Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment. Neglect is when a parent, guardian, or other caregiver does not provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect includes not providing food, shelter, supervision, health care, schooling, affection or support.
Child neglect can be characterized by both physical and emotional characteristics as listed below:
Children who have been neglected may have problems with emotional attachment, low self-esteem, anger and school.
Any kind of child abuse is against the law and has serious effects on victims. If you are suspect that a child is being abused, call your county child protective services agency. In Milwaukee County, that number is (414) 220-SAFE. To find the child abuse hotlines in other Wisconsin counties, click here or call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
Early intervention in child neglect helps a child heal faster, and reduces the long-term effects of the abuse on the child. Remember—when a child tells you about abuse, he or she is using a tremendous amount of courage, and is looking to you for help.
When a child tells you that he or she is being neglected, you should:
Avoid denial and remain calm. A common response to the disturbing news of neglect is denial. However, if you exhibit denial to a child, or become upset, the child will read your reactions and may be afraid to continue. Although it is hard, be as calm and supportive as you can.
Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain what happened in his or her own words to you, but do not interrogate the child or ask questions that direct a child towards a certain answer. This may confuse and upset the child or make it hard for him or her to continue telling you what happened.
Reassure the child that he/she did nothing wrong. It takes a lot of courage for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure him or her that it is not their fault and that you believe what he/she is telling you.
Call your local child protective services agency. It is better that you do not handle the situation on your own. Contact your county child protective services agency.
You can help a child recover from neglect. Here are a few tips for helping a child, and further resources are at the bottom of the page:
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