Author Topic: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?  (Read 2537 times)

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Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« on: July 18, 2018, 09:24:11 PM »

Offline jpotter33

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So, my wife and I have been really struggling with our neighbor situation lately. We live in a decent area and a nicer neighborhood; however, the house next to ours is extremely problematic. Rather than take you through the entire backstory of the last year (which is a complete sh**show), I'll just quickly list some of the issues that we're dealing with:

- It's a known drug house (low-level stuff like weed), and several of them have had recent drug charges, including in the past week;
- They're now considered a "nuisance property" per our city's Criminal Activity Nuisance Ordinances (CANO), and the landlord will now be charged each time the police have to come to the property, which is a lot;
- In the last two years, they have a rap sheet of (literally) over 30 pages worth of instances where police and/or EMS have had to report to their house for complaints or emergency calls;
- They lack any type of social awareness or common courtesy, as they regularly play basketball in the street bouncing balls off of parked cars, running in other people's yards, yelling and screaming outside in the middle of the night, etc.;
- They CONSTANTLY fight and curse at each other outside or have music blaring to the point of the police being called, and on at least three occasions one or more of them have been arrested for disorderly conduct;
- On several occasions we've watched the daughter punch her boyfriend outside, along with the boyfriend threatening the other neighbors, and once one of their arguments spilled over into our yard with the daughter trying to come into our house out of fear of her boyfriend;
- This weekend my car was struck as one of them was fighting with his girlfriend, who sped off and struck my car parked on the side of the street at 4 am in the morning.

And this is only the half of it with many other things happening the year before we moved here. The local councilwoman and police department are actively trying to get these people evicted; however, the landlord is an older lady who has the rent paid to a living trust with an associated lawyer that we cannot locate. So we're kind of stuck at the moment with no recourse for eviction.

But this is all beside the main point of this post - the care of their two children, a two year old boy and a seventh month old boy. The main issue that gives us concern is the fact that they let their two year old boy run around naked outside virtually everyday, regardless of the temperatures, and this is in a suburb with at least fifty houses on our street on a fairly busy street. We've seen him outside naked in both July in 100 degrees weather and November in 30 degrees weather.

Beyond the whole issue of modesty and the appropriateness of a toddler running around outside naked, we've only seen the kid in diapers a couple of times, and we highly suspect that they simply don't put diapers on him, let alone the actual baby, which is probably due to none of them having a job (and they openly brag about this).

In addition to this, their house is in terrible condition, and my wife, who once took them some of our old baby clothes, says that the inside is even worse and extremely filthy.

So we really don't know what to do here. Obviously, we find it very strange that anyone would let their toddler run around naked outside in full view of probably hundreds of people, but we're a bit unsure if the other issues that we've experienced with them are clouding our judgment. We're seriously considering calling CPS on them, as I seriously question whether that is a safe environment for those kids given all of these issues with substandard care, drug use, violence, and potentially inappropriate parenting decisions.

What does everyone else think; what would you do in this situation? Also, any general advice for dealing with this issue would be appreciated. I'm finishing out the second year of my postdoctoral fellowship with anywhere from 4 to 9 months before moving and taking a more permanent job, so we're simply trying to "tough it out" rather than going through the hassle of moving once again. So any practical recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2018, 09:30:49 PM »

Offline Erik

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If you have an HOA or equivalent id suggest contacting them. With police its tricky. You need to call them for a specific offense and then theyll probably just deny it or say they will keep the noise down and then the cops just file a report. HoA is your best bet. Thats really the point of it... to hold nuissance neighbors accountable for their house and actions.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2018, 09:35:59 PM by Erik »

Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2018, 09:35:08 PM »

Online Roy H.

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I'm more concerned about the domestic violence you've witnessed than the naked children (at least in July; November is a different story).

I have a very low opinion of CPS in general, and with all the police involvement they should have already been called.  At the same time, as far as children are involved, it's better to be safe than sorry.  If you're worried about the kids, forget about all of the other stuff, and make a call.  Whatever the hassle that comes from it, it's a lot better than the alternative:  not making a call, and then having something happen that perhaps could have been prevented.


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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2018, 09:36:37 PM »

Online Roy H.

