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Redditor Asks If They Were Wrong To Call CPS On Their Neighbors Without Talking To Them First

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People who have rented in apartment buildings that share walls and ceilings tend to have at least a few quirky, funny, or truly concerning stories they could share on a rainy day.

But sometimes the more concerning stories also include children or animals, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor CheeseCrip29 made a difficult decision to file a complaint when they thought a few children were not in the healthiest situation.

But when they started second-guessing themselves, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they did the right thing.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for calling CPS (Child Protective Services) on my neighbors without talking to them first?”

The OP recently made a tough phone call.

“My roommate and I called Child Protective Services (CPS) on our neighbors, despite the fact we haven’t talked to our neighbors about it.”

“As of right now, my roommate and I don’t know if an action has been taken by CPS yet, and we complained anonymously.”

The OP had concerns about the neighbors.

“For some context on my neighbors, they scream at their children almost constantly.”

“They scream at them to shut up every single day.”

“By their constant yelling, I believe their children act out frequently and the parents don’t handle it very well at all.”

“It happens all day, every day, and frankly, I am sick of it.”

“(I’m a college student and the screaming is not conducive to a homework environment.)”

“My roommate confirmed that the mother smokes cigarettes inside (which is against our renter’s agreement). Our bathroom (which shares a wall) smells like weed often.”

“My roommate and I don’t smoke and we don’t have neighbors upstairs. (Nothing against weed, I just don’t like the smell.)”

The OP was second-guessing the call they made.

“They have at least two little boys, twins I think.”

“I also believe they have a little girl, though my roommate and I have never seen her.”

“I’ve only heard her screaming and crying through the shared walls.”

“About a month ago, my roommate called child protective services.”

“We moved in in August, and we didn’t call until the end of September.”

“We haven’t complained to our neighbors directly and our landlord is useless.”

“Are we the a**holes?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said it was important to reach out to someone who was qualified. 

“NTA. You aren’t trained or qualified to intervene. They are.”

“If they decide you jumped the gun—okay, there you go.”

“If they decide your tip has merit, delaying a professional response, or if the parents are serious abusers, warning them that their behavior might bring in CPS helps no one, least of all the kids.”TheFishJones

“They are qualified, OP is not, but has noticed something wrong and made a call to the people who can look into it. That’s exactly what CPS and social services are for.”

“It could be nothing but it could be something and saying nothing means something is more likely to happen.”

“And don’t talk to the neighbors about any of this, just keep noting what’s going on and let CPS know. Otherwise, it will just get ugly.”

“People don’t like others up in their business whether it’s right or wrong and there’s no need to let them know in this case.”

“I had to call social services on a neighbor earlier this year after they left their 6-year-old ASD nonverbal son alone in their apartment and he accidentally started a fire. I then had the neighbors around, yelling at me for ‘getting them in trouble with social services’, never mind that their actions meant their son could have died.”

“Bad parents aren’t going to admit their actions. Let the authorities deal with it, OP, you have done your part and hopefully, those children can have a happier future thanks to you not ignoring their situation.”Lulubelle__007

“NTA. It’s fairly practical. CPS will do an investigation and they’ll either find no reason to take action, in which case nothing bad came out of your call, or they will find a reason to take action in which case you may have helped some kids.”

“I mean some people like that might think to come after you if they know it was you who called anyway, so this is the safest route.”Loktan425


“You have no responsibility to your adult neighbors. Since you did it anonymously, there would be no reason to tell them.”

“Hopefully, it makes them a little paranoid about their out-of-control behavior.”

“Additionally, if they are this abusive to their own kids, what might they do to you?”

“You also did the right thing calling CPS for the kids. They may not do a lot, but it is important for children to understand that there are people who care about them, and that what is happening to them is not normal.”Additional-Tea1521

Others said to keep giving CPS evidence.

“NTA – it’s good someone is looking out for those children if they need help. Make sure you start documenting noise, screaming, yelling if you can (when, how long, etc.).”

“And don’t let up on CPS if you notice it continuing to happen.”Historical-Soup

“Just keep reporting anonymously and keep the videos dated and everything if I had to guess those would be very helpful in establishing a pattern of behavior.”ClientLegitimate4582

“NTA – Having lived with someone who was like this I wish our neighbors had called CPS every time, maybe help could have been provided to the benefit of the kids and my mental health.”

“Call CPS every time you hear this, they’ll then be able to establish a pattern of behavior. If you are concerned the children are in more immediate danger, call the police.”

“Your neighbor won’t care if you talk to them directly, and may become aggravated.”_DrClaw

Though the OP and their roommate were second-guessing their decision to reach out to Child Protective Services, the subReddit believed they did the right thing by calling. Though they could be wrong about anything going on in their neighbor’s home, it would be better for CPS to check it out and find nothing, for the sake of the children.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit