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Abuse and the failure to prevent it.

(69 Posts)
westerlywind Wed 19-Sep-18 21:49:09

I was at a Supermarket today. I was about to start checking out which I noticed a teenage girl in school uniform. I know that school. Anyway she was lalking to the lady who seemed to be with her. This school girl was swearing profusely and criticising the lady. Their progress at the self check out was slow. I then saw that the lady had arm crutches and the schoolgirl who was swearing and complaining about the slow progress was not helping and the lady with the crutches had to lift her shopping out of the trolley on to the belt then pass everything through the scanner and fill her bags. Meanwhile the teenage girl in school uniform did nothing useful. I continued to watch from a distance after I finished checking out.
I watched them making their way out to the car park. The teenage girl was complaining now about putting the trolley in the trolley park. The lady was parked in the Disabled Spaces. I watched all this and felt so ashamed that I didnt have the courage to speak out that the teenage girl's conduct was disgraceful.
I thought I really should do something about this as I do have expereince. I researched out council on line and made a call to their office. I was told that despite me reporting this there was no role for Social Work in the situation. The lady with the arm crutches is an adult and unless she reports it herself Social Work there is nothing they can do. Yet they say on their website that "If you are worried that you or someone you know is being harmed, is suffering from neglect, or is being abused, it is important to tell someone. Your report will be treated in confidence. Everyone has a right to be safe. ......If you know or suspect that an adult is being harmed then you need to report your concerns. Dont assume that someone else has already reported it. The person being harmed or neglected may not be able to report it themselves. Remember the person who did this may be doing it to others too."
Despite all this being on the Council's Social Services page clearly I was not going to get anywhere with the person that I spoke to.
It is no wonder older people and disabled people are so abused by family as well as strangers if this is the attitude of those tasked (and paid) to protect vulnerable adults.
Aibu to think that there should be a better adult protection procedure that someone saying there is "no role for Social Work" while their website says differently (or so I think from what they have written),
Also do you have any suggestions what other routes I could take.

JudyJudy12 Wed 19-Sep-18 22:02:50

In this case I would have agreed with Social Services. The older lady was capable of making a report if she felt it was needed.

You do not know the relationship between them or why the lady was tolerating this behaviour, I assume it was not that bad or you would have intervened, maybe a granddaughter who has problems at home or has lost her parents or a foster child that has problems or any number of things that makes the lady tolerate the behaviour.

Next time maybe just ask if help is needed.

I do agree though that we should all monitor and report if necessary the abuse of anybody.

Missfoodlove Wed 19-Sep-18 22:04:38

Do you know the girls school from her uniform?
If so email the headteacher.

gillybob Wed 19-Sep-18 22:10:18

Whatever you decide to do or not do westerlywind don’t give any more information about the school etc. on Gransnet.

westerlywind Wed 19-Sep-18 22:15:35

I would say that the Lady was more likely to be the mum than the grandmother judging from the age that I would have guessed to be in 40s.
It was quite bad but as the school girl would easily be 3 times my size I was cowardly. She was about 5 ft 6 ish and probably size 20 or plus.
I do know the school uniform, I do not know the family name but the school girl's description is quite distinctive. I also have the car reg no.
It seems to me that elder or disabled abuse is not taken very seriously in my area

notanan2 Wed 19-Sep-18 22:17:28

The police can sometimes be better at checking out welfare concerns than social services depending on the concern. Chain stores also have safeguarding policies and if you are concerned about other customers they will track the customer on CCTV and pass the footage on if it shows anything of concern.

However the OP did bring to mind an elderly couple I came across a while ago. Husband had a stroke, wife, who lived in same house, refused to do any care. Would leave him soiled/thirsty if carers didn't show up. Just ignored him. People were appalled..... until they found out the back story: before his stroke he had subjected her to years of the most sickening types of abuse.

I dunno why the OP made that memory pop back in my head as there isn't any background info in the OP but it did..

agnurse Thu 20-Sep-18 00:34:26

I think the usual standard is that cognitively intact adults have to make the decision to report for themselves. In the case of children, or adults who don't have all their faculties, we can report because they aren't able to make that choice on their own.

BlueBelle Thu 20-Sep-18 07:04:07

i agree Agnurse
If the teenage girl was acting in a nasty manner not helping her mum and swearing and being generally unpleasant I m not sure what you think the council can do The mother sounds as if she ignored everything (wise) and may have dealt with it when she got home
What is the relevance that the child is a size 20 maybe a very unhappy teenager that something had just happened to send her in a fury the mother sounds as if she didn’t argue or try to deal with it in public

OldMeg Thu 20-Sep-18 07:58:20

Hard to make a judgement on this one. I think if it was as bad as you say OP I’d have had a hard job not to say something to the girl at the time.

