I'm relieved to report that I have seen and spoken with the children next door and as far as I can tell they seem to be alright and in good spirits.
I've been monitoring the situation---the best that I can from across the breezeway---and I haven't heard anything remotely resembling what I heard on the afternoon of July 3rd.
As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.
We all judge each others decisions---that's just human nature. I expected nothing less when I started to write this series. If anything I'm guilty of judging why I don't see the kids in the apartment across from me playing outside. I judge why I see McDonald's bags and cups throughout the house. I judge why I don't smell home cooked meals or see a table being set.
So I didn't take it personally when I was attacked in the comments sections.
What I think that both the commeters on my various posts and I can take away is that we both don't have full knowledge of the situations that we're voicing an opinion on. Even if that opinion is (mostly) kept to ourselves.
But I'm glad this series sparked discussion and outrage over the alleged safety net that most people believe is in place for children in this state.
The primary takeaway is this: If you gut tells you something isn't right, act on that feeling.
To be perfectly honest with you, I had two conflicting gut instincts that were fighting with each other at the time---Calling 911 vs. what would have happened to that baby after the police showed up and left.
Two conflicting feelings, one horrible outcome. I was damned if I did or damned if I didn't. Despite what many have vocalized, I was putting the best interests of the child first with my inaction. I know some of you may not understand---I get it, but I made a call and I stand behind it.
Nonetheless when your gut tells you to call 911---Do it.
When you're on the line with the 911 operator ask them to send a car to the address in question to perform a well being check on a child.
If like me you didn't physically see the abuse, tell them what you heard. Provide facts on how long the incident happened and any other truthful details you can add.
If you want to call anonymously, that's up to you.
You also have the option of calling the DCFS Abuse line at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). Based on my experience if you're not a mandated reporter it is very difficult to report the abuse anonymously.
If DCFS actually does take your report they will send an investigator to follow up at the address provided within 24 to 48 hours.
A commenter on the Chicago Now Facebook page stated that they believed my repeated posting about this incident meant that I felt guilty about not reporting what I heard to the police.
What that person may not have taken into consideration is that I wrote the initial post days after the incident occurred. Moreover, I made a conscious decision to do so.
Not because of guilt.
Not because of shame.
But because if I was conflicted and confused about what to do when I heard suspected abuse going on, I knew someone else might be as well.
I didn't write this series to exercise my monsters; I wrote it so more of you would have the tools and knowledge to bring a few more of them out into the light.
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