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Thread: Advice needed. Neighbor child with serious dry cough

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    Canadian Guru DaveP's Avatar
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    My 6 and 9 year old sons sometimes play with a 9 year old girl who lives up the street. Destiny, her name is.

    Apparently her dad is not in the picture, her mom barely is and she's mainly raised (along with her 6 year old brother) by her grandma who is confined to a wheelchair. I met Destiny a year ago when we moved to this neighborhood and she befriended my 6 year old boy. I rarely see her though, she and my kids hang out sometimes, but not a lot.

    Anyway, about 2 months ago I was in our local dollarama, and I noticed she had a horrid dry cough.

    http://www.hivvids.com/10455/Diagnosing_a_Cough.html

    ^^The first cough in that video is the one I mean. And she has it worse than that.

    I thought, wow, she's sick. And thought she'd be taken care of by her caretaker(s?)
    .
    Today my 9 year old commented on her awful cough. And he's used to my smokers cough, so it takes something for him to comment on someone else's cough. I looked up info on this after he mentioned this to me and it can be a sign of very serious illness. Especially since it has persisted for so long.

    What do I do?

    Maybe it is being addressed, I've never met her mom or grandmom. If I approach them and they are addressing it I'll seriously offend them for suggesting they aren't. If they aren't addressing it they'll be even more angry.

    I just need some advice on the right way to approach this.
    This thread is currently associated with: Dollarama
    Last edited by DaveP; Sun, May 20th, 2012 at 03:43 AM.


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    I think there are ways you can go about bringing up your concerns without offending the caregivers. I wonder if it has something to do with the air quality in their home? Mold issues?

    Ultimately, you have weight what is more important, the health of this child or the reaction of the caregivers. Not an easy decision, that's for sure.

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    Pawkeys
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    Hi,

    My parents did not care for me and I was a neglected child. I had a cough that was ignored for over a year. Finally, a neighbor took pity on me and told my parents that they were taking their child to the walk-in clinic, and that they could bring me in too to get my cough checked out. I was hospitalized within 10 minutes and put on major medication. I had the worst case of double pneumonia the doctors had seen and it was a touch and go for a long time. I spent months in the hospital without a visit from my parents. I will never forget what this neighbor did for me. She saved my life, but really, what I always think of is that she cared about me.

    Approach the caregivers or if you can't do that, then leave an anonymous letter. Call the girl's school and ask administration to approach the parents. You can also call Ministry of children and tell them your concerns (although they usually don't do anything).

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    Canadian Guru DaveP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marstec View Post

    Ultimately, you have weight what is more important, the health of this child or the reaction of the caregivers. Not an easy decision, that's for sure.
    That is an easy decision, the health of the child is more important. But I want to go for a positive reaction from the caregivers. Maybe offer to take the child to the hospital since we're going anyway (even though we aren't)? That's an odd thing for virtual strangers (even though our kids know each other) to say.
    I don't know this family, only this little girl and her younger brother, and them only barely. I'd hate to call child welfare if I was utterly wrong in what's going on, because I don't KNOW that they're being neglected.

    Oy.

    I don't know what to do.
    Last edited by DaveP; Sun, May 20th, 2012 at 04:12 AM.
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    Pawkeys
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    Then do it through their school. You would be amazed at what teachers and principals can do when they know there is an issue. And you can ask them to keep your name out of it.

    Deb
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    Canadian Guru DaveP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pawkeys View Post
    Then do it through their school. You would be amazed at what teachers and principals can do when they know there is an issue. And you can ask them to keep your name out of it.

    Deb
    You're right Deb, and thank you. I'll try to get my kids to bring her around in the next day or two (long weekend) and if I hear that cough, I'll contact the school on Tuesday. Perfect solution. Thank you.
    Last edited by DaveP; Sun, May 20th, 2012 at 06:07 AM.

