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05 Jun, 2023
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child neglect

Child Neglect – H&S Education & Parenting

Child Neglect: Types, Causes & Consequences

What Is Child Neglect?

Did you know that child neglect is considered a form of child abuse? That’s right! Child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse that is not always easy to spot. It is when the caregiver or parent deprives the child of his/her rights to basic needs such as medical, emotional, physical, social, and educational. In order for a child to thrive and develop properly certain social, physical, and emotional needs are necessary and a lack or deprivation of these basic needs can lead to lasting scars where the child may have lifelong emotional, physical, and/or social problems or can even be fatal.

The 4 Basic Types Of Child Neglect:

  1. Emotional Neglect- Where the child’s emotional needs aren’t met with lack of psychosocial support, or where the child is permitted to use drugs or alcohol.
  2. Educational Neglect- Where the child is deprived of his educational needs it could also mean depriving a child of special education needs.
  3. Medical Neglect- Where the child is deprived of health care; both medical and mental health care.
  4. Physical Neglect- Where the child isn’t provided with necessary food, shelter, clothing, supervision.

Whatever the type of neglect, it is important to note that child neglect isn’t always easy to spot. Some of the main causes of child neglect include:

  1. Domestic Violence or Discord
  2. Mental Disorders such as chronic depression, bipolar etc.
  3. Alcohol & Drug Dependency
  4. Unemployment/Poverty
  5. Unplanned or Unwanted Pregnancy or Teenage/Young Pregnancies
  6. Terminal or Chronic Illnesses such as cancer

Warning Signs To Look Out For:

  1. Frequent school absenteeism or frequently arriving late to school
  2. Inappropriately dressed, or dressed shabbily, wearing ill-fitting, inappropriate clothes
  3. Begs or steals food or money
  4. Poor body/oral hygiene/looks unkempt
  5. Misusing of substances
  6. Inappropriate behaviour with others
  7. Untreated illnesses/ physical injuries/incomplete immunization status
  8. Frequently unsupervised and left alone to play

Consequences Of Child Neglect:

The neglected child’s overall mental and physical health is affected due to the maltreatment and the results can be lifelong and can even lead to high-risk behaviour such as substance abuse.

Some of the consequences:

  1. Developmental & Health Issues – lack of proper nutrition and diet can impair physical growth as well as lead to impaired brain development. lack of age-appropriate immunizations and health care can lead to chronic and even debilitating health conditions.
  2. Cognitive Impairment – a neglected child can end up with intellectual issues as they tend to have learning and language problems causing delayed or impaired speech/language development.
  3. Emotional Issues – a neglected child often has attachment, self-esteem & trust issues.
  4. Social & Behavioural Issues – neglected children ofter struggle to have and maintain healthy relations with others and can experience behavioural disorders with a high risk of substance abuse, early pregnancy etc.

Reporting & Treatment Of Child Neglect:

It’s important to always report a case of child neglect, however, laws vary from country to country and in some countries, only medical professionals, teachers, childcare providers, law enforcement officers can file a report. If a child is unsafe then it could also lead to the death of the child. Once the case is reported the safety of the child is ensured and the appropriate steps can be taken to make sure the child is not neglected. In Kenya, the government with the help of UNICEF has developed a strong legal and policy framework to protect children. Ther is also an official child helpline (116), whereby even a child can call if he/she is facing any kind of abuse.


child neglect
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