Child neglect comes in a form of child abuse, and it is actually a lack of meeting the child’s basic needs, which involves the parental/guardian’s failure to provide sufficient health care, supervision, nutrition, protection, their physical, emotional, social, and educational safety needs. In some child neglect cases, it is difficult to recognize, which makes it hard for the mental health care professionals to take early action in protecting the child.
The signs and symptoms of child neglect can be in terms of emotional, behavioral and physical in nature.
- Emotional symptoms involve; isolation, fear, and an inability to trust which can transfer into lifelong psychological consequences including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties. Cognitive delay at some level, lower IQ scores, and language difficulties are also related. Individuals who experience parental neglect are more prone to develop antisocial personality traits as they grow up. Parental neglect is often associated with borderline personality disorder, attachment issues, inappropriate modeling of adult behavior, and aggressive temperament.
- Behavioral Consequences: Not all victims of child abuse and child neglect will experience behavioral consequences. However, behavioral problems appear most often in child neglect cases. Child abuse or neglect appears to make the experience difficulties during adolescence. Aggressive behaviors, rebelliousness, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness can be observed.
- Physical health: an individual who experienced abuse or neglect during childhood is more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, lungs disease and liver malfunctioning, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity. Additionally, child maltreatment has been shown to increase adolescent obesity.
Observing one of the signs in a child from the above domains doesn’t confirm that a child is being neglected, though ever notice multiple or relentless signs then it could indicate a serious problem.
Together we can prevent child neglect by identifying circumstances which put parents or caregivers under stress and getting them the right help at the right time.
Zohra Batool (M.Phil, Clinical Psychology)
Student Advisor at Institute of Professional Psychology, Bahria University
Mehwish Mursaleen (Ph.D. Clinical Psychology)
Sr. Psychologist (Consult-a-psychologist.com & iCliniq.com)