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    Canadian Guru avoncallingu's Avatar
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    Dave, thanks for being vigilant about the welfare of this child! I'm a teacher/ former principal, so I'm in a bit of a different place than you are, but in Ontario, if a teacher "has a suspicion" that a child is being neglected or abused, s/he MUST contact Child Services him/herself - there is no passing off the responsibility to anyone else (ie principal). The Children's Aid then has the responsibility to investigate within 24 hours if they deem the situation to be serious but then THEY make the decisions about what needs to be done.
    I think the situation here is neglect rather than abuse which always makes it harder since there are usually no acute signs. Obviously this child goes to school and also obviously no one seems to have acted on any suspicions of abuse if the child is still ill.
    If you call Children's Services, they will act in an appropriate timeline and will not use your name unless you give them permission. Since the girl is in the neighbourhood and seems to have had this cough for a very long time, any one of the neighbours might have made the phone call. Also, this might be an "open case" for the child services and they may already know the family and have a relationship with them. They are usually very good at approaching the family in a supportive way.
    The issue with phoning the school is- Freedom of Information laws will prevent the principal or teacher from discussing another child with you. It may, however, give them an alert to go and internally investigate the situation. They would then phone child services if they are following procedure. The school wouldn't make any recommendations directly to parents about taking a child to the doctor, I wouldn't think.
    Of course, I'm speaking from the point of view of Ontario laws but I'm sure they will be very similar in Nova Scotia.
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    One Awesome Domestic Diva MrsSunshine's Avatar
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    what Im perplexed over is if the childs had this cough for more than 2 months how have the staff at the school not noticed it yet, or why she still has it. usually if a child has a condition that maybe considered contagious a teacher may suggest they stay home, or what the dr. has suggested/recommended. unfortunately by the sounds of it no one has clued in as of yet. hopefully once you give the teachers a heads up she's taken care of.

    on a side note I might have said to the grandparent. 'What has her Dr. said about her cough?" something along those lines that suggests she did take her.. but without sounding pushy. She then might say oh I haven't taken her or my grandma can't take me.. or maybe even they dont' have a dr?
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    Quote Originally Posted by pawkeys View Post
    Then do it through their school. You would be amazed at what teachers and principals can do when they know there is an issue. And you can ask them to keep your name out of it.

    Deb
    I agree.
    The teacher or principal can contact public health. The cough has gone on for a long time and if she is infectious, other students and family members may become infected.
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    Canadian Genius Insane's Avatar
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    I don't know...I think a teacher would brush off a student with a cough..even one lasting a few months; especially an elementary school teacher. Kids are constantly sick. My kids have runny noses from Sept to April every year! If the child was overtly sick they may intervene (ie call parents to come get child, ect...) but a cough, I could see why they wouldn't go gung-ho.

    Honestly, you can call your local child and family services. Maybe this mom is in over her head anyways, in which case, at the very least they would help this family access programs. People (general people, not anyone specifically) automatically assume the worst if they call children's aid. But at the end of the day they are social workers who want to make sure parents have the tools they need to give their children a warm and safe environment.

    When I was a teenager, a friend confided in me that her father threw a chair at her, cutting her head. She told a couple of us. I confided in our guidance councellor who told me he had a duty to report it. And he did. Later my friend was furious that one of her friends told. A few weeks later I confessed that it was I that told her secret. She hugged me and thanked me. Because her dad was taking anger management classes and things were so much better. All her family needed was to be plugged into some community resources. Nothing drastic. They just needed help and guidance. And maybe this family does too.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    Mastermind Lynn49's Avatar
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    It's so good of you to be concerned, Dave (why am I not surprised?)...you've received good guidance here, so I don't really have anything to add...if the teacher or principal doesn't follow through, then you're onto step 2.....Just imagine if something was really going wrong with her and you didn't follow through? Your secret is out, Hon...you're just a really good guy!!



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    Smart Canuck misstarbender's Avatar
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    I have a five year old daughter with asthma. you dont know what it feels like to not be able to breath. One shot of ventalin could make a big difference for her. she needs to see a doctor ASAP. It makes me so sad to think that this little girl could be seriously ill and her family isnt doing anything for her. (I hope this isnt the case) OP please take the advice from above and contact someone....
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    Medical authorities take breathing difficulties very seriously. My son, who has been suffering from a nasty cold, had to visit the medi-clinic this week as a drop-in patient and he sort of jumped the queue and was seen by the doctor right away because he was short of breath.

    That said, I'm not sure whether a person other than the parent or guardian can seek medical help on a child's behalf, ie, taking them to a doctor's office. Don't they need the health card or at the very least, a letter of permission? If social services/child welfare were called, how would that affect the whole family?

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    If your sons play with her maybe ask your oldest son to ask her if she is getting her cough checked out or something? Then he can tell you if the parents are doing something about it or not.
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    Junior Canuck kashkoush's Avatar
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    i think u should approach the family in a friendly conversation and ask if their little girl has been seen by a doctor, i personally had cough for several months and i was taking only homeopathic medications. i believe cough last long at least that's what happened to me.



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