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Child Maltreatment - Neglect


Child neglect is a form of mistreatment that occurs when a person does not provide needed care to a child. A child is anyone younger than 18 years old. Child neglect includes not giving a child his basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, proper education, and guidance. Child neglect may also include abandoning or not providing supervision for the child. It can also include lack of medical care, such as immunizations, treatments, or giving the wrong amount of medicine.


Follow up with the child's primary healthcare provider (PHP) as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Care for the child:

  • Let the child rest if he needs to. Tell the child's PHP if the child has trouble sleeping.

  • Give the child healthy foods to eat. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if the child needs to be on a special diet. A dietitian may talk to you, the child, family members, or other people who care for the child about helping him get the right nutrition.

  • Report child neglect. It may be hard to report neglect of children, but it is very important. Caregivers can help the child if he is at risk for or is a victim of neglect. Caregivers are required by law to report suspected child neglect. The child may need to leave his current living situation and placed in foster care to provide needed care.

  • Take the child for counseling. Counseling may help the child feel less scared, depressed, or anxious. The child's PHP may suggest that the child see a counselor to help him with how he feels.

Contact the child's PHP if:

  • The child has problems eating or gaining weight.

  • The child is sad or depressed most of the time.

  • The child has new signs and symptoms.

  • You have questions or concerns about the child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The child feels like hurting himself or someone else.

  • The child feels that he cannot cope with the neglect, or his recovery from it.

  • The child has trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

  • The child has trouble sleeping.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Child Maltreatment - Neglect (Aftercare Instructions)