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Understanding Child Abuse: Neglect

Although I'm fortunate to have never experienced this type of child abuse, many young people do show signs of neglect. Therefore, while you won't read about my experiences in this article, I still feel that it's important to include the information here in this blog.

What is neglect?

The most prevalent type of child abuse is neglect, which is the persistent failure to provide for a child's basic needs. Young people may go without proper food, clean clothes, shelter, supervision, or medical attention. This may have long-term consequences for both their physical and mental health.

Types of Neglect

It can be challenging to identify signs of neglect because it can take many different forms. However, there are generally 4 types of neglect:

  • Physical abuse is when a child is not given the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, or shelter, or they are not properly watched over or kept safe.. Educational neglect is exhibited when a parent doesn't ensure their child receives an education.

  • Emotional neglect occurs when a child doesn't receive the care and stimulation they require. Signs of neglect here may occur through excluding, humiliating, intimidating, or ignoring a young person.

  • Medical neglect occurs when a child doesn't receive appropriate medical care. Dental care and declining or disobeying medical advice fall under this category.

Signs of Neglect

It can be very challenging to detect signs of neglect. Young people aren't necessarily being neglected just because they exhibit one of the symptoms. However, if you observe several signs that persist for some time, they might indicate a serious child abuse issue. Neglected children and adolescents could have:

  • Poor hygiene and appearance

  • Being famished or lacking access to food money

  • Wearing dirty or inappropriate clothing (e.g., no warm clothes in the winter)

  • Body problems (e.g., weak muscles or protruding joints)

  • Dental or medical problems (e.g., regular illnesses repeatedly occurring accidents

  • Poor social or language skills

How Neglect Affects Young People

Child abuse alters childhood. Neglected children may suffer both immediate and long-term consequences. Among them are: issues with brain development, running away from home, abusing drugs or alcohol, or breaking the law. These young people have a higher likelihood of having mental health issues, including depression. Difficulties in relationships later in life may also occur, including with their own children.

Which young people are at risk of this type of child abuse?

Neglect can affect any child. However, some kids and teenagers are in danger more than others. These include youngsters with complex medical needs, a disability (e.g., mental, physical, or larning disability), or premature birth, and those who are seeking asylum while in care. Other life circumstances (e.g. domestic abuse, substance abuse, previous child abuse history, mental health issues, poverty) can make it more difficult for parents and caretakers to meet their children's needs. When one or more of these issues occur, it can put a child at risk of neglect.

What should you do if you see signs of neglect that indicate child abuse?

A neglected child might not recognize that something is wrong. They might even hold themselves accountable when signs of neglect occur. If a child confides in you about child abuse or neglect, it's crucial to pay close attention to what they are saying and let them know that you will take them seriously. Let them know that they did the right thing by telling you. Avoid addressing the alleged abuser about signs of neglect. Instead, as soon as you can, let someone know what the child has told you.

In Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh, I share my story of surviving child abuse and later becoming a victim of domestic abuse. I'm trying to help people here by letting them know they're not alone. You can help my endeavors succeed by stopping by my Etsy shop.

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