Niece abuse claims against parents at school

#15

Postby Porridge » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:09 pm

Do you have any indication that these parents are open to receiving new information about their behavior?


As I said, I won’t be sharing my views on their behaviour as it will serve no purpose other than to deflect from the issue at hand. As Richard said previously, such an approach would most definitely result in a tit for tat criticism of our own parenting methods.

We shall do no more than share the facts from the Instagram messages and let them decide on the best way forward.

But in answer to your question, no, I don’t think they are open to any view on their behaviour as they clearly see it as normal (as we do our own). I’m not trying to criticise their methods, I only raised it on here to provide some background and to highlight that it’s odd compared to my own methods and those of those I’ve been accustomed to.
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#16

Postby Porridge » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:44 pm

Sister in law eventually came round (for another reason) on Monday and my wife told her the story of the Instagram messages. No immediate reaction or even a show of concern and not sure what the outcome for niece has been as nothing more has been said/heard.
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#17

Postby Candid » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:03 am

Did it not occur to you to let your niece know you were privy to her messages before dropping her right in it with her mother??

You yourself have said she'll be punished for it. Not only have things got worse for her on the home front, but she now knows she can't come to you or your wife for support.
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#18

Postby Porridge » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:27 pm

Candid wrote:Did it not occur to you to let your niece know you were privy to her messages before dropping her right in it with her mother??

You yourself have said she'll be punished for it. Not only have things got worse for her on the home front, but she now knows she can't come to you or your wife for support.


It most certainly did and that was what we were initially trying to do but if you read all of my original posts you will see that I said her mum wouldn’t let her come to see us to enable us to do so. Her mum wouldn’t allow us any kind of access to her. Nieces friend had already told her that we’d seen the messages so she was aware that we knew but we had absolutely no opportunity to discuss with her. Again, if you read all of my posts, you’ll see that the messages were on my wife’s phone following our niece having used it the previous day.

This wasn’t a decision taken lightly and was made with full awareness of the likely consequences.

So what do you think we’ve ‘dropped her in it’ about? If there’s a genuine issue with her dad, at least highlighting that to her mum gets it into the open. On the other hand, as other posters said, if it’s not true, her parents need to know of the potential implications in order to deal with it.

So without access to our niece to discuss first, what would YOU have done?

In some respects, I’m hoping our niece and her parents will actually see us as supportive family who will act in their best interests if something isn’t quite right instead of turning a blind eye and hoping it goes away.
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#19

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:20 am

Porridge wrote:So without access to our niece to discuss first, what would YOU have done?


Maybe you have, but you didn’t say.

What I would expect and would do is follow up with the parents. I would not inform the parents and then let it sit. I would expect that given I have informed the parents, that it is to be expected by the parents that I will be checking in to see what is taking place.

The conversation would go something like this...

“I don’t want to see my niece making unfounded accusations. That is unacceptable behavior. If something is going on, she needs help. I understand you are the parents, but as her family I will be following up. I will be talking with my niece about this matter. If you have a problem with me communicating with my niece, there will be a much, much bigger problem that will involve social services.”

The above intent might take place over several conversations and escalate given how the parents respond. End of story, I would be communicating directly with my niece or there would be a major problem.

Given you have been made aware of accusations by the niece, regardless of their legitimacy it is your responsibility to talk with your niece, albeit with the parents knowledge. It should not be an issue for the parents given you say it is most likely unfounded.

Again, if they have a problem with a family member that brought this to their attention following up and talking with the niece, I push back. Not being provided access given the circumstances is unacceptable behavior of her parents.

You posted last June 20th reference a June 16th communication. That is two weeks. By now, I would expect you have had a chance to talk with your niece about her behavior.

What I would not expect is that two weeks ago you informed the parents and you have done nothing since then.
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#20

Postby Porridge » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:45 pm

As it happens we went on holiday shortly after 20th June only returning at the weekend so no, we still haven’t had ‘access’ to our niece to discuss it directly either with or without her parents. Her mum refuses to discuss it further with us so we have no idea what was said between them afterwards.

