How do I help my nephew?
I got a call from my 16 year old nephew tonight who was in tears. He told me that his mom had his brother beat him up until he went to his room. He said he was chocked, kicked in the spine, and punched repeatedly in the face. When his dad got him; his mom and brother said he tried to attack his mother. He said that he didn't try to attack his mom and it all started over laundry.
This isn't the first time I've heard stories from him about how he is treated at home. A few years ago, one of my other sisters tried to get involved. She called the state troopers and the department of social services. The investigations did go very far, but nothing happened. My sister was very mad that she was turned into the authorities and cut communication off from everyone but me.
I really want to help him out of the situation. I'd love for him to come stay with me for awhile or until he is 18 if he wished. I just don't know how to go about it without stepping on anyone toes. What I'm afraid of happening; is getting involved and loosing all contact with my nephew. Right now I'm his only outlet.
I looked into how he could be emancipated. It says that he must live separately from his parents. Isn't that considered running away? Is there any law in Alaska against harboring a runaway?
Please help me!
Concerned Aunt in Alaska
Re: How do I help my nephew?
Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard. We are glad that you reached out to us during this difficult time. It sounds like a tough situation to be in. Hopefully, we can provide some assistance for you and your nephew. It is understandable that you want to help your nephew and keep him safe, yet not stepping on anyone’s toes that might cause communication could be cut off. It sounds like you have been a good support, and outlet for your nephew about how he has been treated at home. We are glad that you have been there for him, and that you are someone that he can trust too. It is also understandable why you would be afraid of losing contact with him. We are sorry to hear that your nephew has been physically abuse, and mistreated this way at home. No one deserves to be treated that way, and everyone also has the right to feel safe in their home.
When you talked to your nephew were you able to ask if he needed any medical assistance due to the physical harm he went through? Do you know how long your nephew has been treated this way? It was good that your sister was able to contact the police and department of social services to make a report. Do you know if their case is still open? We understand that the police and social services were contacted with the best interest, and safety concern of your nephew. But it is also understandable that your nephew’s mom would feel like she was being “turned into the authorities” because of the investigation to make sure home is safe. We empathize with your situation.
The purpose of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to identify, treat, and reduce child abuse and or neglect, as well as to ensure that reasonable efforts are made to protect and maintain children in their own homes. You can make a report with CPS of any abuse and/or neglect on behalf of your nephew. The calls can be made anonymous, so that your confidentiality is maintained. CPS will take the information and determine what their next step will be. You can ask them also what they will do next. It sounds like your nephew experienced physical abuse, which could leave marks or bruises. It might be good to have pictures of any of the physical abuse and any documentation of medical services. The more information you can provide will help to build your nephew’s case. You can report any abuse and/or neglect by calling 1800-478-4444 or (907) 465-3191. You can also view their website at: http://hss.state.ak.us/ocs/ for more information regarding their services. If you feel that he is in immediate danger, then you should call 911. Another service that is outside of the police and CPS is called Justice for the Children. It is a national child advocacy organization to help youth when there might be inadequate and/or failure to protect a child from abuse or neglect. They can be reached at 1-800-733-0059 or you can view their website at: http://www.justiceforchildren.org/ .
It sounds like you have considered emancipation as an option for your nephew. A youth could live separately from their parents if their parents give consent. It is consider running away if the parents have not given permission for the youth to leave. Parents could then file a runaway report with the police at that point. If the parents know or find out who the youth has been staying with; they can charge that person with harboring a runaway. For more information, you can view Alaska’s website on emancipation at: http://www.state.ak.us/courts/shceman.htm or http://www.aypfalaska.org/. You can also try calling some of these resources for more information:
Alaska Civil Liberties Union (907) 276-2258
Alaskan Youth & Parent Foundation (907) 929-2633 (in Anchorage)
Alaska Legal Services (907) 586-6425 (in Juneau)
Kids Are People-Operation Runaway (907) 746-4080 (in Palmer)
We are a 24/7 non-judging, anonymous and confidential crisis line. We can help process through situation, discuss option in more detail, provide local resources/referrals and help in making conference calls to other services or agencies. We want your nephew to feel safe in contacting us if he would like to talk more about his situation or anything else he wants to talk about. However, we do let our callers know that if we get identifying information (age, city, state, address, phone number and name (s) of alleged abuser (s)), then we would be mandated to report abuse. We do not determine what is or is not abuse though. We also cannot provide legal advice since we are not lawyers. We are here for support and be a listening ear if you or your nephew wants to call. Our number is 1-800RUNAWAY (786-2929). You are welcome to call at any time and we look forward in hear from you. We wish you the best!