Ignoring, or better known as child neglect, in the United States is the most prevalent form of child abuse. Approximately 900,000 children in the United States who were victims of abuse and neglect in 2005, more than 62% were victims of neglect alone, including medical neglect. (US Dept. Of Human Health & Services [USDHHS])
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems (NCANDS), more than 42% of fatalities due to child abuse are the result of child neglect alone. An additional 24% of child abuse fatalities are a result of physical abuse and neglect together.
NCANDS defines neglect 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” (USDHHS, 2007).
There are four basic types of child neglect: physical neglect (ongoing failure to provide for the physical needs of a child, such as food, clothing, and shelter), medical neglect (refusal to seek medical care for a child when doing so would result in physical deformity or death, including refusal to act on medical recommendations for treatment to prevent such, even though financially able to), educational neglect (failure to enroll a child in age appropriate mandatory education or enforcing attendance at such) and emotional neglect (includes engaging in chronic spousal abuse in the presence of a child; threatening a child; failure to respond to a child’s basic needs for attention or affection; constant name-calling and bullying; isolating a child from normal age appropriate social involvement.
Neglect leads to issues of low self-esteem, lack of trust, relationship difficulties, feelings of worthlessness or being damaged, trouble regulating emotions, violence, and suicide. It happens in all socio-economic strata, not just low income situations. When the victims of this abuse are children younger than school age, the neglect often goes undetected because no one sees the child on a regular basis. Once in school, those around a child (teachers and other school personnel, medical personnel, scout leaders, etc.) that suffers from neglect will often notice poor hygiene, low weight or height (failure to thrive), unkempt clothing, lack of a lunch for school, etc. It is then that it is reported.
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