Children and Teens Program
HOW CAN I TELL IF A CHILD IS BEING NEGLECTED
While physical abuse indicators are often episodic (noticeable after weekends or absences), the
indicators of neglect are more often chronic (there most of the time). The educator or child
care provider needs to ask her/himself whether the signs s/he might interpret as neglect are
simply the expression of cultural differences, an alternative lifestyle or whether they actually
constitute true neglect. Do a majority of children in a given population display these signs or
only a few? The answers to these questions may help differentiate between neglect and legitimate
lifestyle differences in a pluralistic society.
Physical indicators of neglect include:
- constant hunger, poor hygiene, or inappropriate clothing.
- consistent lack of supervision, especially when engaged in dangerous activities over extended periods of time.
- constant fatigue or listlessness.
- unattended physical problems or medical needs, such as untreated or infected wounds.
Behavioral indicators of neglect include:
- begging or stealing food
- constantly falling asleep in class
- rare attendance at school
- coming to school very early and leaving very late
- addiction to alcohol or other drugs
- engaging in delinquent acts such as vandalism or theft
- stating that there is no one to care for or look after him/her
A neglectful parent or caretaker may:
- misuse alcohol or drugs
- have a disorganized, unstable home life
- seem unconcerned about the child's welfare
- be isolated from friends, relatives and neighbors and not seem to get along with others
- lack knowledge of a child's needs at different levels of development
- be in ill health
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