What is child neglect?
Child neglect is another form of child abuse. It involves the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health, physical, emotional or mental development.
If a parent or caregiver fails to act to prevent harm to a child, or their failure to act exposes the child to imminent harm, that is neglect too.
Child neglect can come in many forms, from mild to severe neglect.
In a case of mild neglect, such as a kid not in a car seat, reporting to child protection authorities may not be necessary. The observer can advice the offender (parent or care-giver).
In moderate neglect, a report can be made to the authorities, but that amy not be considered as a crime.
Severe neglect is a serious crime in many countries. If long term harm is done to a child, such as not providing a sick child with required medical attention, resulting in sever or deteriorated health condition, the child protection agency may get the law involved and applied.
Child neglect covers for main areas, as listed below:
Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, clothing, or lack of appropriate supervision)
Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
Educational (e.g., failure to educate, provide learning facilities to a child or attend to their special education needs)
Emotional (e.g., not paying attention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or allowing the child to use alcohol, drugs or get involved with crime)
DID YOU KNOW...
Laws on child abuse vary from country to country. In the UK, for example, The Children Act 1989 states that abuse should be considered to have happened when someone's actions have caused a child to suffer ‘significant harm’ to their health or development.
‘Significant harm’ includes:
1. Hitting or shaking a child (Physical Abuse)
2. Punishing a child too much (Physical Abuse)
3. Constantly criticizing, threatening or rejecting a child (Emotional abuse)
4. Sexually interfering with or assaulting a child (Sexual abuse)
5. Not looking after a child – not giving them enough to eat, ignoring them, not playing or talking with them or not making sure that they are safe. (Neglect)
— Sourced from rcpsych.ac.uk
Note that a pattern of neglect behavior is key in any case of neglect. In this lesson, we shall learn more about the causes of neglect, effects and how to tell that a child is being neglected.