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If you have an HOA or equivalent id suggest contacting them. With police its tricky. You need to call them for a specific offense and then theyll probably just deny it or  will keep the noise down. HoA is your best bet. Thats really the point of it... to hold nuissance neighbors accountable for their house and actions.

He's talking about Child Protective Services / Department of Health and Human Services.  They're the proper agency to call in circumstances like this.


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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2018, 09:38:50 PM »

Offline saltlover

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I find it very surprising that there could be so many police calls to that house without a child welfare having been notified already.  In other words, I expect they’re already on the radar, but if you have concerns, you should call (although a 2-year old demanding to go outside without clothes regardless of weather is not something that would trigger my child neglect radar, having a such a 2-year-old myself.)

Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2018, 09:41:49 PM »

Offline mef730

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Yes. A 2-year old shouldn't be running alone and naked outside. As Salt pointed out, kids are kids, so once in a while is probably normal. Constantly, though, seems to be neglectful. The lack of diapers is a particular issue.

You're clearly concerned that the children are in danger. This is NOT a case of being a nosy neighbor. It's calling in the professionals, so to speak, to assess the situation.

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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2018, 09:44:20 PM »

Offline mef730

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I find it very surprising that there could be so many police calls to that house without a child welfare having been notified already.  In other words, I expect they’re already on the radar, but if you have concerns, you should call (although a 2-year old demanding to go outside without clothes regardless of weather is not something that would trigger my child neglect radar, having a such a 2-year-old myself.)

If your kid is anything like mine, you may be in for at least another 2-3 years of "naked time."

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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2018, 10:00:15 PM »

Offline Erik

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Yeah i agree with Roy that you should call the cops for vandalism and violence. Im just thinking it wont help your overall situation too much.

Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2018, 10:07:04 PM »

Offline jpotter33

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I find it very surprising that there could be so many police calls to that house without a child welfare having been notified already.  In other words, I expect they’re already on the radar, but if you have concerns, you should call (although a 2-year old demanding to go outside without clothes regardless of weather is not something that would trigger my child neglect radar, having a such a 2-year-old myself.)

Yes. A 2-year old shouldn't be running alone and naked outside. As Salt pointed out, kids are kids, so once in a while is probably normal. Constantly, though, seems to be neglectful. The lack of diapers is a particular issue.

You're clearly concerned that the children are in danger. This is NOT a case of being a nosy neighbor. It's calling in the professionals, so to speak, to assess the situation.

Mike

Yeah, it's certainly not simply an occasional thing. Since it's been warmer out, it's virtually everyday that he's outside running around naked, and it's for hours at a time. Tonight he was out there at 7 pm with the rest of them, and they're literally still outside right now.

And I can somewhat sympathize, as I have a three year old boy and a six month old boy. Sometimes after baths they just want to run around naked - in the house.

I don't know. Perhaps I'm a prude, but I just find it appalling that people would let their toddler run around naked... outside... in a front yard... right next to a busy street with no shame. And honestly, I am personally uncomfortable looking out my window and seeing a little naked boy running around, and I don't want my kids to have to see that or think that's normal either. And that's not even considering what is going on in the house, especially with the baby!

I don't know. I think it's definitely something reasonable, but from a selfish perspective I also have concerns. My wife and kids stay at home during the day while I'm at work, and I have serious concerns about them being home alone all day if they find out that we called CPS, especially with their history with violence and questionable decision-making.
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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2018, 10:07:10 PM »

Offline Eddie20

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Why hasn't the landlord started the process on an eviction?

Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2018, 10:21:08 PM »

Offline jpotter33

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I'm more concerned about the domestic violence you've witnessed than the naked children (at least in July; November is a different story).

I have a very low opinion of CPS in general, and with all the police involvement they should have already been called.  At the same time, as far as children are involved, it's better to be safe than sorry.  If you're worried about the kids, forget about all of the other stuff, and make a call.  Whatever the hassle that comes from it, it's a lot better than the alternative:  not making a call, and then having something happen that perhaps could have been prevented.

Perhaps it's a bit sexist, but I'm less inclined to call in this situation than if it was the boyfriend hitting the girlfriend, though looking back I wish I did.

As for the hassle, I'm more worried about any trouble that it might cause for us, especially for my wife and young kids who are home during the day. The boyfriend has already threatened the other neighbor and been arrested in the past week for disorderly conduct for throwing bricks at a car, all in addition to threatening to "torch granny's house" - an older couple across the street who have been at the forefront of trying to get them evicted. I have substantial concerns what they would do if they found out we called CPS.
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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2018, 10:23:00 PM »

Online Roy H.

