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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. Child neglect includes not giving a child 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.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • The child feels like harming himself or someone else.

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

Contact the child's healthcare provider if:

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

  • The child has problems eating or gaining weight.

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

  • The child has trouble sleeping.

  • The child has new signs and symptoms.

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

Follow up with the child's healthcare provider or counselor 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 as needed. Tell the child's healthcare provider 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 suspected or known child neglect. It may be hard to report neglect of children, but it is very important. Healthcare providers can help the child if he is at risk for or is a victim of neglect. Healthcare providers are required by law to report suspected child neglect. The child may need to leave the 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. A counselor can help him talk about how he feels.

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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.