Child neglect is "negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child, including the failure to provide adequate food, medical treatment, clothing, or shelter: provided, however, that a parent or guardian legitimately practicing his religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone shall not be considered a negligent parent or guardian; however, such an exception shall not preclude a court from ordering that medical services be provided to the child, where his health requires it." (Definition according to Alabama law.)
Neglected children's symptoms present as suffering from medical conditions, failure to thrive or malnutrition, which in severe forms may be life-threatening. More observable signs include the following: dirty skin; offensive body odor; unwashed, uncombed hair; tattered, under or oversize and unclean clothing; clothing that is inappropriate to weather or situation; frequent lack of supervision.
Signs of Neglect
Consider the possibility of neglect when the child…
· Is frequently absent from school
· Steals or begs for food or money
· Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses
· Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
· Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
· Abuses alcohol or other drugs
· States that there is no one at home to provide care
Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver…
· Appears to be indifferent to the child
· Seems apathetic or depressed
· Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
· Is abusing alcohol or other drugs
Physical neglect includes the refusal of seeking necessary health care, child abandonment, which is the desertion of a child without arranging for reasonable care or supervision, inadequate supervision, the rejection of a child leading to expulsion from the home and failing to provide for the child's safety as well as his or her physical and emotional needs. Other physical neglect includes inadequate nutrition, clothing, or hygiene; conspicuous inattention to avoidable hazards in the home; and other forms of reckless disregard of the child's safety and welfare (e.g., driving with the child while intoxicated, leaving a young child in a car unattended).
Educational neglect occurs when a child is allowed to engage in chronic truancy, or is of mandatory school age but not receiving schooling. Additionally, another form is the refusal to allow or failure to obtain recommended remedial education services or neglect in obtaining or following through with treatment for a child's diagnosed learning disorder or other special education need without reasonable cause.
Emotional neglect includes inadequate nurturing and affection, spousal abuse in the child's presence, allowing a child to use drugs or alcohol, refusal or delay in providing needed psychological care as well as the encouragement or permitting of other maladaptive behavior (e.g., chronic delinquency, severe assault) under circumstances where the parent or caregiver has reason to be aware of the existence and seriousness of the problem but does not intervene.
Medical neglect is the failure to provide for appropriate health care for a child. The child may exhibit signs of poor health, such as fatigue, infected cuts, and constant itching or scratching of skin.
Most parents don't hurt or neglect their children intentionally. Many were themselves abused or neglected. Very young or inexperienced parents might not know how to take care of their babies or what they can reasonably expect from children at different stages of development. Circumstances that place families under extraordinary stress—for instance, poverty, divorce, sickness, disability—sometimes take their toll in the maltreatment of children. Parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to abuse or neglect their children.
If you need help
Visit ONE PLACE Family Justice Center at 530 S. Lawrence Street, Montgomery, Alabama or call 334.262.7378 or if you are in immediate danger Call 911.