We certainly don’t want to discuss with her in her parents presence as that will turn into a very awkward situation for her with four adults trying to challenge/question her about it simultaneously.

At the first discrete opportunity, we will of course raise it with her, but at the moment there seems no likelihood of us seeing her independently.

The initial follow up with her mum was very much a closed experience and in all honesty trying to push it with her will make for a very long and bitter feud. I still think the best option is to keep trying to speak to our niece directly and in isolation.
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#21

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:13 pm

Porridge wrote:We certainly don’t want to discuss with her...

At the first discrete opportunity, we will of course raise it with her,


Here is a challenge for you to consider...stop saying “we”. Tell me what you as in “I” plan to do about it. You are typing and responding in this forum, “we” isn’t. Your wife isn’t typing these messages. I understand you are saying “we” as in a team effort, but I think it might do you some good to think about it in terms of “I”.

I’m not talking about 4 adults confronting the niece.

I don’t think the first discrete opportunity is a good strategy. You would not want these parents discretely talking to your children about X, Y, Z issue.

If I was in your situation, I would talk to my wife and say that I will be talking with her parents and that I will be talking with my niece about the issue. There would not be a “we” as there would not be any need for a “we” in the situation. I personally, would want to achieve this goal in life, talking directly 1 on 1 with my niece about the issue. I would talk with the parents and I would tell them directly that this is my plan and that this is what will be taking place.

Again, this might take “I” several conversations with these parents. It might need to escalate, but I would be perfectly okay with this confrontation. I think it perfectly reasonable that given the accusations that I have access to discuss with the niece and to periodically follow up on this specific issue. If I don’t get that access, then I push the issue until I achieve what I want. This includes, if needed, bringing in social services if the parents do not see it reasonable that I have a short conversation with their daughter about her unacceptable behavior.

I understand that “we” has family relationships to consider, children to take care of, work to attend, holidays to go on, etc. There are some pragmatic realities for “we” to consider. But I don’t need to concern myself with that when it comes to having a conversation with my niece. I can have that conversation, regardless of what “we” might want or how “we” might wish to address what is taking place.

Possibly, the very reason the parents of the niece behave in a way that denies access to their daughter is because I am always deferring to “we”.

For example, what stops you from talking to one of the parents and saying, “Hey, I want to talk to my niece about what happened. When is a good time that I can take her for a scoop of ice cream?”

What stops you? Nothing other than fear and excuses that they will put up various barriers or protests. And why would they do that? If they are not abusing her and if they have no reason to believe you are some bad influence on her, they should have no problem with you taking out your niece for a one hour trip to the ice cream shop.

You as in you personally and not “we” could easily get this meeting if you wanted. There is no amount of excuses or pushback that you could not navigate to get that 1 on 1 meeting. The parents would know exactly what it was about, it would not be discrete.

Why...why is the above not possible?
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#22

Postby Candid » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:04 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:I personally, would want to achieve this goal in life, talking directly 1 on 1 with my niece about the issue.


I agree. I would have considered it a priority to establish whether the girl was telling the truth.

I would talk with the parents and I would tell them directly that this is my plan and that this is what will be taking place.


I balk at this, although it looks like it's already happened. If the girl is telling the truth, talking to her parents is likely to have escalated the abuse while simultaneously shutting down her contact with other relatives.

Taking her complaint seriously would have meant NOT going to the abuser parents about it, but to Social Services. What would you, Porridge, have expected to happen if you'd done that? Authorities can't swoop in, tick the parents off -- and then leave. Further action would have to have been taken to ensure her safety.

