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Tags parenthood , drinking

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Old 25th October 2003, 03:47 PM   #1
kittynh
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Drinking and parenthood...

This is a dilema that I've only come across twice in my teaching career. This round of Parent teacher conferences I had to face the fact that the one mom was totally shattered. Everyone has smelled the fact that she drinks, but we've explained it as, "maybe she had a few drinks at lunch, or dinner (or breakfast)". BUt recently she's come in so drunk that we've called her husband to drive her and the kids home. There doesn't seem to be much we can do, the husband knows, the kids come clean with their lunch packed (by the au pair). The kids are emotionally a wreck, and their performance reflects this.

What scares me is those days we aren't picking up that she is so drunk, and she drives the kids home. I know this is an illness, and I know only she can decide to make the change. It just makes me really sad that as a teacher I have to watch these kids falling apart.

I'm tempted to call the police with her tag number, and hopefully they will pull her license. BUt I'm a person that likes to "solve" things, maybe I should just accept that this is really terrible and all I can do is try to be a good teacher.

any suggestions?
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Old 25th October 2003, 07:43 PM   #2
Boo
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I can't believe I am going to say this because I do not trust the system when it comes to children, however the only intervention that may work at this time is CPS. I would say that this comes under the heading of child endangerment in a big way.

Professionally I would be legally obligated to report it. I do not know if that holds true in your state.

I know it can be done anonymously. I would also suggest that you run it by your administrator if you haven't already. Perhaps if if and your fellow teachers as group presented the issue you could get some other possible ideas or at least learn the legalities of the situation.

It really sucks that you and your co-workers have been put in this position and the dad is willing to risk the welfare and safety of his children that way.

For all the horrible awful things that will be laid at your door(undesevedly) if you do report this try to imagine how you would feel if this mom kills her kids and somebody elses while driving intoxicated.


kitty..........




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Old 25th October 2003, 08:28 PM   #3
kittynh
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Thanks Boo. I think I've decided to talk to the Au Pair, I'm sure she's seen a LOT, and I do have the number for CPS. I'm obligated to report abuse, but the kids are fine physically.

No matter what I'm going to report this. Problem is dad is an investment broker. money money money. If she would just stop driving I'd feel better. They donated a ton of money to the school last year, and I don't mean to be cynical, but I think the administration just sees the loss of the $$$. The teachers are on the front line. We don't run in the same social circles, so heck report her! I'm going to ask CPS not to disclose that I did report it. BUt I'm doing it in person (hopefully with another teacher or the au pair), because I want them to get all the details.

It's amazing that if this were a poor family, I just think this would have been reported in a minute. I work in a small town, and everyone KNOWS she drinks and drives. But hey, she drinks and drives a BMW!
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Old 25th October 2003, 08:39 PM   #4
Boo
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kitty,

Hang in there. Doing the right thing always seem to be the hardest. I hope the au pair is in a postion to help. Do you know if she drives? Perhaps a simple solution is to have her drop off and pick up the kids. Won't help with the neglect and homelife situation though. I will be thinking of you. Let me know how it goes. I have had to make those phone calls too.


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Old 25th October 2003, 08:49 PM   #5
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Kitty, if drink-driving is what you consider the primary issue here, would you consider talking informally to the local police, and "suggest" that they keep an eye on her (i.e. make sure she gets breath-tested regularly by them)? I don't know the law in NH on DUI...

The thing is, if she IS indeed regularly drink-driving then she is a danger not only to her kids but to the whole community as well. I would imagine, from what you describe, that she could pay any fines, but I also imagine that a steady stream of drink-drive offences might result in a visit to the judge and loss-of-license at some stage. Or even jail if there is persistence of offence. I also suspect there could be a rehabilitation program invoked. And money won't fix that sort of thing.

The BIG battle, as you and Boo know all too well, is to get this person to ADMIT that they have a problem. That is usually 50% of the way to doing something about it. She sounds in complete denial, of course.

This sort of thing always reminds me of my driving instructor (over 30 years ago!). One "driving lesson" he gave me was to spend an hour or so in a hospital emergency room watching the car accident victims arrive. As Boo can attest, this is NOT a pretty sight, and it was indeed a "sobering" lesson for a 17-year-old.
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Old 25th October 2003, 08:57 PM   #6
Yahweh
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Kitty, you have two definite options:
1. Call the CPS (in all honesty, the police system is incompetent, I'm not sure they will help too much)
2. Sit back, pray and wish nothing happens to the children for another day

You could try secret option #3, try talking to the mother yourself. Of course, this wouldnt make the rapport between yall in any way "good", it might appear "rude" in a way.

If something does happen, would you feel guilty knowing you allowed it to happen without interference.


Take it from me, alcoholism destroys families.
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Old 25th October 2003, 09:21 PM   #7
Boo
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Zep,

What your driving instructor did was more effective then the films I had to sit through. Personally I have always thought that 1st time DUI should involve community service in a Trauma ER for a few weekend night shifts. Spend some time running for coffee and tissues for the families of the victims and the staff.



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Old 26th October 2003, 02:39 AM   #8
Eos of the Eons
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From what I've seen in my experiences, you have to call when you see her driving drunk. She has to be caught in the act. Why are you the only one considering calling the police? I think because of the reasons you mentioned...money to the school...but what if you're not the only one tempted to call?

