Warning Signs of Child Neglect

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Children should never be neglected. Unfortunately, they are. Learn about the meaning of child neglect and what warning signs to look out for so you can help put an end to it.

What Is Child Neglect?

When a caregiver, such as a parent, fails to provide the necessary age-appropriate care to a child even though they have the financial or other means for doing so or have been offered such means, we call this child neglect. It's a form of child maltreatment, and hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S alone are neglected on a yearly basis, and hundreds die as a result.

To prevent even one more death, let's run through a case scenario that showcases the warning signs of child neglect.

Signs Related To Food

Little Timmy is a neighborhood boy you've come to love seeing play outside the home just about every weekend and even some weeknights. He's small and skinny, but you just assume it's genetics, which it may well be in many children. However, one day, you notice something odd.

You see Timmy, normally a really nice and obedient little boy, reach into a parked car on the street. The parked car is not his nor his family's. You obviously think the best of Timmy and suspect it must be a visitor's car, but then you see that he grabs a bag of fast food out of the car and runs off to crouch behind some bushes and trees. You see that he devours a large portion of the fast food. The rest, he doesn't throw away like most people may. Instead, you see him stuff the bag of food in between the bushes, as if for later. Sure enough, later in the day, he comes back to finish the food.

What happened? One aspect of child neglect is not providing adequate amounts of food and/or adequately nutritious food for the child. Children who are victims of this may steal food (as well as money). They will also stuff themselves when given access to food and may hide food for later, knowing they may not get any from their caregiver. Timmy's small stature and weight may be attributable to this inappropriate nutrition.

Other Signs of Child Neglect

You brush off the incident as a one-time occurrence. Maybe that car was a family friend's, and maybe Timmy was given permission to do what he did. However, you start to notice that Timmy no longer looks as well as he used to. His clothing is too small for him as he grows more and more. He doesn't seem to have a winter coat he can wear. His hair is unkempt, and he seems a bit dirty and smelly as well.

Eventually, you notice that Timmy is playing outside in the middle of the day when he should be in school. As a result, you come up to Timmy to have a little chit chat to see if you can glean some more information. He has a lot of chipped teeth and smelly breath that begins to worry you. He also seems to get wildly emotional at even the most innocent things.

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