Child Neglect


Neglect is experienced by some children, and it can happen in many ways. It can be in an offensive manner and not recognizable as neglect. This is one of the most common forms of child abuse along with physical, sexual and emotional abuse. However, parents and other members of the family are not aware of it. “Although child neglect embodies many variations, all pertain to caretakers’ failing to provide a child with age-appropriate care. In short, the child is deprived of the basic necessities that would enable them to thrive,” says Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.

What Is Neglect?

Children have basic needs. Some parents fail to meet these needs which may take any of the following forms:

Physical and medical neglect. This is the most common type of negligence. It may be having no time to attend to the kid or the child’s medical needs, not providing the right nutrition or leaving the child without a guardian even at a young age.

Educational neglect. Not allowing the child to go to school, not giving them a proper education, not attending meetings at school, and making the child absent in class for no valid reason, are forms of educational neglect.

Psychological or emotional neglect. It is difficult to notice because this form includes feelings and emotions that somehow parents misunderstand.  Ignoring children, not showing enough affection to their child or allowing the child to use alcohol or drugs is part of this form. “If you were emotionally or physically neglected as a child, it can be a difficult journey to healing,” shares Karyl McBride Ph.D.

The Federal Government said that parents who are fighting, either physical or verbal abuse in front of their children, is also considered neglect.

How Common Is Child Neglect?

According to statistics from the U.S. Government’s National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 78 percent of 700,000 child abuse victims reportedly suffered from neglect. It is also found in this study that 1,770 child abuse-related deaths came about because of neglect by their parents.


What Are The Indicators That A Child Is Neglected?

Child neglect can be a lack of affection and attention, but these are hardly recognizable unlike in physical neglect.

Here is a list of potential signs of neglect:

Physical Signs

  • Untreated medical problems.
  • Not aware of children’s proper clothing, not providing a sweater or jacket when it is cold, not giving an umbrella or raincoat when it is raining, and other similar instances.
  • Poor hygiene. Allowing children to be dirty, untrimmed fingernails, skin infections are just some of them.
  • Expanded stomach because of malnutrition.

Behavioral Signs

  • The extreme weariness that they cannot participate actively in class.
  • The child is stealing food from others which is a symptom of malnutrition or not enough food is being provided for him.
  • A complaint of Abandonment: If a child cannot forget the experience of being left alone, it is a big concern.
  • Absenteeism: parents may be unaware of it but leaving their child day in and day out even for no valid reason, and not showing attention and affection is a sign of neglect.

Long-Term Harm Of Child Neglect

University of Albany researchers found out that around 30.6 percent of these neglected children met the diagnostic standards for a possible lifetime traumatic disorder. Depression, dependency, passive-aggression, paranoia and antisocial disorders are some of the personality disorders that may develop in them. But recovery is possible for these victims of neglect. Individual or with the help of psychotherapy experts to assist them in coping.

Reasons Why Parents Neglect Their Child

Statistics show that there are many factors which cause parent neglect:

  • Lack of financial support due to poverty
  • Parents with difficulty in giving emotional relationship to their child
  • Alcohol and drug addiction problems
  • Depression or other mental health issues of parents
  • Large family in which parents cannot sufficiently attend to the needs of everyone
  • Single-parent household
  • Lack of empathy

How Can I Avoid Neglecting My Child?

Neglect can be avoided if:

  • With strong support from family members and friends. Don’t let the child feel he is alone or left out.
  • Shared responsibility of both parents. If not possible because of single-parent households, seek the help of the family members.
  • Having a child-friendly and safe environment to lessen dangerous incidents. Always secure the safety of the child.
  • Be part of a community that helps kids.
  • Parents who can afford must hire a babysitter or a nanny if you are not around to take care of your child if you need to work.

How To Save A Child From Neglect

Call Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 422-4453 if you believe that a child is being neglected by his parents. You can also report to your local Child Protective Services (CPS). If you are related to the parent, you have to call them out but make sure you know the whole story first before you intervene. You must consider all possibilities before taking action.

What Actions Are Taken In Cases Of Confirmed Neglect?

It is always an aim to preserve the family, but in some cases, removing a neglected child from their family is necessary. CPS will decide if children will go to foster care. Here are accounts to be considered:

  • If the child is in danger
  • Age of the child and if he has special needs or disabilities
  • Weak bond of the parents to their child
  • A chronic case of neglect in the family
  • If parents will go to rehab because of drugs and alcohol

As stated by Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW, “We need to have our emotional needs and development attended to every bit as much as our physical needs. And when our emotional life is neglected by our caregivers, our knowledge of self is stunted or pushed off track. This inevitably leads to later-life problems—depression, anxiety, addictions, attachment deficits, an inability to healthfully recognize and express emotions, etc.”