Nannarose Thu 20-Sep-18 08:33:36

It is always difficult to be wise after the event. My on suggestion would be to say 'can I help?' to both of them - then if you got abuse from the girl, turn to the 'mum' and ask again.
I am slightly surprised that a member of staff didn't do something, but this can be very difficult as we all have an idea of what the back story might be.

westerlywind Thu 20-Sep-18 08:41:52

Thanks for comment ladies.
The relevance of the size of the schoolgirl is that she was huge compared to the woman with the arm crutches and me too. Her open unpleasantness was horrible to watch especially as I have been a victim of similar which had gone on for over 10 years and which escalated to complete destruction of every ounce of confidence I ever had and physical violence. I was well under the abusive control but I was not lacking in intelligence. It takes a lot to speak out and as a result of the outcome of my telephone conversation on this lady's behalf I would hesitate even more to speak about my experiences.
How many others are being treated similarly? There needs to be more understanding and help available and not just write abused people off. Women used to have to suffer domestic violence n the grounds that they had made their bed etc. This is the new and current situation for women which needs to be curbed.

BlueBelle Thu 20-Sep-18 08:42:51

I would definitely intervene if there was physical abuse going on but verbal abuse between family members however distressing you really can’t judge
I m not saying this is true scenario but we don’t know the mother could be very quiet in public but hit her with her crutches in the house just saying Also something bad could have happened to the girl and she was very frustrated the mother was not taking noticed but equally she could just be a little sxxx We really don’t know and social services are pulled to pieces trying to go to all the major abuse cases I really don’t know why they could possibly do about such a flimsy complaint although I totally understand why you felt better for doing so

Iam64 Thu 20-Sep-18 09:12:48

It sounds as though one of the issues here is that watching this had the OP re-visiting her own difficult experiences. She wanted to "do something' but wasn't confident enough to offer to help in some way.
A very overweight teenager behaving obnoxiously to her mother (possibly her mother) in a public place, with no response for the mother suggests both are under huge stress. Many children find themselves in a caring role with parents with the result that tensions build. It's another area where austerity cuts impact on the already low levels of support available. Bernardos used to operate services for young carers in some areas but l.a. cuts to charity funds have led to the end of many such services. Some l.a. social work teams still offer support to child carers - we don't know enough about this situation to judge imo.

westerlywind Thu 20-Sep-18 09:17:26

Bluebelle - I did not feel better for having made a telephone call to Social Services.
Maybe this is the way things are and I just have to accept it.
This is contrary to a recent Action on Elder Abuse seminar although this particular lady would not have been in the right age group.

Luckygirl Thu 20-Sep-18 09:39:55

Difficult one - part of me feels that this sort of behaviour is not unknown with teenage girls and that one should not assume that just because the mother uses crutches she is not able to stand up for herself away from the public gaze.

GabriellaG Thu 20-Sep-18 12:23:14

You took the car reg number and spent quite some time eyeing them up even when you's finished your shopping.
I suggest that you mind your own business and find a hobby, instead of thinking you should interfere and note the girl's school and her weight and height.
I pity your neighbours.

GabriellaG Thu 20-Sep-18 12:24:46

You'd not you's and should be a question mark ending that sentence. blush

Sugarpufffairy Thu 20-Sep-18 12:29:46

GabriellaG I hope you are never on the position of the woman with the arm crutches but if it happens I will know to leave you to it.

Jayelld Thu 20-Sep-18 12:34:13

From the limited information shared about the interaction between the lady on crutches and teenager, plus the lack of reaction from store staff leads me to suspect that the teenager might be autistic or somewhere on the ASD spectrum. Knowing how my GS reacts to the stresses of shopping in a large store and how my D, SiL and I don't react, I'd suspect that the adult was doing the same. (Only my opinion)

Sugarpufffairy Thu 20-Sep-18 12:35:26

Westerley I dont know what I would have done but I am glad there are people who care enough to try to help in bad situations

Molly10 Thu 20-Sep-18 12:35:40

I think the best option would have been to go over to the lady and asked her if she would like some help packing as she seemed to be struggling. If she accepted your help and the girl made nasty comments about the speed you could have politely and calmly suggested if she were to help we would all get it sorted much quicker as many hands make light work.

You could also look out for the lady, if you recognise her, on another occasion and mention what you saw and ask her if she felt she needed more help or support. Her response without the girl being there will be all telling.

Be very careful about other involvement as it could turn round to smack you in the face.

Telly Thu 20-Sep-18 12:53:57

The chances are that had you said anything they would both have rounded on you. The woman may have been disabled but was not asking for help. There has to be a limit on what can possibly be done. I would say it is different if the person were mentally incapable or a child. You can hardly go to the school and request an identity parade after all. There's nothing you can do but feel sorry for the pair, I don't think anyone would have done anything different in the circumstances.

GabriellaG Thu 20-Sep-18 12:54:45

Lol...I'm far too outspoken, independent and self-confident to ever allow someone talk to me as the girl in the shop purportedly did to the woman she was with.
We don't know the full story, only a one-sided 3rd party version.
No-one I know would dream of acting like either the schoolgirl or the bystander/OP.

123kitty Thu 20-Sep-18 13:03:57

Maybe the young girl has autism (for example). The adult was possibly dealing with the problem as only family would know how best to do. I agree you could have offered
practical help with loading the shopping, but not sure why you thought SS should get involved.

mabon1 Thu 20-Sep-18 13:10:18

Clearly you didn't have the guts to ask the lady if she needed help, so get over it and if you see this kind of thing happening again do something about it. I did step in once when a woman was hitting her small child and saying "I'll murder you" and I was given a load of abuse. Can't win can one?