so I don’t know what they can do. But reading your post I’ve found references to illegal drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence, and children living in unsafe and unclean areas. If others believe that DSS is the step you should take, then I would do it immediately. You could end up saving your family’s souls.


#3

Briefly put, Yes, call DSS to at least notify them of the situation.


#4

Calling DSS is a huge step. I would seriously think hard before doing such a thing.

If you think the boy is in serious physical or emotional harm, then you should call. If you just don’t approve of the way they live and raise their kids, then no. Can you talk to your nephew? He chose to go back home right? Maybe he is happy there for whatever reason. Maybe he feels loved. Or he may feel guilty and like he “has” to be there to help out.

It certainly sounds like you at least need to think and pray on it. If things are as you described, it does sound like he could be in physical danger. And drunk and stoned parents are make for a good chance of all kinds of abuse.

Pray hard before doing anything, and maybe talk to your priest about the situation.


#5

700 dollars a month on weed and alcohol?

Ya, you need to call Social Services.


#6

I would try and find someone who knows about DSS in the area (for example, a licensed social worker) and talk to them about it. Talking to a priest is a good suggestion, but some of them do not have the training or knowledge to know what to do with a family where abuse/neglect is taking place.
I would try and find someone who is familiar with DSS and discuss the situation.

However, before you do that, you’ll want to keep in mind that most social workers, psychologists, teachers, counselors, and doctors are what’s called “mandated reporters.” That means that if they have any evidence abuse or neglect is going on, they are required by law to report it to DSS. If you talk to one it would be best to first clarify your local mandated reporting laws, then perhaps frame the situation as hypothetical question, leaving out any identifying information. For example, “what could DSS do if a father was doing XY and Z?” rather than “What could DSS do when my brother-in-law does XY and Z.” In my state a mandated reporter would not have to report such a “hypothetical” scenario, but I can not speak for where you live.


#7

Forgive me, but, in my opinion, logic would dictate that if a social worker or a professional believed a situation warranted calling DSS for the sake of a child, then it probably does. Why would you beat around the bush? It’s either necessary or it isn’t.


#8

DSS can take quite different approaches depending on where a person is. It would be easier to decide whether to call them if there was some idea what they might actually do.


#9

I think that’s a good point, and I am not saying I think the original poster should or should not beat around the bush when talking to a mandated reporter. Being straightforward is a valid choice. I just wanted to give her some info so she could make that choice on her own, since it’s her family, and she is the one who has to figure out if reporting to DSS is what she wants to do, and if she trusts DSS to intervene for her family.

On reason for asking this way is that it protects your freedom to help out in the way you feel is morally right. If you find out more about DSS you may not agree with the way they handle these cases, or you may think another approach may be better for your family. Of course you may also decide it is just the thing your family needs.


#10

I’d first exhaust all possibilities of getting your nephew out of there either to your home again or another relatives. If that doesn’t pan out soon, I’d call DSS. That is one very bad and DANGEROUS situation there. Your BIL is drunk and shooting off a gun? Good grief, he could kill someone and I’m sure you don’t want to wait around for that to (possibly) happen. I’d do one of the two above, and soon.

Many prayers.


#11

Please call Social Services immediately. Some areas call it Child Protective Services. The protection of your nephew is far more important than your sister’s feelings. SS will not tell tell your sister it’s you who called them.

They will investigate. If they believe they have evidence about your sister’s and BIL’s neglect toward your nephew, and possible abuse and danger, they will either provide temporary foster care, or allow him to live with you, until the situation has changed.

Abused or neglected kids still love their parents. That doesn’t mean they should continue to live with them when they neglect their parental duties or are risks to the physical or emotional safety of the child.


#12

I agree with the suggestion of calling DSS immediately. You have already tried to get your nephew out of there, but it didn’t last. And spending so much money on illegal drugs and alcohol it a definite sign of trouble. The kids shouldn’t be around that stuff. So, call away. And if it goes to court, consider testifying about the family situation. Your heart is in the right place, so don’t be afraid to do what you can to help the situation. And don’t spend any money on them. They need to be able to stand on their own.


#13

If he was arrested last night, why wouldn’t the police have done something if there were minor children and drunk parents shooting off guns? I would have thought that one of the first things that they would have done in that situation was to assess who was there.

I would never hesitate to call DSS if there was a matter of safety involved. I know that sometimes what they can do is limited and that sometimes after a certain age that they leave it up to the children whether or not they want to stick around in a bad situation, but it seems like it would be a good idea to find out what if anything they can do.

Also, if the attendance of the children at school is too bad, a board will convene to discuss it and DSS will be contacted. Your sister has a legal obligation to get her children to school.