It appears you haven't taken her complaint seriously. You believe she's lying or exaggerating -- although you take issue with her parents for "making" her study and limiting her social world. And those things are really only concerns for the parents, not the province of an uncle-by-marriage.
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#23

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:20 pm

Candid wrote:I balk at this...if the girl is telling the truth, talking to her parents is likely to have escalated the abuse while simultaneously shutting down her contact with other relatives.

Taking her complaint seriously would have meant NOT going to the abuser parents about it, but to Social Services.


Let’s assume taking it seriously means you go to Social Services first. They report back to you that her complaint is unfounded, or may not report to you at all.

You believe them?

You trust Social Services over your ability to have a discussion with your own niece? You trust Social Services to have the same level of motivation and to know your niece and give it the appropriate attention? You think your niece will respond to strangers?

You trust the system more than your own eyes and ears?

I don’t.

I will be going to the parents directly. I will use Social Services as leverage as needed, but no way are they superior to my own knowledge and ability.

Social Services doesn’t know the parents or my niece. I do.

Social Services has no tools unavailable to me. If a person working for Social Services sees signs of abuse, they call the police. I have a phone. I know how to call the police if a crime has been committed.

I do not fear the parents further abusing or hiding their daughter anymore than would occur if Social Services was to come knocking.

What I think is going on with the OP is he sees his role more as a 3rd party. He wants to help, hence he is in here searching for options. But, his level of commitment to helping his niece ends at whatever information/ideas he can relay to his “we”.

It is a way to protect against potential personal future guilt. If it turns out the abuse is unfounded no problem, no guilt. If on the other hand it turns out a week or a year from now it is discovered the niece was being abused the OP can say “we” tried. The OP can avoid personal responsibility and thereby guilt by involving “we” in the equation.

Given the OPs concern, I must believe if he saw abuse taking place he would personally step in and take action. In this case, he is distancing himself. Why? In my opinion, his distancing behavior is a clear indication that he doesn’t think that abuse is actually taking place, just parenting that he doesn’t like.
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#24

Postby Candid » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:24 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:You trust Social Services over your ability to have a discussion with your own niece? You trust Social Services to have the same level of motivation and to know your niece and give it the appropriate attention? You think your niece will respond to strangers?

You trust the system more than your own eyes and ears?


No. My first move would be a conversation with the niece. If she's been using her aunt's technology to make these allegations, surely it's not impossible to have a conversation with her?

I will be going to the parents directly.


To me, that's like hearing the allegations of a battered wife and heading to the husband for confirmation or denial. Surely you have to ensure the wife's safety first?

I will use Social Services as leverage as needed, but no way are they superior to my own knowledge and ability.


I agree. Bringing in 'the authorities', who don't actually care, just makes matters worse. You don't do that unless you have to.

I know how to call the police if a crime has been committed.


But neither of us would do that unless we were certain, right?

I do not fear the parents further abusing or hiding their daughter...


I do, and Porridge initially claimed to feel the same way. He actually wrote that there would be 'punishment' for the niece... then went ahead and told the mother anyway. Or at least, the other half of 'we' did.

What I think is going on with the OP is he sees his role more as a 3rd party.


Not much has been said about the other half of 'we' being much bothered either way. I'm more inclined to see him as 'interfering'. Making a child study and sequestering her from her peers outside school hours do not constitute abuse, just a philosophy of child-rearing.

In my opinion, his distancing behavior is a clear indication that he doesn’t think that abuse is actually taking place, just parenting that he doesn’t like.


Exactly. But in his shoes I would still have approached the niece first, because if her claims were false or exaggerated I would expect her to be embarrassed about them... and that would have been the end of the matter. IMO the parents didn't need to know unless and until the claims were substantiated
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#25

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:46 pm

Candid wrote:
I do not fear the parents further abusing or hiding their daughter...

I do...


Note, what I wrote was that I do not fear it to any greater degree than having Social Services involved.

In ideal conditions I agree with you. First talk with the potential abused, whether a niece or wife, etc. But, given that ideal conditions are not normally readily available, I go straight to the front door and knock. There is no time like now. Inevitably it will be the parent or the husband that answers the door.

