THe issues
Child Neglect

We all know that caring for a child no matter what their age is a lot of work. Children need a stable home, with enough food, clothing, supervision and love to keep them safe. When families don’t provide these basic needs, we call it neglect.  But most people don’t understand what neglect truly is and how it can impact a child.

THE FACTS

Neglect is commonly defined as the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the point that it impacts the child’s health, safety, and well-being.

  • In Illinois, neglect is defined as the failure of a parent or caretaker to meet “minimal parenting” standards for providing adequate supervision, food, clothing, medical care, shelter or other basic needs (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, 2017).

  • Neglect accounts for over 75% of confirmed cases of child abuse in the United States—far more than physical or sexual abuse (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

  • According to the latest Children’s Bureau Child Maltreatment report, neglect was either the main cause or one of the main causes in over 72% of the 1,670 deaths related to child abuse in 2015.

Children need to be held, talked to, comforted when they cry, and fed when they’re hungry. They need to go to a doctor if they’re sick and get medical treatment if they’re hurt.  They need to be cared for by someone who will watch out for them and make sure they have what they need.

THE STATISTICS
  • Neglect accounts for over three-quarters of confirmed cases of child maltreatment in the United States—far more than physical or sexual abuse (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], Administration for Children and Families [ACF], Children’s Bureau [CB], 2017c)

  • According to the latest Children’s Bureau Child Maltreatment report, more than 514,000 children were neglected in 2015, accounting for 75.3 percent of all unique victims of child maltreatment (HHS, ACF, CB, 2017).

  • In addition, neglect was either the sole cause or one of the contributors to nearly 73 percent of the 1,670 deaths related to child maltreatment in 2015.

  • Neglect is commonly defined in State law as the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016).

  • In Illinois, neglect is defined as the failure of a parent or caretaker to meet “minimal parenting” standards for providing adequate supervision, food, clothing, medical care, shelter or other basic needs (Department of Children and Family Services, 2017).

Effects and Impact of
Child neglect
The Impact

Children of every age from babies to teenagers can suffer from neglect. Not having their basic needs met for food and attention can impact a child’s health, their physical grown and even their brain development.  Children that don’t get enough food can have delays in growth and learning. They can even die from malnutrition. Children that are neglected often have:

  • Trouble learning

  • Low self-esteem

  • Social and behavioral problems

  • Trouble making friends and building relationships with others, and

  • Poor impulse control.

Some children who are neglected are put in unsafe situations with adults who physically, emotionally or sexually abuse them. Sometimes they see and experience things like drug use, crime, and violence. These impacts often last into adulthood.

Negative Effects on Children

Neglect can have a negative effect on children in the following areas (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012):

  • Health and physical development—Malnourishment, impaired brain development, delays in growth or failure to thrive.

  • Intellectual and cognitive development—Poor academic performance, delayed or impaired language development Emotional and psychological development— Deficiencies in self-esteem, attachment, or trust.

  • Social and behavioral development—Interpersonal relationship problems, social withdrawal, poor impulse control.

PREVENTION
Risk Factors:

While the presence of a risk factor does not mean that a child will be neglected, multiple risk factors are a cause for concern. Research indicates that many familial and societal factors, such as the following, place children at greater risk of being harmed or endangered by neglect.

  • Poverty

  • Dysfunctional family structure

  • Lack of adequate support systems

  • Lack of adequate family resources

  • Mental health concerns

  • Substance use disorders

  • Domestic violence

  • Parental childhood abuse

Protective Factors
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development

  • Parental resilience

  • Social connections of parents

  • Concrete supports

  • Social and emotional competence of children

  • Nurturing and attachment

What kids need to know
  • It’s okay to feel angry

  • They are not alone.  Other families sometimes have the same problems

  • They are not to blame for the neglect

  • Discover personal strengths and develop goals

  • Learn alternatives to aggressive behaviors

  • Learn to tell someone they trust when they do not feel safe

What can you do?
  • Offer programs and services which build upon the client or family’s social, emotional, and personal competence skills

  • Promote self-efficacy

  • Support the child or family in building relationship with other community providers and members

  • Structure environments to be non-threatening

  • Teach and model positive communication and relationship skills

  • Show children respectful, non-violent ways to solve problems

  • Help the child feel lovable and capable

IF YOU SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE:
  • 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873)

  • If you suspect a child is in immediate danger or harm, call 911 first.

Suspect Child Abuse?

CALL: 1.800.25.ABUSE

A Chapter of  Prevent Child Abuse America

​528 South 5th Street, Suite 211

Springfield, IL 62701

PHONE: 217.522.1129

FAX: 217.522.0655

© 2015 by Prevent Child Abuse Illinois