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Child Maltreatment - Neglect

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is child 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. It 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.

What increases a child's risk for neglect?

What are the signs and symptoms of child neglect?

How is child neglect diagnosed?

Healthcare providers who specialize in child abuse will examine the child's body. They will ask about other health conditions and if the child's vaccinations are current. They may want to talk to the child or anyone who cares for the child to get more information about the neglect. The healthcare providers may ask if the child has been eating, taking medicines, and given clothing. They may also want to know who is neglecting the child, and how long the neglect has been happening.

How is child neglect treated?

A child who has been neglected may be placed in a daycare center or foster home. Services may be offered to help the child feel safe and cared for. Treatment may also include any of the following:

What are the risks of child neglect?

If the child is placed in a foster home or care, it may be hard to be away from family or friends. Counseling may be emotionally difficult and painful. The child may have changes in behavior and school performance. The child may develop other serious problems. These include running away from home, alcohol or drug use, depression, and problems with self-esteem, moods, and relationships. The child may have thoughts of harming himself or herself or others.

How can I care for a child victim of neglect?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I call the child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.