I don’t wait for the opportunity when the abused might be alone. I don’t sneak around or try to develop or arrange some avenue of talking to the abused discretely, because that can go sideways pretty quick in any number ways.

For me, I see the social media post and act immediately. I go straight to the home. If the niece happens to answer the door, great. If there is a discrete opportunity, great. But if the parents answer, I’m being direct about why I am there. I’m going to address a problem with my niece, then and there. I’m going to take her for a walk to discuss her unacceptable behavior.

If the parents push back, I ask why? Given the accusations, the parents have nothing to stand on. The parents are defenseless in that moment. They concede to me taking my niece for a walk or Social Services will be called, possibly the police.

It is pretty straight forward, either I’m taking my niece for a short walk or the parents can call the police and explain to the police why I am there. What do you think the parents would do? You think the parents will call the police to have me trespassed? No.

After talking to my niece, I would talk with the parents and it would not be a happy talk. If the accusations were founded we have one problem, but if the accusations were unfounded we equally have a huge problem.

I’m not happy with having to come over to the house of my niece and get to the bottom of this. I’m frigging livid. And the parents, they will sit there and take it. They will listen to every damn word I have to say, because why? Because they don’t want the police involved, they don’t want Social Services involved, they don’t want the embarrassment and potential legal issues. So, I guarantee those parents when confronted with the behavior of their daughter would shut the hell up.

Now, the above assumes parents that are less than accommodating. The above assumes parents that when told of their daughters behavior push back and don’t believe I have the right to take my niece for a walk.

If the parents are concerned about their daughters behavior and have no issue with my checking in on their niece, if the parents are forthcoming and display genuine angst at how their daughter has behaved, then there is no need to get all bent out of shape, there is no need to threaten or get aggressive. It can be a polite conversation, a nice walk with the niece, and then a polite conversation that is supportive in helping the parents in dealing with their daughter.

Again, ideally I agree that the conversation with the abused first would be nice to have. But, if that is not available, I’m not waiting.
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#26

Postby Porridge » Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:39 pm

Interesting to see progression of this thread between yourselves in the absence of my further input. Candid, you think I’m ‘interfering’ on the basis I don’t agree with her parents methods of her upbringing?.......you’re missing my motivation and concerns completely.

Interesting also that you think I’d go to the trouble of initially asking for advice here just because I might disagree with her parents methods of raising her! You think that is so significant in my life?

The other half of ‘we’ is my nieces biological auntie and she had equal concerns about why her niece was saying these things. Neither of us really believe there is any ‘abuse’ taking place but we have concerns that the control being exerted over her by her parents (which appears excessive in our extended experiences) may be contributing to the nieces motivation for making such claims. We did however want to keep an open mind given recent developments in things like #metoo.

As hard as it is to believe (and it’s impossible to convince you of the reality of the situation) we simply cannot get unique access to our niece.....short of knocking on her parents door as Richard suggested. Only today, we’ve tried to take her to a mutual friends birthday party but her mum forbid it!

Her mum has since told my wife that the reason behind nieces claims to her friends is to be liked, which was along the lines of my initial thoughts, but beyond that she refuses to discuss it.

Without a strong suspicion of real wrong doing I (we) don’t see it is in anyone’s interests to involve social services and police.

I’ll say yet again, her parents methods are at complete odds with anything I/we see elsewhere and is commented on by wider family (not just compared to my/our methods) and I/we firmly believe this is the at the root of things.

The situation isn’t worth a feud between my wife and her sister in my mind.
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#27

Postby tokeless » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:57 am

Her mum has since told my wife that the reason behind nieces claims to her friends is to be liked, which was along the lines of my initial thoughts, but beyond that she refuses to discuss it

If I found out that my child was saying things like that, I wouldn't be so dismissive and would be horrified that he could say that. My reaction would be more supportive than dismissive because he may be troubled. I find their response odd, even cold. I guess you know the situation better as you're there but it is odd in my opinion.
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#28

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:07 am

Porridge wrote:Neither of us really believe there is any ‘abuse’ taking place but we have concerns that the control being exerted over her by her parents (which appears excessive in our extended experiences) may be contributing to the nieces motivation for making such claims.


