Child Neglect, Abuse, and Health Issues

The problem of child abuse is widespread as it occurs in different communities. The issue is deeply rooted in socioeconomic, religious, and educational aspects. It is a very serious problem as it can lead to severe injuries or even the death of a child. Child abuse can take different forms such as physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. Regardless of the form, child abuse always leads to emotional trauma. A physical form often results in bone fractures or burns. A verbal form involves threats, humiliations, or other types of insulting behavior. Child sexual abuse is one of the most serious forms. It is an intentional exposure of a child to sexual activities. Acts of a sexual nature do not necessarily imply sexual intercourse. Such actions might include touching, the exhibition of genitalia, oral contacts, or exposure to pornography.

However, different types of neglect are the most common manifestation of child abuse. Usually, the problem is deeply rooted in indifferent attitudes towards children, for example, when children suffer the deprivation of necessities such as adequate food or clothes. These might be deliberate or unintentional actions. Also, such behaviors might include emotional or medical neglect. Therefore, the lack of affection, comfort, or medical care is also considered to be a form of child abuse. In addition, a religious factor is often pertinent to the problem. Some beliefs forbid certain types of medical interventions such as blood transfusion. Also, there are examples of religions that accept some forms of child abuse. As the project is focused on this particular behavioral pattern, the target audience is parents who experience this type of problems in raising their kids, social workers, and organizations specializing in parental educational programs. The main goals of this paper are to analyze the existing patterns of neglect as a form of child abuse and design an intervention program to address this issue.

Definition

This problem is of a large scale. According to statistics, approximately 75 percent of children suffer from neglect (“Child abuse,” n.d.). However, it is difficult to provide precise statistics on this form of child abuse as it is often combined with other abusing behaviors. Most children experience a combination of maltreatments. For example, the most common combination is neglect and physical abuse (“Child Maltreatment,” 2015). Other combinations might include neglect and emotional abuse or neglect and sexual abuse. The US Department of Health and Human Services also provided important data. Approximately 800,000 children experienced different forms of child abuse, but 59 percent of those victims “were victims of neglect” (“Child neglect,” n.d.). In spite of the fact that neglect is the most common manifestation of child abuse, it receives much less attention than other forms. Media and researchers mostly focused on physical and sexual abuse. The main reason for this is that child neglect is very difficult to identify. However, this form of abuse can be as harmful as others.

Another problem related to research on this type of maltreatment is that, as mentioned above, it there are different types of neglect. Some specialists highlight physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical neglect, mental health neglect, and educational neglect (“Child neglect,” n.d). However, there are some other forms. Physical neglect encompasses the avoidance of health care, poor supervision, unsafe conditions, inadequate nutrition, and other reckless behaviors. Educational neglect might occur “when a child is allowed to engage in chronic truancy, or is of mandatory school age but not receiving schooling” (“Child neglect,” n.d., para. 10). It also might include the neglect of necessary remedial educational programs. Emotional neglect occurs when caregivers cannot provide adequate nurturing and care or when they allow a child to use drugs or alcohol. Finally, medical neglect means providing inadequate health care.

As this form of child abuse encompasses different types of neglect, the risk group is very large. It might include infants, young children, and adolescences. Also, this problem occurs in various communities regardless of socioeconomic status, religion, or other factors.

Determinants

There are different social and behavioral determinants of the issue. Most caregivers do not neglect children deliberately. Many of them were also abused in the past. Raising children requires specific knowledge and experience. However, many young parents lack both. Therefore, they simply do not know how to properly nurture children and manage their development. In addition, parenthood is associated with a great amount of stress, and many people cannot effectively deal with it. Stress in combination with other factors often results in alcohol or drug abuse (Collins, 2017). It consequently leads to different types of neglect. Another important problem is the history of the development of caregivers. Their childhood experience reflects in their parental behaviors. Psychological well-being of caregivers is also a determent of the issue (“Wilson’s typology,” n.d.). Therefore, there are several factors pertinent to the child neglect. The first factor is a financial situation. Poverty is one of the most critical aspects that lead to child neglect.

