Child Neglect 6

How To Spot The Warning Signs

One of the most prevalent types of child abuse, neglect results in more deaths than the other types of abuse combined.

“Neglect” is defined as the physical, mental or emotional impairment or the danger of impairment of a child less than 18 years of age as the result of the failure of the child’s legal guardian(s) to provide a minimum degree of care by providing the child with proper supervision as well as basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education.

Signs of neglect include:

  • Dirty skin and/or clothes
  • Ratted hair
  • Clothes that are too big, too small or overly worn
  • Lack of proper clothing such as a coat in the winter
  • Malnutrition
  • Starvation or always hungry
  • Health problems not address by the parents
  • A lack of parental interest in the child’s well-being
  • Injuries that are unattended
  • Lack of dental and/or medical care
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Lack of proper school supplies and/or lunches
  • Sleep deprivation

Most children who are neglected will also demonstrate a variety of behavioral problems including aggressive or destructive behavior, moodiness or depression, unfounded fear, cruelty and a lack of interest in schoolwork.

When infants are involved, the neglect can sometimes be more difficult to spot however, most neglected infants don’t have the normal responsiveness to adults that nurtured babies would have. Toddlers will often lack the normal learning progression appropriate for that age and as with older children, indicators such as a lack of care, clothing and supervision may still be fairly evident.

Parents or guardians of the child may also offer additional warning signs such as a general disinterest in the child’s well-being as well as abuse of alcohol or drugs. Neglectful parents rarely attend parent-teacher conferences and consistently miss appointments and fail to respond to inquiries and/or recommendations.

If you suspect that a child is being neglected, contact your local police department immediately. They can put you in touch with special counselors and organizations that can investigate the suspected neglect and provide resources and refuge for the neglected child.


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