According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment in the U.S. In 2013 alone, an estimated 539,805 children were neglected — that’s 79.5% of all maltreatment victims.
What is Neglect?
Neglect is defined 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.” Poverty is mistaken for neglect — but they are not the same. Poor families do not have the means to provide adequate care — neglectful parents and caregivers do.
Types of Child Neglect
Physical neglect is by far the most common type of neglect. In most cases, the parent or caregiver is not providing the child with all of the basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. In some cases, young children are left without proper supervision for extended periods of time.
Children who suffer from this type of neglect are being kept from the very thing that can help turn things around. The child may not be showing up to class, or in some cases, they may not be enrolled in school or homeschooling at all.
Children who have been emotionally abused often feel ignored, rejected, threatened and isolated. Their parents or caregivers have created an environment of fear, denying the child of the attention, social interaction, and emotional support they need to thrive. Unfortunately, this is the hardest form of neglect to prove and cases often go unreported.
In these cases, parents or caregivers aren’t providing adequate healthcare for their child, even though they can afford it or have been offered help. Protective services often get involved in cases where denying treatment could lead to life-threatening illnesses, disabilities, disfigurement or death.
What You Can Do to Help
Over the course of the past year, Voices for Children has provided educational, medical and emotional support to over 500 children in the Broward County area. Want to get involved? Find out more about our Guardian Ad Litem program or make a donation today.