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Concerned About Kids In Your Neighborhood? 3 Ways To Handle The Situation

It's a tricky situation. If your suspicions are incorrect, you risk doing irreparable harm to the relationship you have with your neighbors. But if your concerns are valid, a child in your own neighborhood may be living in an environment that is unhealthy or dangerous. If you have found that you have growing concerns that a child in your neighborhood is being harmed or neglected but are unsure of how you can help, the following information can help you devise a positive strategy to help the child.

Befriend the parent or parents

The family that you are concerned about may simply be dealing with some type of hardship or crisis that creates a stressful atmosphere that is easy to mistake for possible abuse, such as financial problems, substance abuse or health issues. To find out more about the situation and possibly help the child, consider making friendly overtures to the parents, such as extending invitations for a casual dinner or asking them to join you to watch the football game or a movie.

In the course of becoming friends, you may discover that there is something you can do to help the family and the child you are worried about. If unemployment or financial problems are creating stress in their family, you may be able to assist them by offering to provide childcare so they can get a part-time job or take a class that will make them more employable.  

Include the child in family activities

Whether or not you are able to befriend the parents, including the child you are concerned about in your own family's activities, especially if you have a child of the same age, can be a great way to observe the child more closely. Group outings, such as a trip to the zoo, a park or a local pizza parlor are good choices for the first overtures.

Take appropriate action to keep the child safe

Remember that the child's safety is the most important aspect of any situation in which child abuse or neglect is suspected. If you know that something bad is happening to any child, you must take action without delay by reporting your concerns to local law enforcement or reporting it anonymously via a child abuse hotline.

If you believe that something bad may be happening, but you are not sure, it is still a good idea to discuss your concerns with your church or a local chapter of a non-profit organization that serves the needs of disadvantaged children, such as The Louis House Foundation. They will know what steps to take to find out more about the child in question and how to best help them.