Am I like flogging a dead horse ?
Last monday, my girlfriends 5 year old grandaughter came for an overnight visit,During the course of getting her ready for bed we noticed a lot of bruises on her and proceded to ask her how she got them. After some coaxing she said that her mothers boyfriend had taken his belt to her, so we decided not to let her return home,keeping her at our house, on tuesday I called the department of children and family services and reported him, explaining exactly the condition in which he had left her and informing them that we had taken photos of her injuries. ( these bruises were inflicted on the previous friday ) Come last friday,the D.C.F.S.showed up to begin their investigation which turned out to be a joke,by the end of the day they removed the girl and her 14 month old brother ( who he is also abusing ) placing them in our custody.and implementing a safety plan stating the children would not be returned to the parents until they are sucessfully enroled in a counseling program. What is the D.C.F.S. thinking ? does he have to kill these kids before they do something, I say this guy needs to go to jail, and I am left completely frustrated and crying inside knowing he is walking around free while this poor girl is in a world of terror that she will be returned to them at some point in time. Does anybody have an idea how I can get some justice out of this.(between 2000 and 2007 457 children died from abuse in Illinois )
The first thing to do while you have custody of the children is get the granddaughter in counseling. Work with D.C.F.S. for resources and so you understand your legal obligations and limitations. If you can, have the counselor make sure the 5 year old child knows to call 911 if someone beats her. All she has to do is call and set the phone down.
If possible, you do not do anything except as a last resort; your girlfriend and her daughter should be the ones involved in fixing this problem with or without the daughters boyfriend and you should be on the sidelines. Only offer support or at least let your girlfriend know are there for them. You direct involvement may create resentment because you are not blood.
Right now the police may not get involved for filing abuse charges because D.C.F.S. has the case but it wont hurt to check. Your girlfriend and ideally the daughter should be the one involved with only your support.
Do not try taking this public or in any way make enemies between the grandmother and daughter because that relationship is your best hope at a quick solution. You two need to consider what you do carefully, the risk becoming estranged is real and no longer being involved with the grandchildren when/if the mother gets them back wont help them. The grandmothers influence is critical in preventing a reoccurrence and staying involved. It would be best if she can help her daughter get some priorities straight. If the daughter can be persuaded to ditch this guy then problem solved. However, if you two push her away by your actions and pressure then he becomes her ally with a stronger hold.
If your girlfriend and her daughter do not have a salvageable relationship, then consider getting the biological father involved. This is the perfect moment for him to sue for custody. Also, because the children have already been removed from the home he may be able to prevent them from being returned until the custody case is settled.
In the future, if there is a next time and I pray there is not, call the police non-emergency line immediately and get a criminal investigation started, don't call D.C.F.S. the police have too. If the emergency room is being considered call 911. The police can be persuaded to bring charges especially if the mother can be convinced to press them. Also, do not wait until the next day to call because this says dinner and TV was more important than the child.
To be frank, I never had children because of my childhood experiences. These are just some ideas, a collage of the "wish I had/hadnt" from friends and coworkers over the years. I hope this helps or at least inspires even better ideas that work for your situation.
In Illinois call 1-800-25abuse (800-252-2873)
All these situations are very complex.I would have taken the child to the ER the day you noticed the injuries so proper documentation could be made as bruises etc diminish over time.
I disagree with the idea of publicity. It is possible the publicity could cause more psychological trauma to a child. There are other ways to spur action that may be more effective and less traumatic.
God, I'm so sorry this is happening, Albert.
Keep on the Department of Children Services to closely watch these kids and don't give up.
Your girlfriend, as the kids' grandmother, can go to court and get visitation rights...especially when there is a question (here obvious proof) of abuse.
Good luck and I'll keep you in my prayers.
I agree with robert and ian. Seek publicity as hard and as soon as you can. Even if I don't know what DCFS is, I do know that social services of this sort are highly allergic to bad publicity and, if there is a way to move them to action, that's it.
There are similar problems and situations with the authorities in the UK too.
Don't know how to deal with it except try try to do aomething.
In England there is a "Child Helpline" that does a lot of good work.
Don't know if something similar exists in the USA.
I would get a lawyer if I were you and call the newspapers to make this case as public as possible, then you'll see that DCFS get serious about this case.
Although I live in England I would advise you to: Seek the advice of a the best lawyer you can afford preferably by personal recommendation and ask for advice as to whether you should make this public. Although, on principle, I am much in favour of using the media to put pressure on public departments to make them take issues seriously there may be occasions when taking such steps may run counterproductive/against the interests of the child/ren concerned.... this may well be one of them This may sound strange especially considering the fact that immediate action should be taken to safeguard the child. If these allegations of child abuse are proven true in court - and from the evidence you mention it sounds likely that they will be - you will want to see a successful prosecution against the man on account of his actions. Too much media attention could make it difficult to obtain a jury as media attention could potentially be perceived by the counsel for the defence as influencing the public against their client...making it harder to secure a safe verdict/conviction.
I have prayed and will continue to pray that you are successful in bringing this man's actions to the appropriate authorities and that he will be prosecuted on the basis that the evidence against this man is accurate/true which it would seem completelely true from the account you have given.