What is Child Neglect?

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What is Neglect?While physical abuse tends to happen in specific instances or events, neglect tends to be more on-going.

Neglect often leaves no visible scars and therefore is more likely than physical abuse to go undetected. Furthermore, children may grow up believing that their circumstances are a normal way of life and therefore not seek assistance or confide information to anyone.

Neglect is the failure to give proper care or attention to a child across these areas:

  • Physical – Failure to provide needed food, shelter or protection.
  • MedicalFailure to provide necessary medical services.
  • EducationalFailure to educate a child.
  • EmotionalInattention to a child’s emotional or psychological needs.

Neglect involves the caregiver’s inattention to the basic needs of a child, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care and supervision. Living in poverty, in and of itself, does not mean that a child is being neglected. And, neglectful circumstances do not always mean a child is neglected.

Keep in mind that accepted standards of care and a community’s culture may be contributing factors to neglect while indicating a need for information and/or assistance. If a family ignores or fails to use information and resources, and a child’s health or safety is at risk, then child welfare intervention may be required.

A child who shows the following signs, may be a victim of neglect: 

  • Consistently dirty, unwashed and/or hungry.
  • Insufficiently dressed for the weather.
  • Needing medical care .
  • Improper dental care, loose teeth or infected gums.
  • Begging or stealing food or money.
  • Frequent absences.
  • Losing or failure to gain weight.

Note that these individual signs of neglect may not be a reason for concern. When several of these signs are combined or appear repeatedly, there is an increased possibility of neglect.

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse

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