#14

**this is basic. Are you willing to take on fulltime and possibly permanent parenting of this child? Actually it appears the question is whether your brother is willing to do that? If not are you willing to see him permanently removed from the family and put in the foster system? If not, then I see no purpose to calling DSS. Bc dss is highly unlikely to change the situation thus the only thing they can really do is remove the child from the situation. Possible jail time if illegal drugs are found on the premises for you bil and sister. Maybe even some of the older kids. So sending her to jail is also a serious consideration. If your brother is willing to serious and permanently take over, then he needs to contact an attorney about getting guardianship of this boy. The attorney will be able to tell him how involved Dss needs to be. **


#15

We’re int he same state so I’ll try to help out as much as I can, knowing what I do about our DSS here. This is assuming that all parties involved live in the same state. DH and I are certified foster/adopt parents; we haven’t yet had a placement. So this is limited knowledge, but I figure anything can help. :shrug:

Not much can be done about this - DSS would try to help her get into programs that could improve her quality of life (get a stable job, etc.).

Last year, we urged her to let the younder one live up here (we are 3 hrs north) at my brother’s house. Though we hoped he would stay the year, he chose to go home at Christmas. I will add that it’s not a decision a child should make, and my sister was not supportive either. I can understand… she rather have her “good” son at home

.

If this would go to an issue with the courts, because he has lived with you before, it’s likely (NOT a guarantee) you would be granted temporary custody. Because you’re a relative, they will attempt to get by without paying you a stipend for his room and board (you can argue this with them I think).

I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law. He was arrested last night (apparently drunk and shooting a gun off). His older son apparently attacked my sister and she and my younger nephew got in a physical fight with him. The older one then stole their only car (one I had given them) and somehow wrecked it.

Physical violence - esp the gun - would be a reason for them to intervene. I’m wondering why they haven’t already if the police were called. There may be a reason. Also, DSS here is totally and completely cash-strapped (thanks Sanford!), so it may be a budgetary concern - they are less likely, I’ve heard, to remove children from dangerous situations right now.

My sister does nothing all day. Doesn’t work, doesn’t clean, etc… I’m quite sure she is depressed, though not treated.

My brother-in-law was complaining about not being able to be in a better position, so we went over his bills. Apparently, he takes home 2000 a month, has 1000 on bills, spends 700 on booze, cigs, and weed, and the rest is for food. Well DUH!!!

This would be a reason to call. DSS could help her get treatment for depression. If he tests positive for weed, this could also mean removal - but it’s doubtful that they would. Do they live together? This would help determine if the children would be removed.

I’m so upset. I asked if my sister was drinking a lot and smoking pot as well an he said she drinks more so he won’t drink too much (she’s said that to me before).

I could go on with other ridiculous stories of what is going on in their house, but this time, for some reason, I just feel like this is the last straw. We were making great progress when my nephew moved up here for the fall semester, but16 weeks isn’t a lot of time. He needs to go well in school and see a different way to live (I’m not talking money - we’re not rich - I mean sober parents and a clean house).

I’m so worried for my nephew. I feel like my drunk brother-in-law and my do-nothing sister will just simply exist while my nephew will probably fall into bad grades again and be like his older brother.

This must be so difficult. But unless you can point to specific instances (corroborated by physical evidence like positive drug tests or police reports), I bet DSS will do very little.

If you did call, and they did place the children with you, you would probably have to agree to visitation. If not, they may place the children with another emergency foster home.

If you’re sure that there is a present danger of abuse, or a chance the children could be harmed, you should call. I’m a mandated court reporter - if I knew who you were, I would have to call on the kids’ behalf. But keep in mind that the cops were already there, so they may be reluctant to remove the kids. Please keep us posted.


#16

Thank you all so much for your responses.

I am on the fence. I know my sister and her hubby do love their kids and would never physically abuse them, but I wonder about other things that can affect them. I definitely don’t think their lifestyle is one in which to raise kids, but I agree that is not a reason to call DSS. That is why I am trying to be very thorough. I am usually a ‘live and let live’ type of person, but now I feel it’s getting out of hand. I don’t know if everything my brother-in-law told me is true (my sister disagrees with some of it) and he was drunk, but even if the details aren’t accurate, the overall picture is.

I asked her straight out if she thought the police would make a call to DSS after they arrested my brother-in-law. She said neither of the kids were home and she is a stable parent, so why would there be a need to call?

Both my husband and father-in-law (retired police officer) say not to call. They think it might do more harm and he might not end up with family. Another sister says to call. And my local brother and I are not sure what to do (there are six kids in the family so there are many different opinions).

I specifically asked my sister about having my younger nephew come back up and live up here again, but she said he’s fine. Both my brother’s family or my family would take my nephew in without hesitation, without a stipend, and on a permanent basis if necessary. That is definitely not the question. I am watching closely and will have further discussions with the family (including her) this week.


#17

Hmmmm. May be time for an ‘intervention’ of sorts, just adults, no kids present. It doesn’t seem your sis and BIL are really living in reality if they say everything is ‘fine’. Can you and your other family members talk to them together?


#18

If the police were doing their job DSS would have already been called.

If they haven’t injecting yourself into the situation MIGHT help (the boy placed in your care instead the care of strangers) before strangers (like ticked off neighbors, police, drug infromants) take the first step for you. Be prepared - your sister will hate you for it, but that doesn’t sound like much of a loss.


#19

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