According to the National Child Abuse Statistics of the Childhelp Foundation, about 78.3% of the children are victims of child neglect each year.
Negligence of children by parents, guardians, teachers, or by the other concerned people is one of the numerous forms of child maltreatment, which tends to adversely affect their minds in the long run. Child neglect, on a primary level, refers to depriving a child of his/her basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. The issue also encompasses the failure on the part of the child’s guardians and/or caregivers to provide him/her with basic supervision, education, and health care. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that millions and millions of children all over the world are subject to neglect in one form or the other.
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), child neglect is “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”. More often than not, people coming in contact with a child everyday or frequently, can easily make out if a child is facing neglect at home, school, etc. This is because child neglect, be it in case of any child, displays a certain determined pattern of changes in his/her behavior at various levels. For instance, a child who is neglected at home by his/her parents, may not be confident in public or may find it difficult to mingle with other children of his/her age group.
Negligence of a child or child neglect is of various types. These include:
✦ The child may not be given the basic amenities that are necessary for his/her survival.
✦ These may include depriving the child of proper amount of nutritious diet, providing adequate clothing to him/her, and ignoring his/her physical needs.
✦ Some of the causes of physical neglect may be attributed to the lack of adequate literacy and unawareness of proper parenting styles.
✦ Often, not attending to the child in his/her developing years, leads to some serious impacts on the child’s mind, that start resurfacing as he/she grows up.
✦ Moreover, neglecting the child at home may also lead to some grave consequences with respect to his/her health.
✦ Physical negligence in worst forms, is a type of child abuse, which may result in the child suffering from low self-esteem throughout his/her life.
✦ Unfortunately, emotional neglect is the most widespread form of child maltreatment. Ignoring the emotional needs, like providing emotional security, love and an affectionate hug to the child, amounts to emotional neglect.
✦ Often, the material needs of a child are satisfied, but due to the lack of an emotional cushion, his/her overall development is hampered.
✦ A child is emotionally neglected by parents, often unknowingly, as the parents may not realize that their child needs some extra attention and love.
✦ If the child is not able to share his/her feelings with his/her parents, it may result in his/her emotional alienation. As a parent, it is a necessity that the child is regularly spoken to and understood.
✦ One of the possible causes of a child’s emotional neglect may be that the parents themselves may have suffered the same during their childhood days, due to which they are behaving in a similar fashion with their own offspring.
✦ Moreover, parents may hardly have any productive time for their kids, owing to long hours of stressful work, months of traveling for business and work, etc. This may make the child feel like an alien, even at home.
✦ Leaving your child in an emotionally drained situation can lead to psychological problems like separation anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and lack of confidence.
✦ Its highly probable that they may look out for external sources to satisfy their needs and this may incline them towards company of friends, who have a history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, smoking, etc.
✦ Depriving the child of basic health care facilities such as regular medical checkups and vaccinations amounts to his/her medical neglect.
✦ One of the basic reasons behind medical neglect can be unawareness and/or ignorance.
✦ In many cases, the child plays a number of attention-seeking tantrums, owing to which, parents/caretakers often tend to ignore even the genuine complaints of the child. However, this can aggravate the problem and cause complications to the child.
✦ Another probable reason is poverty, one of the major factors, affecting children in many developing countries.
✦ Parents and caretakers cannot afford the medical costs of their child’s treatment and so, they leave them in the hands of fate.
✦ It is indeed unfortunate that millions and millions of children in many countries have no access to proper medical facilities.
✦ Education is an important part of life, and if in the formative years of a child, he/she is not allowed the access to reading, writing, and to inculcate analytical skills, it is tough for the child to compete in the world.
✦ This type of neglect is mostly rampant in families with a poor history of literacy.
✦ Poverty is yet another important cause of educational neglect. Failure to procure enough amount to pay the school fees, leads to parents making the children either sit at home or getting them engaged in some laborious jobs.
✦ Even in a few Asian and African countries, the female child is debarred from access to education, whereas the male child enjoys this privilege. In fact, there are many social taboos attached to gender bias in education, in numerous countries around the world.
✦ Educational neglect can pose a serious threat to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, as also on his/her psychological advancement and overall development.
Child neglect is often caused by varied factors, which are complex and, more often than not, intertwined with each other. In other words, it is highly unlikely that a neglect of a particular child is due to one single factor. In fact, in most cases, it is the result of numerous different factors, which collectively lead to people being negligent about children. Some of the factors that may cause child neglect are as under:
✦ Mental health problems in case of parents, such as depression
✦ Parental substance abuse and/or alcoholism
✦ Domestic violence
✦ Poverty and unemployment
✦ The child being the result of an unintended pregnancy
✦ History of child neglect in the family
It is very important to note that despite the fact that all these factors may collectively result in child neglect, a lot of it depends on the will of the parents and caregivers. For instance, studies have indicated that numerous families living below poverty line are not negligent towards their children, in fact, they strive to provide good care and love to them.
There is a subtle and profound difference in being just a father or a mother, and in being a parent. Just being a biological father or mother demeans and degrades the value of the beautiful relationship that the child shares with his/her parents. Parenting is just like giving a life and meaning to the child and making the child grow as a person. All over the world, there are campaigns and organizations working for the elimination of child neglect in its various forms. However, it is very important on the part of the parents and the caregivers to be aware of what exactly may amount to child neglect, and to display a will in order to curb this social ill. Moreover we, as responsible citizens, need to come out in the open and report any suspected cases of child neglect, so that we have a healthy and a confident future generation.