If parents cannot cope with their bills, they often do not pay enough attention to their children. Parents cannot make a priority of nurturing in such cases. The second factor is the education of parents. Usually, parents neglect self-education and self-development. The lack of vocational skills leads to problems in searching for an appropriate job. Also, children experience neglect due to the inadequate parental skills of their parents (Collins, 2017). The third factor is relationship problems. Marital issues often negatively affect children. For example, divorce or breakup might take much time, and thus parents cannot provide sufficient care. Parents neglect their children while dealing with relationship issues. Such problems have a significant impact on the psychological health of children. Relationship issues also might lead to violence between parents. The fourth factor is the lack of support from the extended family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other relatives are very important for children and their parents. They can serve as babysitters or provide guidance. The fifth factor is housing. Poor living conditions also contribute to child neglect. Inadequate housing might require expensive maintenance, and thus there is less time left for children.

There are several behavioral theories that can explain such behaviors. However, taking into account the above-mentioned factors, one may suggest that the cognitivism theory is the most appropriate to understand the nature of child neglect. Cognitivism focuses on a person’s development and changes that occur over time. The theory explains how thoughts can affect behaviors, attitudes, values, and beliefs. Therefore, cognitivism shows the connection between the people’s experience and background and their behavioral patterns. If a person suffered from neglect in the past, it is more likely that this person will project such belittling experience onto their children. As the theory demonstrates how thoughts shape behaviors, it provides the rationale for the intervention that can address the problem of child neglect.

Intervention

The problem of child neglect might be effectively addressed. The above-described factors that are pertinent to the issue and its causes are clearly defined. Therefore, a special intervention program can be designed and implemented. However, it is first necessary to describe the program in general without mentioning any particular details. The main purpose of this program is to achieve changes in behavioral patterns of parents who neglect their children. The main components of the intervention are parent education and community centers. Also, it is important to ensure that every citizen can report occurrences of child neglect. Understanding this problem requires an increased awareness of associated problems, for example, poverty or domestic violence. However, the most important aspect of the intervention program is working with both parents and children. The program should be aimed at helping children to overcome emotional traumas and educating parents. Caregivers have to learn practical methods and techniques that help to improve the relationships between them and children. Also, the program should engage extended families. For example, it might be implemented through phone consultations, advertisement, or special public lectures.

One of the most important factors on which the implementation of the intervention program depends is community capacity. It is a complex concept that implies the collaboration between citizens and organizations to resolve the existing collective problems and improve the quality of life within a given community. Such interactions might be informal or organized and supported by governments. The main American community capacity includes many established networks that facilitate social interactions. In addition, the main strength of the community is its diversity. Therefore, there are various opportunities to implement the intervention program.

Also, there are many studies on the issue. Although researchers are mostly focused on other forms of child abuse, there is still much information related to different types of neglect. For example, Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance and the Center of Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College conducted a study that described key reasons for abusing and neglecting attitudes, barriers to the implementation of interventional programs, reaction of citizens to messages about abuse, and responsibilities to protect children (“Research on child,” n.d.). In addition, there are several points of leverage for the intervention. The most important aspect is funding. Funds might be received from different sources. These are local governments, non-governmental organizations, or donations from citizens. Also, it is necessary to motivate citizens to report any occurrence of maltreatment behaviors. It might be implemented, for example, through public service announcements.

Conclusion

The problem of child neglect is very complex, and it is interrelated with various socioeconomic issues. Although it is the most common form of child abuse, it does not receive enough attention. However, child neglect often results in serious emotional traumas. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully examine the problem in order to address it from different angles.

References

Child abuse and neglect statistics. (n.d.). Web.

Child maltreatment. (2015). Web.

Child neglect. (n.d.). Web.Collins, A. The ten causes of child neglect. Web.

Research on child abuse and neglect. (n.d.). Web.

Wilson’s typology of neglectful families. (n.d.). Web.