I took down the post I wrote last night, about deciding to call CPS in a case of suspected child abuse. Elwood said the kid in question might not want it posted, and I see his point. Here's a follow-up, though, for anyone who was curious.
I hit publish as the phone was ringing: a social worker called me back at almost 11pm. Turns out that I don't have enough information for them to open an investigation. Parents have the legal right to spank their kids, and I don't know if he's being hit with objects or if there are bruises I can't see. I said, "Don't you intervene in cases of emotional abuse? Because this is not the same kid I've known since 2006. He is in a bad way."
She said yes, they do investigate emotional abuse. But I don't have the credentials to prompt that investigation -- the information needs to come from someone with mental health training. She said I could call his school and report my concerns to his counselor -- ask them to keep an eye on him. She said I could get more information about the physical stuff and call back.
It's a good thing that they don't open investigations casually. (This conversation, though, makes me wonder what exactly that neighbor lady said to the social worker she talked to in the summer of 2008!) I didn't feel brushed off at all, but she was pretty clear that they need something more substantial before they can proceed. I'm not quite sure where that leaves me.