Our expert says:
He certainly sounds like a very sad and potentially depressed and disturbed child, probably in need of care and perhaps treatment. Its hard to grasp the sale of the problem. Focussing first only on this boy --- he may himself be abused. You say he told you he had run away from home and they hadn't noticed ? Had this happened in the past, or was he as you spoke indeed a runaway, and maybe in need of food and shelter ? And you don't know that the other children are not in a similar state. Discuss the situation with the local child welfare agencies, who will then have a duty to investigate and take action. If you are able to help care for the children in any way, you can let them know that, and ask to at least keep contact with them so they don't feel so abandoned. Child services ought to try not to split the children up, though with a group of 5 that might be difficult. Separating them for a time would be unfortunate, but leaving them with untreated depression and neglect, perhaps abuse or worse, is a much worse option. There could be options ( welfare can inform you ) of your being asked to take custody, perhaps foster the children or some of them. Your instincts are right --- one cannot ignore such warning sins of something so wrong and so sad, with children.
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