Neglected Children
By Zainab Riaz

June 29th, 2009

Child neglect is the most widespread form of child abuse. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) child neglect is defined as, “a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so” Different types of child neglect include:
Physical neglect: Physical neglect accounts for the majority of cases of maltreatment. Physical neglect generally involves the parent or caregiver not providing the child with basic necessities (e.g., adequate food, clothing and shelter). Failure or refusal to provide these necessities endangers the child’s physical health, well-being, psychological growth and development. Physical neglect also includes child abandonment, inadequate supervision, rejection of a child leading to expulsion from the home and failure to adequately provide for the child’s safety and physical and emotional needs.
Educational neglect: Educational neglect involves the failure of a parent or caregiver to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school or provide appropriate home schooling or needed special educational training, thus allowing the child or youth to engage in chronic truancy. Educational neglect can lead to the child failing to acquire basic life skills, dropping out of school or continually displaying disruptive behavior.
Emotional/Psychological neglect: Emotional/Psychological neglect includes actions such as engaging in chronic or extreme spousal abuse in the child’s presence, allowing a child to use drugs or alcohol, refusing or failing to provide needed psychological care, constantly belittling the child and withholding affection. Parental behaviors considered to be emotional child maltreatment include; ignoring, rejecting, verbally assaulting, isolating, terrorizing, corrupting or exploiting. A pattern of this parental behavior can lead to the child’s poor self-image, alcohol or drug abuse, destructive behavior and even suicide. Severe neglect of an infant’s need for stimulation and nurturance can result in the infant failing to thrive and even infant death.
Medical neglect: Medical neglect is the failure to provide appropriate health care for a child (although financially able to do so), thus placing the child at risk of being seriously disabled or disfigured or dying. According to NCANDS, in 2005, 2 percent of children (17,637 children) in the United States were victims of medical neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Concern is warranted not only when a parent refuses medical care for a child in an emergency or for an acute illness, but also when a parent ignores medical recommendations for a child with a treatable chronic disease or disability, resulting in frequent hospitalizations or significant deterioration.
Online countless stories and news articles regarding child neglect are available like the story of a 2-year-old Port Orange girl who died after she was left inside a locked day-care center van in sweltering summer heat for three hours. The temperature inside the van could have exceeded 140 degrees, fire officials said. The story of Danielle however is the one that truly makes you wonder why some people even have kids. Danielle, aged 7, lived in a house with her mother and two brothers. She was found lying on a torn, moldy mattress on the floor. She was curled on her side, long legs tucked into her emaciated chest. Her ribs and collarbone jutted out; one skinny arm was slung over her face; her black hair was matted, crawling with lice. Insect bites, rashes and sores pocked her skin. Though she looked old enough to be in school, she was naked — except for a swollen diaper. When the detective carried the girl down the dim hall, past her brothers, past her mother in the doorway, she was shrieking, "Don't take my baby!". Another story tells us about an Illinois father who confessed to keeping his two young daughters locked in a cage in his truck while he worked. The trash and scrap-metal collector told police that he kept the girls, ages 2 and 5, locked up because he couldn't find a babysitter—and he didn't want them to run away. "My dad tightens both of us with his belt by my leg and my sister was on the other side of the cage tight with another belt," one of the girls reported.
A number of treatments are available to victims of child neglect. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, while developed to treat sexually abused children, is now used for victims of any kind of trauma. It targets trauma-related symptoms in children including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), clinical depression, and anxiety. It also includes a component for non-offending parents. Several studies have found that sexually abused children undergoing TF-CBT improved more than children undergoing certain other therapies. Data on the effects of TF-CBT for children who experienced only non-sexual abuse was not available as of 2006.Abuse-focused cognitive behavioral therapy was designed for children who have experienced physical abuse. Offending parents are included in treatment, to improve parenting skills/practices. It is supported by one randomized study. Child-parent psychotherapy was designed to improve the child-parent relationship following the experience of domestic violence. It targets trauma-related symptoms in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, including PTSD, aggression, defiance, and anxiety.


You can help a teenaged loved one who became addicted to drugs by bringing him or her immediately to a drug and alcohol treatment center.

Back to Article List