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Quote
My wife and kids stay at home during the day while I'm at work, and I have serious concerns about them being home alone all day if they find out that we called CPS, especially with their history with violence and questionable decision-making.

In general (this is in Maine) they'll only find out who called if the case goes to court, mostly likely with the kids taken into custody.  You can try a completely anonymous tip, but if you provide sufficient detail, your neighbors may be able to guess who it was; if you don't, CPS may not have enough info to start a case.

But, this last part gets to the rub of it:  if you think the kids are genuinely in danger / at risk, how important is protecting them from harm to you?  You can always make it somebody else's problem, and frankly, it seems like there's a great argument there.  The people who should be handling this stuff aren't.  But, does that absolve you of moral responsibility?  I think the answer to that goes back to the question of low legitimate the danger to the kids.  If you genuinely think this could be driven by your animosity about all their other issues, then walking away is okay.  If you have a genuine concern, though, do something to protect them.  Having injured kids on your conscience isn't something you want to live with.


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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2018, 10:26:56 PM »

Offline tarheelsxxiii

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I would make the call without much hesitation.  Sounds like pretty clear neglect, but even if that is in question for you -- you know the situation better than we can -- kids growing up in an environment of substance abuse and violence are set up for a tough life.  I have a similar opinion of CPS as Roy, and it's unfortunately possible that the kids could end up a similarly bad or even worse environment in the future.  But as salt said, it's better to play it safe and at least get the situation on someone's radar, if it's not already.  Sounds like it's stressful situation for you and your wife -- by making the call, hopefully you'll find some peace of mind as well.  I imagine the situation hits home even harder with two little ones of your own at home. 

On a less serious note, it also sounds like you, salt, and mef are raising streakers and/or future Chippendales.  :)

Edit: I just saw this after I submitted my post--

Quote
As for the hassle, I'm more worried about any trouble that it might cause for us, especially for my wife and young kids who are home during the day. The boyfriend has already threatened the other neighbor and been arrested in the past week for disorderly conduct for throwing bricks at a car, all in addition to threatening to "torch granny's house" - an older couple across the street who have been at the forefront of trying to get them evicted. I have substantial concerns what they would do if they found out we called CPS.

It does sound like a difficult call.  Hope the situation gets better regardless of the decision you make.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2018, 10:33:08 PM by tarheelsxxiii »
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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2018, 10:28:41 PM »

Offline jpotter33

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Why hasn't the landlord started the process on an eviction?

Honestly, I don't think that they're aware of the situation and/or are too old or incapacitated to do anything about it.

My guess is that they don't know about these issues yet, as they were only recently deemed a nuisance property. And given that they have a living trust set up to deal with the finances with the house, she's probably not actively involved with anything regarding the property.

For context, from what we've gathered thus far she's a lady in her mid-70's who is widowed, had a daughter die several years back, and only has a son remaining, though he has a mild cognitive deficit and lives with his mother.

She doesn't seem to have an appointed guardian, which is questionable in itself, but she had someone setup the living trust for her that we can't seem to locate and contact about these issues.
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Re: Need Opinions - Should I Call CPS on My Neighbors?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2018, 10:37:57 PM »

Offline byennie

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If their behavior is constantly out in the street in plain view, they aren't likely to know who called CPS -- since it could be just about anyone from the neighborhood or even driving by. That is, unless you've threatened to call CPS or some other indication.

I doubt the children are being well taken care of, but it does come down to some level of judgement on your part vs online speculation. The child being naked outside at weird hours does fit in with the idea of irresponsible parents, but, being personally offended by the sight of it is more an HOA or neighborly level problem than CPS. Is he/she actually running in the street? Malnourished? Injured? Abused? Part of the difficult in these cases is that crappy (but not outright abusive) parents are still preferred over separation.

IMO if you're more concerned than offended, call. The only scenario in which they know it was you involves serious abuse that you *should* risk identifying yourself over. If they're just really obnoxious neighbors then unfortunately it probably needs to take care of itself via evictions/ criminal convictions etc. If they're paying the rent with drug money, it's probably only a matter of time before they get busted and are gone.

 

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