This has got to stop

In my apartment building (about 250 households) there’s a little girl, about seven years old, who gets left alone at home sometimes while her mother goes out at night.  Three times in the past year I’ve seen her wandering about crying and calling for her mother. 

The first time I approached her and asked if she was okay.  She didn’t answer and simply ran away sobbing (wisely I suppose, as she didn’t know me from Adam after all).

The second time, one of the residents here informed the block leader, and he waited with the little girl in the elevator hall until her mother came home.  Apparently it wasn’t the first time he’d had to do this.

And the third time I saw her was just an hour ago, on my way home from work.  This time she wasn’t merely wandering around inside the apartment building, she was actually walking around outside in the neighborhood, dressed only in light clothing (it’s still quite cold here), obviously distressed and crying out loud for her mother.  Several residents saw her but ignored her, including me.  What can I do anyway?  If I approach her, she’ll run away.  If I complain to the block head, I’ll only be telling him something he’s already heard before.  And the child protection services are pretty much toothless here.

Where do you draw the line?

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4 comments on “This has got to stop

  1. olivia says:

    Can you talk to her mother? It sounds like she’s a single mother who desperately needs some help.

  2. Miko says:

    I’ll see what I can do. It’s hard to find out about the personal circumstances of other people when you live in high-rise public housing … I don’t even know the names of the people next door, and we’ve all been living here for several years! (I know the names of their pets, though.)

    In the meantime, I’m sincerely relying on the goodwill of neighbours to make sure that no harm comes to that kid.

  3. Karen says:

    Well, I don’t know what you can do, if CPS is useless. Here, they’d be all over it. Or the police would.

  4. Jeni Brown says:

    This is really sad. I hope, like Karen said, the mom is just a single mom who is struggling to get by and doesn’t have childcare options while she goes to work rather than she is just out partying. I don’t know what to suggest you do, either. Do you know what apartment they live in? Maybe you could get an introduction to the mom and child and offer just to do a drop by in the evenings to check on the kid if you are around at night?

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