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Child Neglect Should Not Go Unnoticed

Updated: Feb 7

By Lianna Lee, Year 12 Student from King George V School

Child neglect continues to be one of the most prevalent forms of child maltreatment in our world today. It is defined as any act of caregivers that result in failure to provide adequacy in a child’s basic needs, such as healthcare, food, supervision, and more. Oftentimes Child Neglect is mistaken as a term that only refers to physical neglect, though, the term denotes more than that, it is inclusive of psychological neglect, medical neglect, and educational neglect. We frequently mistaken child neglect for child abuse as well. Although they often lead to similar complex consequences, child Neglect and abuse are their own individual types of Child Maltreatment. More than 15% of maltreated children in the United States however, suffer from different types of maltreatment combined. This is the devastating truth.

According to the Child Protection Registry Statistical Report from the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong, it was reported that in 2018, 22.3% of the newly registered cases of Child Maltreatment were child neglect cases. These findings also show that 63% of the reported cases were most common in children aged 0 - 2. This statistical data only represents the registered cases - think about the extent of severity if unregistered cases were taken into account.

In Hong Kong, most young children have to tolerate being left at home by their parents due to work or other leisure activities. This is an aspect of physical neglect, which is one of the most common forms of neglect that children suffer from. Physical neglect categorizes a range of mistreatments from inadequate care or supervision to failure in providing a child’s basic needs (clothing, nutrition, etc.). Other aspects of physical neglect involve responsibility in caring for a child’s safety, such as driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle, and abandoning a child.

There are three other main types of neglect. Psychological neglect, arguably the most difficult to identify, includes lack of affection and support, exposure to substance and alcohol misuse, as well as exposure to domestic violence in a household. Medical neglect involves the denial of appropriate medical treatment, failure to provide healthcare as well as the refusal of seeking recommended treatment. Finally, educational neglect is negligence in providing education, allowing their child to frequently skip school, and ignorance of recommended special educational services.

Despite the difficulty in reasonably inferring whether or not a child is experiencing a form of neglect, there are some common warning signs that we can identify to make the correct judgement. For example, physically or medically neglected children may suffer from consistent lack of cleanliness, inappropriate clothing for the weather, lack of growth and development, malnutrition, untreated sickness, lack of immunizations, and many more. Those who may experience educational neglect, could have a low attendance record, frequently absent, and may even have a poor academic ability. Additionally, behavioral changes must be observed when trying to identify psychological neglect in a child. If they partake in substance misuse or have a low self-esteem, these could also be indicative towards being psychologically neglected by their caretaker. Despite the likelihood of the

presence of these signs as a resulting factor unrelated to child neglect, it is always better to be safe and triple check with the child you suspect may need help.


Bibliography Amy Morin, L. C. S. W. (2022, January 6). How to recognize and report child neglect. Verywell Family. Retrieved December 28 , 2022, from Child abuse and neglect in Hong Kong - (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2023, from;5;61-64.pdf Child protection registry - SWD.GOV.HK. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2023, from Children’s constitutional rights. Family CLIC. (2021, July 3). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from Holland, K. (2021, October 21). Childhood emotional neglect: What it is, and how it can affect you. Healthline. Retrieved December 28, 2023, from Nspcc. (n.d.). Neglect. NSPCC. Retrieved January 10, 2023, from Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Child neglect. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from The types of child neglect - CPD online college. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from

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