Should neighbor call Child Welfare?

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am in a quandary. A neighbor had a baby a year ago, announced with a banner on their porch. That baby has never been seen by any of the neighbors, not even their next-door neighbor. They never bring her outside, and no one has seen them in their yard. Other neighbors have had babies and they all play outside with one another. We have seen them take the baby out in the car maybe three or four times. Attempts by various neighbors to be friendly are rebuffed. I'm wondering whether to make a call to Children's Protective Services to request a welfare check on the child.

--Worried Neighbor

DEAR WORRIED: This child could have health (or other) problems causing the parents to keep the baby inside. You don't know what this family's lifestyle or work schedule is.

Over the years, many people have contacted me to say they grew up in terrible circumstances in a neighborhood where "not one person intervened." While I do not suggest being a busybody or necessarily judging choices parents make, our child welfare system is set up to be the advocate for children who cannot advocate for themselves.

If you are truly worried about this baby's health, safety and welfare, and if you have tried other ways and cannot determine whether the child is OK, then you should make the call.

DEAR AMY: Reading about "Perplexed's" struggles with connecting with her grandmother with Alzheimer's reminded me of my father. As a child, I frequently played checkers with my dad. Much later, when he was deep into the forest of memory loss, I pulled out a checkers board and placed it between us. He made the first move, using several checkers at one time. I followed his lead and soon we were creating lyrical patterns on the board. It was a new game, new rules and a new way of connecting.

--Out of the Box