Child Neglect and Abuse
What is child neglect and abuse?
neglect and abuse is a form of child abuse. It
is actually the most common form of child abuse and is given far less attention
than child physical abuse and child sexual abuse that are generally perceived
as high profile forms of child abuse.
Definition of Child Neglect and Abuse
Child neglect is difficult to define as it varies from one society to
another. However, it can be defines as:
- A serious and most frequent form of child abuse.
- The persistent failure to provide basic physical
needs of a child.
- The failure to provide adequate supervision to
safeguard the welfare of a child.
- The persistent failures likely to result and cause
harm and the impairment of the development of a child.
Child neglect typically involves the failure to provide or meet the
essential needs of a child.
These needs are fundamental but can be easily neglected. Healthy
development of a child starts with adequate food and nutrition, clothing,
shelter, emotional nurturing, personal hygiene, social interaction,
supervision, and education.
The neglect of a child may occur when the parents or caregivers are
physically, mentally or emotionally impaired and lack the ability to provide
adequate care. Although these impairments may not be intentional, but in some
cases they are especially when alcohol and drug abuse is a contributing factor.
Different types of Child Neglect and Abuse.
There are different types of child neglect and abuse. The severity of the
neglect increases when a child is subjected to two or more of the following
types of neglect:
Physical Neglect of a Child
Physical Neglect includes
the obvious failures of the basic necessities for a child such as:
- Abandonment: Deserting a child
without making arrangement for suitable care and supervision.
- Expulsion: Removing
a child from a home such as ‘kicking themout’ without making
arrangement for suitable care and supervision.
- Nutrition: Lack
of food and nutrient can lead to poor physical growth.
- Clothing: Inadequate
and unsuitable clothing for the environmental climate. Such failure may
also include poorly fitted shoes that the child has outgrown causing
deformities in the feet and toes.
hygiene: Failure to provide and maintain basic hygiene
practices such as taking regular baths or showers, infrequent changing of
nappies and diapers, and improper cleansing of rectum or groin area all
which can lead to skin sores and rashes.
Physical Neglect: Leaving a child in a home with lack of
heating, sanitation and running water.
Medical Neglect of a Child
Medical Neglect includes
the failure to ensure access to medical care. It generally involves:
of medical care: Failure to seek medical help or denying
essential medical care and treatment for conditions that can cause long
term physical problems or that can impairs the natural healthy development
of a child.
medical care: Failure to seek timely and necessary
medical care for health problems that can cause serious complications.
This also includes preventative medical care.
Educational Neglect of a Child
Educational Neglect: Failure to
ensure a child receives adequate educational needs either public or private
schooling. It generally involves:
Truancy: Persistent absenteeism from school by allowing
a child to stay at home without a valid reason. It may also include
failing or taking the necessary actions to ensure a child (a known truant)
regularly attends school.
to enrol at a school: Failure to register a child
at a school and without providing adequate home schooling.
to allow special requirements: Failure to allow or
refusal of specialized help or remedial actions recommended for a child
with a diagnosed learning disorder or special educational needs without
Inadequate Supervision of a Child
Inadequate Supervision: Failure to provide adequate supervision to protect and prevent a child from potential harm. This generally includes:
of supervision: Failure to provide adequate supervision
appropriate for a child’s age. Naturally, the level of supervision of
toddlers will differ from the level required for adolescents.
to hazards: Exposure to hazardous objects (electrical
wires or electricity), substances (such as drugs. drug paraphernalia or
household cleaning items) or exposure to a hazardous environment such as
insect or fecal infestation.
to provide safety restraints: Failure to safeguard
the home (such as stair guards) or play environment (such as hazardous
gardens or areas with water).
forms of inadequate supervision: This may not include inadequate
supervision by the parent or caregiver, but the failure to collect a child
from school or babysitters without making suitable arrangement.
caregivers: Leaving a child with someone who is unable to
care for a child such as someone who is unable to care for
themselves; someone not to be trusted with a child such as a known child
molester or those under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Emotional Neglect of a Child
Emotional Neglect: This type
of neglect is difficult to detect as it doesn’t display the obvious signs of
abuse. It generally involves:
of nurturing affection: Failure to provide emotional support and
- Isolation: Lack
of or failure to engage with a child, denying interaction with parents or
peers inside and outside the home.
The lack of emotional nurturing or affection (such as hugging
and kissing) may not be seen as emotional neglect in some societies, as such
acts and behavior are not the norm; Yet in another, it may be seen as essential
for the healthy emotional development of a child. Therefore, child neglect and
abuse is perceived, by any given society, on how a parent or caregiver should
or should not behave.
Child neglect is the most frequent form of child abuse yet the
least recognized form as opposed to child physical abuse and child sexual
abuse. However, it is important to remember that the effect of child neglect is
just as detrimental as any other form of child abuse.
Return to the top of the page on Child Neglect and Abuse here.