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There are a thousand ways to harm a child. The evidence of child abuse may be subtle or more obvious. To remain vigilant against such abuse, those of us concerned for the welfare of children must learn to recognize the warning signs.
This series of posts will address such warning signs. The signs here are derived from lists compiled by Prevent Child Abuse America [1A]. They fall into 4 categories: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. More often than not, these categories will overlap in the experience of a child.
No single warning sign, by itself, is considered definitive. Occurring repeatedly or in combination, however, these signs warrant further investigation.
The general signs that child abuse may be present in a family include unusual wariness on the part of a child; sudden changes in a child’s behavior; deterioration in a child’s school performance; and learning disabilities on a child’s part unrelated to an identifiable medical or psychological condition.
But the children of abuse may, also, be overachievers, anxious to please.
That said, we will begin with neglect.
Child neglect involves the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs for nurture, nutrition, shelter, education, healthcare, and safety.
Neglect can be difficult to distinguish from poverty. Sadly, there are children in this country who still do not get enough to eat, even in an otherwise loving home.
The Opioid Crisis has made the situation worse, greatly increasing the number of young children forced to cope without adult supervision. Stressors like unemployment and loss of insurance can be additional factors.
The warning signs of child neglect include the following [1B]:
- A child who is frequently absent from school.
- A child who is consistently dirty and has severe body odor.
- A child who appears malnourished, failing to achieve appropriate height and weight gain for his/her age.
- A child who begs food or steals money from classmates.
- A child who lacks adequate clothing for the weather.
- A child who lacks necessary eyeglasses, immunizations, medical and/or dental care.
- A child who has mental health issues like low self-esteem, anorexia, or binge eating.
- A child who abuses drugs or alcohol.
- A child who says there is no one at home to provide care.
The parent of a neglected child is likely to be indifferent to his/her child. Such a parent may appear severely depressed or act irrationally.
Any parent who abuses alcohol or drugs places a child at grave risk of neglect and other forms of abuse.
 Prevent Child Abuse America, “Recognizing Child Abuse: What Parents Should Know”, https://preventchildabuse.org/resource/recognizing-child-abuse-what-parents-should-know/.
 First Cry – Parenting, “Neglect – Causes, Effects, and Prevention” by Romita P, 2/12/18, https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/child-neglect-causes-effects-and-prevention/ .
 Dusunen Adam – Journal of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences, “Eating disorders and emotional neglect: a case report” by Aylin Ağırman and Fulya Maner, 2010, http://www.dusunenadamdergisi.org/ing/fArticledetails.aspx?MkID=127.
This series will continue next week with Part 2 – Emotional Abuse
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19 responses to “Vigilance, Part 1 – Neglect”
Pingback: Vigilance, Part 1 – Neglect. Child Abuse – GreatCosmicMothersUnite
I find all of this so disturbing. Too many people are not capable of having children and they should opt not to have any. Nothing wrong in not having children. People are obsessed in having children this too is wrong. To put a child through this kind of treatment is wrong, cruel and cold hearted. This world has become such an evil place to live.
Sadly, I agree that this can be be a cold and cruel world. Not everyone should have children. But there are, also, countless people working to improve the lives of children. And great many of the children who survive these difficulties go on to lead to meaningful lives. God never abandons them.
Pingback: Vigilance, Part 1 – Neglect — ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse
This is quite informative. Thanks for sharing, Anna. Love and Blessings
Thank you for your constancy, Gbolabo. Love and blessings, A. ❤
Anna, all that you write is highly informative and serves as a ‘key’ for all readers to use in unlocking each individual’s door to find the answer they seek- and thereby giving them guidance.
I hope and pray that is true, Lance. Thank you.
Anna, it is much like the story of the person who was picking up starfish after a storm and placing them back in the sea. A passerby commented, “You can’t save them all.” The person replied, “Yes, but if I’ve saved only one, it was worth it.”
That is precisely the philosophy of our local Child Advocacy Center. They use the starfish as their symbol.
Now that’s wonderful! Blessings.
Great and basic information!!
Helpful and great reminder of what to look for. I am a teacher so I tend look carefully at their grooming, their body language and their academics. Many kids who have parents who aren’t involved in their lives have little discipline or ability to follow through and do well in the class. I always feel like I am not adequately trained to detect abuse…and yet its so important. I know for sure – based on numbers – that there are students who have come through my class over the years who were neglected and maybe even abused. It breaks my heart that I was too blind to pick up on it. I want to get better at identifying the kids who need my help! Thank you!
Thank you so much for your interest. Teachers are on the front line, where abuse is concerned. They play a vital role both in reporting abuse, and repairing the damage it has caused.
Dear Anna, I find myself seeking solace in your writing. It brings new hope and inspiration not only to me, but to others in need of a spiritual revival. Thank you sincerely, my wonderful friend. Peace and light.
I cannot tell you how that means to me, Lance. You bring tears to my eyes. I worry that these little blogs reach so few readers. But touching a single heart such as yours makes all the effort worthwhile. Love and blessings to you, my friend, A. ❤
Anna, it’s my wonderful pleasure. WP can be a bit of a challenge regarding views and comments. And, yes. If it only reaches one reader and offers hope, then it was well worth the effort. Thank you, dear friend. Blessings and hugs.
Thank you for bringing into light this darkness. Too often people ignore abuse and say it is none of their business, I am thankful that you a vigilant in your work. Praying for you and for the victims of this terrible crime.