Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely resulting in the serious impairment of the child's health or development.
It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing; failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger or to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or failure to respond to, a child's basic emotional needs.
Neglect may also result in the child being diagnosed as suffering from "non-organic failure to thrive", where they have significantly failed to reach normal weight and growth or development milestones and where physical and genetic reasons have been medically eliminated.
In its extreme form, children can be at serious risk from the effects of malnutrition, lack of nurturing and stimulation. This can lead to serious long-term effects such as greater susceptibility to serious childhood illnesses and reduction in potential stature.
With young children in particular, the consequences may be life-threatening within a relatively short period of time.
Signs of neglect
- Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children
- Constantly dirty or "smelly"
- Loss of weight, or being constantly underweight
- Inappropriate clothing for the conditions.
- Complaining of being tired all the time
- Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
- Having few friends
- Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised