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Child Neglect: The Psychological and Sociological Consequences
Transcript of Child Neglect: The Psychological and Sociological Consequences
What Is Neglect?
NEGLECT is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's emotional and physical needs on an ongoing basis. Examples of neglect include failing to provide a child with food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, medical care or safety from harm. Emotional neglect can be defined as failing to provide a child with love, protection or a sense of worth.
Child neglect is the most common type of child maltreatment in Canada. (Tromce et al, 2010)
Child neglect may have more lasting consequences on a child than all other forms of child abuse.
The impacts of child neglect are not always visible in the child and so often it goes unnoticed and as the child grows older the impacts become more apparent.
Child Neglect can impact:
Health and Physical Development
Intellectual and Cognitive Development
Emotional and Psychological Development
Social and Behavioral Development (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2006)
Criteria for Investigation
This investigation will be split into three developmental periods:
school-aged and younger adolescents,
and older adolescents and adults.
The purpose of this is to compare the effects that child neglect has on each developmental period psychologically and sociologically and to see which of the two area's is impacted more.
My aim for this investigation is to determine the extent to which an individual is impacted by child neglect and whether it has a greater effect on the individual psychologically or sociologically.
Why is This Topic Important?
Investigating the psychological and sociological ramifications of child neglect on an individual can help explain the various mental and behavioral problems that arise in them as they grow older.
Investigating this topic answers the question of why people do what they do and what psychological and sociological factors may be affecting them in ways that they may not even realize.
Child neglect is not as acknowledged or as greatly publicized as child abuse but studies show that while certain types of abuse such as physical abuse leave physical scars and bruises, the effects of child neglect can be just as damaging if not more. (Tromce et al, 2010)
Neglect has a more significant impact on an individual psychologically rather than sociologically because specifically in the early stages of a person's life, it is crucial for them to have secure, stable attachments and relationships with their caregivers as that is when they are the most vulnerable and impressionable. Researchers such as Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) concluded that a secure attachment leaves for positive emotional development whereas the failure to form a secure attachment with a caregiver early in life can have negative affects on behavior later on in life.
Thurs, Dec 19th 2013
We are all aware of the role that both genetics and our environment (nature and nurture) play in our development. That fact is even more evident when looking at infants and toddlers. Babies grow and develop as they interact with their environment and learn how to function within it. So because their brain adapts to its environment, it will adapt to a negative one just as readily as it will to a positive one. This may result in the child exhibiting some form of cognitive delay and have lower IQ scores, language difficulties, and neonatal challenges compared to children who have not been neglected. (Child Wefare Information Gateway. 2006)
Other development impacts include:
Children tend to be less enthusiastic, more frustrated and angrier in problem-solving tasks
Demonstrate poor impulse control and less flexibility and creativity in problem-solving
Poor performance on standardized tests of intellectual functioning and low academic achievement
Problems in expressive and receptive language
Significantly different in moral development – may have difficulties with emotion regulation in compliance situations (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002)
Sociological and Behavioral Impact
The family is the first force to shape an individuals behavior and an infants first social interactions happen with his/her caregivers. The family is the primary agent of socialization and are responsible for meeting that child's basic needs and providing the needed beliefs to survive in the world. But when the child is neglected, they may become the product of abnormal socialization and therefore may display behavioral problems and antisocial traits such as:
Demonstrating impaired social cognition
Tend to be socially withdrawn engaging in few social interactions with other children (socially isolated)
Inappropriate modeling of adult behavior
Aggression (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002)
School-aged Children and Younger Adolescents
School-Aged children and younger adolescents may suffer from immediate emotional effects of neglect such as isolation, fear, and an inability to trust. This can translate into lifelong psychological consequences including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties. They are also at risk for severe developmental and cognitive problems, including grade repetition. They also have difficulty coping with the demands of school, lower scores on tests of achievement, and lack of involvement in learning. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2006)
Sociological and Behavioral Impact
Research shows that children of this age group who are exposed to poor family management practices are at a greater risk of developing conduct disorders and participating in delinquent behavior. (Fraser, 2000) They also have continued negative mental representations of themselves and others including the larger social world, social difficulties, and tend to be socially reserved and often avoidant in their peer interactions – tend to be unpopular with their peers having few reciprocated playmates. (Hildyard, 2002)
Older Adolescents and Adults
Most teenagers who have not been victims of abuse or neglect find their teenage years to be an exciting but challenging experience. Most teenagers act impulsively due to a lower part of the brain-their "gut reaction". Impulsive behavior, poor decisions, and increased risk-taking are all part of the normal teenage experience. But for teens who have been neglected, this impulsive behavior may be even more apparent. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2009) Neglected adolescents tend to:
Have an increased likelihood of personality disorders, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and disassociation in adulthood
Exhibit panic or dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or post traumatic stress disorder.
Have lower scores on tests of intelligence and reading ability (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002)
Sociological and Behavioral Impact
Society pays for many of the consequences of neglect. A lot of money goes into maintaining child welfare systems, judicial systems, law enforcement, special education programs, and physical and mental health systems that are needed to respond to and treat victims and families of child neglect. Indirectly, society is affected by the rise in juvenile delinquency, adult criminal activity and mental illness. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2006)
Have an elevated risk of delinquency, adult criminal behavior, and violent criminal behavior.
May have problems abusing alcohol or drugs.
May engage in sexual activities
May have fewer interactions with peers than non-neglected children.
May act socially inappropriate for their age. (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002)
After doing in-depth research into the psychological and sociological consequences of child neglect, the conclusion reached was that neither area is impacted more than the other due to the fact that both areas affect the other and are related. An example of this would be if a child experiences neglect that leads to a delayed development of the brain, this may lead to cognitive delays or psychological problems, which may manifest as social and behavioral problems. (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2006) If explored further, more people would be aware of the signs and symptoms of a neglected child and more children would be able to get the treatment they need. So many cases of child neglect go unreported because of ignorance and people being uninformed about the topic. A next step that could be taken concerning child neglect would be to take more measures to educate parents or young adults thinking of having children about the right and wrong ways to raise a child to try and prevent more cases of child neglect from happening in the future.
Statistics About Child Abuse & Neglect
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2009).
Understanding the effects of maltreatment
on brain development.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013).
Long-term consequences of child
abuse and neglect.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2006).
Child neglect: a guide for prevention, assessment and
Daly, Brian. (2010, October 26). Child neglect most common form of abuse: study.
Hildyard, K. L., & Wolfe, D. A. (2002).
Child neglect: developmental issues and outcomes.
Child Abuse & Neglect,
M. W. Fraser (Ed.), (2000)
Risk and resilience in childhood: An ecological perspective,
Souter, Mark. (2012, Dec 31). Ainsworth Strange Situation [Video file]. Retrieved from
Trocme, N., Fallon, B., MacLaurin, B., Sinha, V., Black, T., Fast, E., ... & Holroyd, J.
Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect 2008.
The Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect – 2008 is the third nation-wide study to examine the incidents of reported child maltreatment in Canada based on data from child welfare authorities.
According to this study:
There were an estimated 85,440 substantiated child maltreatment investigations in Canada in 2008 (14.19 investigations per 1,000 children).
Neglect and exposure to intimate partner violence were the most common forms of substantiated maltreatment at 34% each.
Failure to supervise children resulting in physical harm accounted for 48% of neglect cases. (Trome et al, 2010)
An estimated 235,842 maltreatment-related investigations were conducted across Canada during 2008.
Single incidents of neglect occurred in 32% of cases where neglect was the primary substantiated maltreatment, 68% involved multiple incidents.
Neglected children who are unable to form secure attachments with their primary caregivers may:
Become more mistrustful of others and may be less willing to learn from adults.
Have difficulty understanding the emotions of others, regulating their own emotions, or forming and maintaining relationships with others.
Have a limited ability to feel remorse or empathy, which may mean that they could hurt others without feeling their actions were wrong.
Demonstrate a lack of confidence or social skills that could hinder them from being successful in school, work, and relationships.
Demonstrate impaired social cognition, which is one's awareness of oneself in relation to others and an awareness of other's emotions. Impaired social cognition can lead a person to view many social interactions as stressful.
Child Neglect in Relation to Attachment Theory