Shirley is the neighbor who watched the boys while their mother was in the hospital.
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Shirley called social services based upon the way David was treated.... the things she witnessed.
From the text:
After several months, Shirley asked Mother why David was not allowed to play with the other children. She was also curious why David was punished so often. Mother had a variety of excuses. David either had a cold or he was working on a school project. Eventually, she told Shirley that David was a bad boy and deserved being grounded for a long, long time.
In time, the relationship between Shirley and Mother became strained. One day, for no apparent reason, Mother broke all ties
with Shirley. Shirley’s son was not allowed to play with the boys, and Mother ran around the house calling her a bitch.
A Child Called It