If you can do this anonymously, call the police when she leaves the school and give them her address as well. They can hopefully catch her as she drives down her block towards home. I'm assuming you have the license/tag number already.

I'm still wondering why noone has called the police already. How many times has her husband been called in?

Don't be an enabler. The woman needs a wake up call. You'll be doing her kids a favor because she will be forced to get help before she can get her license back, at least that's what happens around here. It's not your fault she chose to overdrink for whatever reasons. She needs to learn constructive ways to solve her problems.

In the best scenario, you can ask about calling the police, and see if anyone else agrees, and then call the police so that she is picked up close to home, and maybe noone will find out besides the school. The police won't be blabbing 'we got a call'. They can stop her and then tell her she was driving unsafely and they were concerned and that's why they pull her over.

Talk to the police at home first to see how they do handle these situations. Then take it to the school if you can.

Good luck. I really feel sorry for the whole family. The mom is making things worse, and needs help. Then the rest of the family can rebuild too.
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Old 26th October 2003, 09:20 AM   #9
Jeff Corey
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In NYS, school teachers are "mandated reporters", in that they have a legal obligation to report behavior that clearly endangers children. The police should be notified. If a DWI arrest with minor children in the car ensues, then CPS Abuse Investigations and police detective investigate whether removal of the children from the home is warranted.
Often, this can be avoided if the DWI parent successfully completes rehab.
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Old 26th October 2003, 01:00 PM   #10
Graham
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In my (mostly second-hand) experience, alcoholism and dangerous irresponsibilty go hand-in-hand.

You say the kids are fine but how many times has their mom, for instance, left them in the car while she goes into the bar?

IIRC, you live in a small-town sort of atmosphere. Talk to the cops, get her pulled over.

If it takes a judge's order to get her on an AA program, so be it.

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Old 26th October 2003, 08:43 PM   #11
Peach Jr.
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Kitty, if I'm not mistaken, calls to report suspected child abuse are always confidential. At least they are here - it wouldn't hurt to check before you make the call. I think I would make the call myself. Here in Colorado all school personnel are "mandated reporters". Calling the police to report her if you suspect she's driving drunk - yes, I think I would do that too.

The problem isn't going away, no matter how much money the family has or how much they collectively deny what's going on. I hope for the children's sake that she can get help before she causes some real damage. Assuming she hasn't already.
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Old 27th October 2003, 01:54 AM   #12
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Call the Police, Call the Police, Call the Police....... Drink Driving and kids are too serious a matter to linger and who knows, this MIGHT just be the chock that convince the husband that he has to do something. But please, stop her before anything happens.
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Old 27th October 2003, 09:59 AM   #13
kittynh
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Hurrah! I called CPS, and they KNOW! What they didnt know is that she is driving! She had volunteered to give up her license, and is supposed to be attending AA meetings (she did rehab this summer one of the other teachers told me). Well, I put on two other teachers and we told them that she IS driving, and in fact dropped the kids off at school today, and that we have smelled alcohol. So, they are "taking care of it and thank you so much for calling". When I asked if we should allow her to pick the kids up from school all they said was, "Oh, she won't be picking them up. You can only release them to the father or the nanny". YEAH! I am so relieved.....

Lesson learned, ALWAYS call!
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Old 27th October 2003, 12:37 PM   #14
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Thanks for the update kitty! I am so glad to hear that steps have been and are being taken. I have been thinking about you and this all weekend wondering how it would work out.






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Old 27th October 2003, 01:11 PM   #15
Jeff Corey
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As Boo said...
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Old 27th October 2003, 05:30 PM   #16
Jeff Corey
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Hi Kitty so glad you decided to take some action about driving mom. The problem of course is not just that she's driving but what's happening to the children.

I have been a CPS caseworker for a long time and I have seen moms who love their kids get their act together very well. Somtimes if parents don't know how they are affecting their children they don't know how to change. I had to ask a judge to keep a women in jail for a weekend, not because she is a criminal but because she refused to see how her drug abuse was affecting her children.

Ellen Corey
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Old 27th October 2003, 06:41 PM   #17
kittynh
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thanks Ellen!

I know you are working on the front lines. I have the easy job -I just have to report it. The CPS has to deal with this entire family that is really messed up (but well to do). I did tell the head of school what I had done (with the support of two other teachers). She said she thought her "friend" had "got her act together". The head of school also said she wished she could have had the chance to "talk to her" and felt we had "over reacted". blah blah...


But I was told dad did the pick up today. Now I feel I have the whole school really looking out for these kids. Of course, the family can just remove them from the school. I just feel so much better knowing CPS has known, and is doing something about it. Plus, sharing with the teachers has been great. We run into far less of this than a public school (if only because of such a small student body). I'm going to suggest we have a workshop about situations like this (so I'm going to call CPS to ask if they can reccomend someone to speak on this). The other teachers are all for it. Thanks everyone (especially Jeff, Ellen and Boo)
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Old 27th October 2003, 07:25 PM   #18
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That's a relief! Good job!!
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Old 27th October 2003, 07:44 PM   #19
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Ellen has a very virulent rhinovirus that is going around. But she wanted me to thank you and the posters who described the duties of "mandated reporters".
I just discovered that teachers at private institutions in NY are exempt from that requirement.
That's bad, because if you're not mandated, you may be subject to legal action if you are publically identified as the person who filed the complaint.
So use a payphone and drop four bits on the perps.
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