There are three clearly defined degrees of minors in our country, in all states. Firstly is
any person below the age of twenty-one IS a minor. Secondly is a juvenile minor, which
is a person who has not yet attained age seventeen. Thirdly is an infantile minor,
which is a child that is from birth through age eleven.
Also, in all states a parent is responsible for their minor children unless they have
been declared to be an emancipated minor. Examples of an emancipated minor
would be that the minor is on active duty with the military, or a minor that has
lawfully married, has one, or more children, who resides with the spouse,
and their minor child in their own abode. In some states this declaration of being
an emancipated minor must be done through the court system.
This brings us to the issue of which you are questioning.
No parent has the right to allow their minor child to violate any of the
laws or they are violating laws within this country, including those of the
health of a child, which, in most states is the direct purview of a Children
and Family Services department to investigate, and enforce. Every
citizen has the obligation to question such violations by reporting it to
the proper agency. Your thinking on this is exactly right, and proper.
For any person to think of talking to the parent after what you have
seen, and been told is the absolute wrong approach. It can even
be a dangerous approach. Some people just think they can handle
it, but in reality very few are really able to handle the mess they can
cause this way. Most who think they can handle things in a contact
with the parent are untrained to do so, and totally inept at such.
Their intentions may be very good, but their thought process is
You have explained enough of what you have seen, and been told
to be an excellent foundation for an investigation. Any parent who
has neglected their child to such a degree while themselves being
well kept, and appearing is most likely either directly violating the
law, or is a parent who has a child that is beyond their control. This
is a cause for court action for a Minor Otherwise in Need of
Supervision - Beyond Control of the Parent. Since the parent is
responsible for the child, they are automatically guilty to either
allow the child to get to this bad of condition, or to not seek the
proper help from the proper authorities.
As I see it in my experience, you have no real choice other than
to contact the DCFS of your state. You ARE a responsible parent
who recognizes those who are not. You must act on this.
(You already should remember my qualifications.)