This may well be the case, but I agree with tokeless in finding the parents' reactions "odd". Given what you've said about being unable to speak to your niece now, I would go so far as to call it sinister.

We did however want to keep an open mind given recent developments in things like #metoo.


I don't think you stuck to that when you told the girl's mother about the messages you saw. Just as it was predictable your wife would side with her sister, it was also predictable the sister would defend her husband. Result: refusal to discuss the matter, and what appears to have been an escalation in keeping the girl isolated.

we simply cannot get unique access to our niece.....short of knocking on her parents door as Richard suggested.


With hindsight that was the best thing to have done, wasn't it? But obviously it can't be done now the cat's out of the bag.

Without a strong suspicion of real wrong doing I (we) don’t see it is in anyone’s interests to involve social services and police.


I wonder what would have made you suspect wrongdoing. Wrongdoers invariably go to great lengths to hide their wrongdoing.

The situation isn’t worth a feud between my wife and her sister in my mind.


As a worker in family violence and sexual assault services, I think the girl's claims needed to be taken seriously. We know this stuff goes on, and that abusers don't have the word tattooed on their foreheads. The mere fact that they've clamped down on her seeing you makes me suspect there's at least a grain of truth in what she said.

If she were being abused she would need the encouragement and support of a trusted friend or teacher in order to report it herself, in which case investigation would be mandatory. The police wouldn't just go away if one or both parents tried to deny access to their daughter.

Unfortunately there are good reasons for confiding in friends and NOT involving the police. If she's lying, she gets a stern talking-to about wasting police time and a black mark against her name. If she's telling the truth, she loses her parents. It may surprise you to know that a lot of abused children cling harder to their parents than those with a strong, supportive bond.

This is the conundrum your niece may (or may not) be living with. She needed a sounding board and she's been isolated from the friends and family who could give comfort and a reality check.

At this point you have two choices. One is to assume she's lying, put it out of your minds and do nothing at all. The other is to call the children's helpline in your country, tell them what you've told us, and take their advice.
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#29

Postby Porridge » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:40 pm

Hi Candid, my wife most definitely hasn’t sided with her sister (have I inadvertently given that impression somewhere?), they’ve had several run ins about their methods in the past but they never change anything so clearly think they’re right (as we all tend to do with our own parenting practises).

I really can’t seem to get thru to anyone here how ridiculously difficult it is to speak to our niece and I get the message “you should have” or “must try harder” to do so. The last resort to at least get it out in the open was to tell her mum so that at the very least, should there actually be any truth here, she knows that we know and it’s no longer a closed secret.....does that make sense?

Like I’ve said a number of times, I don’t think there is actually any truth in it and I do firmly believe that it’s the way she’s being parented and controlled that’s led her to seek popularity and acceptance using these methods.

Again, I’m not claiming any parenting superiority, just making an opinion based on what I, others and even Tokeless on here find odd.

I/we will eventually speak to our niece about it but rightly or wrongly, doing that in her parents presence will be ineffectual.

I/we don’t have sufficient belief (all things considered) that it needs raising to the authorities, a step which will bring with it irreparable family damage, stigma etc etc

The hope was that if her parents knew what had been said and reflected honestly on why that might be, something may change for the better. Again, I’m not saying my methods are superior here, just that on the face of it, our niece isn’t really being allowed to have the kind of childhood I had, we had or that we would want our own children to have. Absolutely agree that rules, discipline are very important, but so is at least a bit of ‘freedom’ to explore the world, have friends and grow socially beyond the boundaries of your own bedroom.
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