The Dilemna of Conscience

My laptop is convalescing.

It was overworked, I guess. Starting to experience dementia and general tiredness and anxiety. It's okay, I'm sure the "docs" will have her up and running around in no time.

In the meanwhile I'm using the kids computer, which has been around since the dinosaurs and is about as fast-moving as a tar pit.

Blogging, email, commenting, websurfing are all incredibly difficult.

Facebook, miraculously, seems to work even on dinosaur-age browsers.

And I did manage to at least get my column in this week.

I wrote it in part in response to this story about an eight year old boy here in Newfoundland that admitted to brutally killing his nieghbour's dog.

But that's only part of the story. I also wrote it in response to the things I see everyday.

Today I called Child Protective Services. After almost two years of suspicions and occasional debates with my husband I decided that I would narc out another parent for possible neglect.

The situation was getting out of hand and two boys that we've worried about in the past had to be told that they were no longer welcome at our house. That then put the fear into me: if they aren't here, where will they go? Certainly not home as they appeared to have little to no parental supervision after school and early evenings. I've always kept an eye out for them but I also have to protect my own children.

So I called, stated my strong suspicion that these two young boys were either without supervision or were being banned from their house. I told the social worker that they were mostly well-behaved and that I didn't thing the parents were "bad" parents but that there was obviously something going on.

And yet, it doesn't feel like I did the right thing. I do feel like a snitch and a nosy parker and everything else in that category. It's so funny that in the parenting world we all seem so eager to debate and confront other parents about how they feed their children or how they let them play at the playground or what TV they're allowed to watch, but we are so reluctant to engage and challenge them on the basic neccesities of parenting.

Anyway, here's my column. Let me know what you think.


  1. Hi Dara! I read your column and left you a comment over there. Calling protective services never feels good, but I think when you are as worried as you were it is best to be on the safe side. It takes a lot of courage to do what you did and I am proud of you.

  2. I think you did the right thing, if there is nothing going on they have nothing to worry about and if there is then you have helped 2 children. You should be patting yourself on the back.
    I read your column and tried to post a comment but I'm not sure if it went through, I think it was excellent though and you said what needs saying. People are all too eager to deny the problem and hide from it when it needs dealing with.

  3. I agree with Cool Whip, it feels horrible, but I feel you did the right thing. Let's face it if everything is ok, then it's no harm no foul is it? The Social Services will determine that's the case and all will be ok.

  4. As everyone above has said, how could is not be the right thing? You felt there was cause and so you did what you did to help the children. If you were wrong and their mother really was waiting at home for them everyday and they were hanging around the streets and your house out of choice when she thought they were somewhere safe, then no harm done.
    I think I'd rather know people were looking out for my kids than not.

  5. oh, and have just written a blog post about this and your column http://www.rukakuusamo.com/notesfromlapland/2010/06/8-year-old-kills-dog-with-bbq-fork-whose-fault-is-it.html

  6. I think you did the right thing. (as long as it was not me you were calling about) :-)

  7. I too have had to make that call and it is heartbreaking, but the only thing I felt I could do. Well done for making a stand

  8. I hate that we are so easily judgmental about meds and breastfeeding and working v. staying home but we COMPLETELY LET DOWN the children who are truly neglected or abused. It's easy to sit at our computers and point the finger. But pick up the phone? Confront the mom who hits her child at the farmer's market? We don't do it. And I have done both. I have called CPS and I have turned away. And although the former was initially harder, I could look myself in the mirror the following day.
    The best parents mind ALL the children. Awesome that you are that kind of mom.

  9. You totally did the right thing. I know no-one likes to be thought of as a nosey parker or a busybody but when it comes to the absolute bottom line welfare of children then someone needs to intervene. You can tell in your gut when something is not right. Time and time again on the news you hear ' oh well, we never saw the children in the garden - they kept themselves to themselves' or we heard screaming but thought it was a film or other terrible things said in the benefit of hindsight. If I had good reason to believe a child was being abused or neglected then like the commenter above, I would never forgive myself if something then happened.

    Glad you're okay - wondered why you'd been so quiet lately. Computer probs obviously.

  10. You may have made a real difference. Just think in years to come the kids may wonder who made the call, who changed it for the better. Wholeheartedly you did the right thing.


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