My partner has two younger sisters who at 16 and 11, when the eldest was around 14 she used to self harm, it was very stressful but with lots of support and counsilling she seems to have dealt with her problems and she hasnt harmed herself in nearly a year. However, the youngest rung me in floods of tears last night because she had fallen out with her sister and her mum and her sister had told her to kill herself and so she had smashed a picture and used the glass to hurt herself. Me and my partner invited his mum over to talk about this and the best way to help her. But when she got here all she could do was think about herself and say how angry she was and how selfish her daughter was, which is obviously not the way to deal with this. We suggest the best way to start is probably a trip to the GP to make sure there arent any underlying problems going on, but to this she responded that the GP would ring social services and take the girls away, because of her past (she was abused as a child) and that they wouldnt even stop to ask questions they would just take them because both the girls have done it now and she would be seen as a danger. This means shes pretty set on doing nothing about it. I just dont know what to do, im really worried about my sister in law shes only 11 she shouldnt be dealing with all this, and im sure social services wouldnt just take them away but i dont know what to do, has anyone got any advice?
the mums reaction doesnt sound to good it sounds very paranoid.
if the 11 yr olds reaction is to harm herself im wondering if she has seen this behaviour from her older sister,but i have to say she must have reached crisis point to have cut herself.the gp would refer her to child mental health services not social work.maybe someone could phone parentline and get some advice.
hope the situation resolves itself.
In terms of the SW - This is a misconception of social workers. One of the main principles/ethics SW follows is that it is best to keep a family together unless there is significant harm or danger posed by a person in close contact with the child that cannot be resolved (ie sexual abuse etc). I cannot guarantee that she would remain with her mum as I dont know the backdrop and history, but if the incident is not a result of neglect or harm on the part of the mother etc then there is no reason why they would unsettle her further by removing her from her family and family home. It is more likely that they would signpost to another service or provide family support in order to facilitate change and empower the child.
In terms of the self harm - I would suspect that from what you have said that it was an impulsive action and a one off. If this is not the case then I can only suggest that you provide her with emotional support and teach her about other ways to deal with her emotions. I self harmed for many years as I felt unable to control painful situations in my life that were caused by external factors (my parents alcohol problems etc). When I hurt myself it was like a relief and I felt like as I could hurt myself physically in the same way that others hurt me mentally I had some control over my life. This may not be the case for her but if it is then counselling helped me as well as getting away from the situations I had no control of.
She is very lucky to have someone in her life that cares so much and I hope that everything works out well for your whole family xx
I agree with Amore - SW do not want to take children into care - it is only done as a last resort and to protect the child from significant harm If it were me I would ring social services and ask advice or, as suggested above, parentline or even childline will give you advice. The mother obviously has her own problems and whilst we may sympathise, the needs of the children must come first. I know its really hard to consider doing this as it will set a chain of events in motion but if you don't do anything you may well regret it later.
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