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just pulling in information from the wikipedia

Just pulling in information from the wikipedia article on child neglect for the sake of readers…

Child neglect depends on how a child and society perceives the parents’ behavior; it is not how the parent believes they are behaving towards their child (Barnett et al., p. 84). Parental failure to provide when options are available is different from failure to provide when options are not available. Poverty is often an issue and leads parents to not being able to provide. The circumstances and intentionality must be examined before defining behavior as neglectful.

Most resources I’ve read have been very careful to point out and stress the importance of cultural relativity when it comes to neglect. Given that the research I read mainly covered the US and Canada, this is important because of the socio-economic factors that can lead to neglect (as well as cultural differences). Neglect is often observed in immigrant homes due to a lack of poverty and since poverty and such often is in immigrant or poc homes…

But note how this is also careful to mention intentionality. This isn’t just about how poverty (as one example) can reduce a parent’s ability to provide for their children. Rather, it is about intentionally (consciously or not) withholding care that could be provided if the parent wanted.

Example: If you were poor and went hungry often as a kid, this isn’t neglect if your parents were likewise hungry and there just wasn’t money for food. However, as in my case, if you spend a year or so having nothing for lunch at school other than a slice of bread and water because no one was preparing my lunches and I was too young to know what to do BUT there was actually food I could’ve brought. My dad simply didn’t care enough to make sure I was eating properly.

Child neglect is the most frequent type of abuse of children, with children that are born to young mothers at a substantial risk for neglect. In 2008, the U.S. state and local child protective services received 3.3 million reports of children being abused or neglected. Seventy-one percent of the children were classified as victims of child neglect.

I’m just pointing this out: most frequent type of abuse. And yet… it isn’t something that you hear about often and it is really REALLY hard to find resources and information about it.

ESPECIALLY. If we are talking about survivors/victims. Like, obviously I can find this wikipedia article, but there isn’t really any resources about how to heal from neglect.

Child neglect affects tremendously to the physical, mental, and emotional development of a child causing long term consequences, such as poor academic achievements, depression, and character disorders.

Look. The consequences of neglect are real. And serious. And important. This is why I wish, so desperately, that there were actual resources and discussions I could find about how to heal and recover from childhood neglect.

Because the stuff on trauma-related abuse just… never appears all that relevant.

Example: one of the areas where my dad was well and truly neglectful was emotionally. I literally never felt loved by him. At all. I have about zero emotional attachment to him and this is a state I’ve been in for quite some time. I think I remember one of the few fights I had with him when I was like 12 or something when I said as much. Of course, he hit me for saying we had no emotional attachment even though it was true.

But I can’t really map this experience onto trauma-related resources. My dad not loving me isn’t something that happened, but rather a continuous thing that failed to happen. But it impacts my daily adult life because I literally do not believe anyone who tells me that they love me. Not because I don’t trust or whatever, but because I don’t really know what it means, on a very fundamental level, to be loved by someone. I have no frame of reference for it.

Forms of child neglect include: Allowing the child to witness violence or severe abuse between parents or adult, ignoring, insulting, or threatening the child with violence, not providing the child with a safe environment and adult emotional support, and showing reckless disregard for the child’s well-being.


  • Physical neglect refers to the failure to provide a child with basic necessities of life such as food and clothing.
  • Medical neglect is when caregivers do not meet children’s basic health care needs.
  • Emotional neglect is failing to provide emotional support such as emotional security and encouragement.
  • Educational/ developmental neglect is the failure to provide a child with experiences for necessary growth and development, such as not sending a child to school or giving him or her an education. (Barnett et al., p. 90)
  • Depending on the laws and child protective policies in your area, leaving a young child unsupervised may be considered neglect, especially if doing so places the child in danger.

One thing to remember about these types and examples, is that this is about intentional in/action by caregivers. Not about whether or not you had access at all.

Example: medical neglect. In Canada we have universal healthcare. Thus, poverty/lack of insurance is not a motivating factor for being denied medical care by your parent (my dad in my case). And ‘medical care’ includes mental health, btw. In my case, this is all the times my dad forced me to go to school while I was sick rather than actually getting me any kind of health care. In 12 years of school I missed one day because of illness and this was because I got the stomach flu and was puking every 10 minutes. Literally anything short of this, I was in school regardless of how terrible I felt.

While the literature largely focuses on mothers, the role of fathers in neglect as well as the impact of their absence remains largely unexplored. There is still little known about whether mothers and fathers neglect differently and how this affects children. Similarly, not much is known about whether girls and boys experience neglect differently.

Putting this here as one example for how little research is done on neglect. How can we not know this? Especially when neglect is the most common form of child-maltreatment?

I’ve always known that my family circumstances were unusual. I was raised in a single-parent immigrant home, but my dad was the single parent. And he had sole custody while my white mom had visitation rights. For what little research and resources I can find, pretty much nothing has anything to say about families like mine.

Effects of child neglect can differ depending on the individual and how much treatment is provided, but generally speaking child neglect that occurs in the first two years of a child’s life may be more of an important precursor of childhood aggression compared to later neglect, which may not have as strong a correlation. Children who suffer from neglect most often also have attachment difficulties, cognitive deficits, emotional/behavioral problems, and physical consequences as a result of neglect. Early neglect has the potential to modify the body’s stress response, specifically cortisol levels (stress hormones) which can cause abnormalities and alter the body’s overall health. Research has shown that there is a relationship between neglect and disturbed patterns of infant-caretaker attachment. If parents lack sensitivity to their baby’s needs, the baby may develop insecure-anxious attachment. The neglectful behavior the child experiences will contribute to their attachment difficulties and formation of relationships in the future, or lack thereof. In addition to biological and social effects, neglect affects intellectual ability and cognitive/academic deficits. Also, children who suffer from child neglect may also suffer from anxiety or impulse-control disorders. Another result of child neglect is what people call “failure to thrive”. Infants who have deficits in growth and abnormal behaviors such as withdrawal, apathy and excessive sleep are failing to thrive, rather than developing to become “healthy” individuals (Barnett et al., p 86).

A study by Robert Wilson, a professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and his colleagues, showed for the first time that children under the age of 18 when they were moderately neglected in some manner by their caregivers had a 3 times likely risk of stroke over those with moderately low levels, after controlling for some common risk factors (they interviewed 1,040 participants ages 55 or older; after 3 1/2 years, 257 of them died and 192 were autopsied, with 89 having stroke evidence upon autopsy and another 40 had a history of it). Neglect, bullying, and abuse have previously been linked to changes in the brain’s grey matter and white matter and to accelerated aging. For further information, please see the link to the online news story article on the study, from the NBCNews.com Health VITALS blog, by unnamed LiveScience staff.[42]

Quoting this part at length to show that, yes, neglect really does have a major impact on children.

And it doesn’t help that we have no real frameworks or ways to articulate our experiences of neglect. Because it isn’t really the same as other forms of child abuse. I know this for myself, in part, because I also have experiences with some of the other kinds of abuse. And…

While not easy to deal with, I can talk to others about it and I’ve done a reasonably good job of trying to heal from them (surely, a seemingly neverending process, but at least something I can work at).