Child Neglect and Its Impact

When speaking of child abuse—neglect often gets swept under the rug. Some believe neglect isn’t a real type of abuse. However, not meeting a child’s physical, emotional, health care, supervision, educational needs and not providing safe housing is neglect. Neglect is definitely a form of child abuse that can have long-lasting negative effects on a child’s life.

I was neglected as a child and I still have vivid memories of going without food, clothing, emotional neglect and verbal assaults on a regular basis. I am now 60 years-old, and I still am fighting some of the long-term effects of neglect. I did not live in a safe environment living with an alcoholic, abusive father and mother. Countless nights, my sister would crouch down with me in a hiding place to keep our drunken Dad from taking us in the car. He would come home drunk and start screaming and fighting with our mother. I still to this day can hear them screaming at each other. One night, my Dad was actually going to shoot our mother!

I went to school with no clothes, shoes, jacket and no lunch money that landed me in a lot of trouble and humiliation by teachers. I was yelled out by teachers over not having lunch money and for not wearing a jacket. I didn’t have a jacket to wear. Now, I hoard clothes and shoes and overeat because we often went without food. We did without having our basic needs met because our Dad would go to bars when he was paid and spend his money on booze, gambling, and other women. He made really good money being a coal miner.
Child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse. Out of the abuse and neglect cases reported—71% was for neglect. Maltreated children are five times more like to show up in an emergency room for suicidal behavior. If the neglect started before the age of two children are at risk for developing lifelong health issues, emotional, and social problems.
An expectant mother using drugs is another form of neglect.

As you can see, the definition of child neglect is very broad and can have long-term negative effects on child development, both physically and emotionally. Leaving a child alone is a definite form of neglect.

Child neglect has been broken down into levels of severity for mostly government agencies. Mild neglect is considered to be something like not using the proper car seat for your child. Moderate neglect means there has already been some harm done to the child. Not having a jacket for school would be considered moderate neglect. Severe neglect is considered not providing medical attention to a sick child or a child with a disease.