This quarter at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, I am taking a class called â€œFamily Violence.â€? In this class, one of the most disturbing types of abuse that I have learned about is the neglect of children. Hard to detect and even harder to prove, it is the most common form of family violence between senior citizens who live with their families. In 1998 there were an estimated 903,000 victims of child maltreatment, and more than half (53 percent) suffered from neglect.
In an independent study, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse estimated that 3,140,000 children were reported for all types of maltreatment in 1994, and child neglect accounted for approximately 45% of reported cases and 49% of substantiated cases. Also, in 1994, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse estimated that 1,271 children died as a result of maltreatment of which 42% were attributed to neglect.
Child neglect is as specific a finding as child abuse, though it is more common and often more devastating. Despite this, cases of child neglect are sometimes investigated and documented poorly, simply because the definition of neglect is not clear to the investigator, who then may not be sure what precisely to look for. A definition of neglect allows investigation, collection of evidence, documentation, and court
The cornerstone of neglect is the concept of parental duty. Parents have duties because, until many years after birth, our offspring cannot look after their own basic biological needs and survival, unlike most animals, which can take care of themselves shortly after birth. Our children cannot gather food, protect themselves from the elements or from predators, or recognize danger. Thus, in the performance of this duty, parents do for children what the children cannot yet do for themselves. Parents thereby hugely decrease the chances of children's injury or early death.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System report defines neglect as "a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care." Unlike physical and sexual abuse, neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child. Physicians, nurses, day-care personnel, relatives, and neighbors are frequently t...
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.... Reasonable suspicion based on objective evidence, which could be firsthand observation or hearing statements made by a parent or child, is all that is needed to report.
Child abuse prevention is usually categorized into primary, secondary or tertiary prevention. Primary prevention can be characterized as attempts to influence community attitudes to child maltreatment - that is, community education. Primary prevention strategies also take the form of personal safety programs. Secondary prevention is aimed at support programs for at-risk populations, such as families with substance-abusing
caregivers. Tertiary prevention is managed by the various state child protection services, and is directed at preventing the re-abuse of children.
Child neglect is something that it hard to detect, and it is nearly impossible to get a conviction without solid evidence. Signs of neglect can quickly be erased through proper nourishment and a hard day of cleaning in someoneâ€™s household, which can ruin a court case. Most cases rely on the testimony of the person who reported the neglect and/or the social worker who worked on the case.
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