IntroductionNeglect to reach beyond the limitations of current

IntroductionNeglect
is a type of maltreatment similar to child abuse, however while child abuse
requires the perpetrator to part-take in abusive actions, neglect is the
opposite as it is the failure to take action. Early childhood neglect refers to
any behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is
outside the norms of conduct and involves a considerable risk of causing
physical, emotional, or medical harm to a child in the developmental stages of
their life (“Using APA,” 1993). There are many factors that increase a child’s
risk of being neglected and they may be related to the child’s characteristics
or those of his/her family, the community in which he/she lives, or social
policies. The neglect of children results in significant consequences of or the
neglected individual, their future family and for Canadian society as a whole.The
abuse or neglect of a child is a human tragedy. Often in print or digital
media, there are stories of babies abandoned by their mothers; toddlers who are
deprived of essential forms of nutrition, compassion, emotional and physical
comfort; and of adolescents who run away from homes after they have been
subjected to years of neglect or abuse. Although these stories attract interest
and empathy for the victims of abuse and neglect, not all media succeeds to
account and reveal the complex interplay of factors that influences the origins
and consequences of child maltreatment. Simple answers are often proposed for
cruel behaviors against children, and easy-to-identify factors such as
psychopathology, poverty, alcohol, drugs, and society itself are often blamed
for destructive behaviors. Substantial efforts are needed and required to reach
beyond the limitations of current knowledge and to gain new insights that can
lead to the prevention of maltreatment and to also improve the quality of
social services and public policy decisions affecting the health and welfare of
abused and neglected children and their families. Widow (2007) notes that long-term
research and collaborative ventures are necessary to develop knowledge that can
improve understanding of, and response to, child maltreatment. Yet, after
decades of research, it is now being recognized that no single risk factor
provides the overriding catalyst for child abuse and neglect. Indeed, in more
recent years discoveries of complex interplay of multiple risk factors paves
the path to abuse and neglect, a discovery that challenges our search for the
origins of maltreatment, but one that has encouraged to recognize multiple
opportunities for intervention.Impact on the IndividualInitially, early
childhood neglect has a significant impact on the individual as it seriously
affects the child’s physical development. The child who has been neglected may experience a condition known as ‘non-organic failure
to thrive’ (FTT), especially those who have been malnourished. This condition
refers to a child’s weight, height, and overall development to be below
age-appropriate ranges and this can cause long-term consequences such as continued
growth problems, retardation, and socioemotional deficits. A child is said to
be suffering from failure to thrive when a doctor or medical professional finds
the child’s weight for his or her height is below the 5th percentile of the
population on a standard weight/height curve; the actual weight is 20% or more
below the ideal weight for height; weight gain is significantly slower than
normal; triceps skinfold thickness (a measurement of the total body fat) is
below the 15th percentile for the population (Schmitt & Mauro, 1989). Oates
(1992) has described some nonspecific behavioral characteristics of nonorganic
failure to thrive infants, which include lack of smiling, an expressionless
face, gaze aversion, self-stimulating behavior, intolerance of changes in
routine, low activity level, and flexed hips. Deprivational dwarfism, a medical term applied
to children of small stature whose physical growth is impaired by the absence of nutritional
requirements, is another type of child neglect. Even after diagnosis and
treatment, the psychological consequences of emotional neglect persist.
Polansky et al. (1981) found that young adolescents who in their infancy were
diagnosed as failure to thrive were defiant and hostile. Drotar (1992) notes
that factors that trigger nonorganic failure to thrive and child neglect should
be separated from factors that maintain these behaviors. In early periods of
neglectful behavior, the child may exhibit stressful behaviors in the forms of
feeding problems, irritability, or deficits in social responsiveness that place
increased demands on the parent’s caretaking duties (Powell et al., 1987). In
some cases, nutritional deprivation, combined with increased maternal
detachment, sets into motion a “vicious cycle of cumulative psychological
risk” (Drotar, 1992 a.n.d. 121). Eventually, the parent may begin to
perceive the child as quiet, sickly, or not very competent, perceptions that
may not be shared by others who observe the child (Ayoub and Miler, 1985;
Kotelchuck, 1982). In the absence of growth indicators of nonorganic failure to
thrive or deprivational dwarfism, clinical diagnosis of child neglect is quite
difficult. Moreover, early childhood
neglect negatively impacts the individual’s emotional wellbeing in many ways
such as developing a socioemotional deficit. Socioemotional deficit refers to
lacking in social and emotional cognitive behaviour which will put the child at
risk of developing meaningful relationships in the future as they will misread
social cues, misinterpret the feelings of others, being unaware of the effect
of their behavior on someone else and will lack empathy Moreover, an individual
who has been neglected as an infant or young child may not be exposed to
stimuli that activate important regions of the brain and strengthen cognitive
pathways which will cause them to view the world as hostile and uncaring. This
negative perspective may influence the child’s later interactions, causing the
child to become anxious and overly aggressive or emotionally withdrawn. This
will also be a risk factor in the relationships the child develops in the
future.Furthermore, early
childhood neglect causes negative mental health outcomes such as; depression,
severe anxiety, addictions, drug and alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress
disorder, self-harming and suicidality (“Using APA,”
1993). These factors affecting an individual who has been neglected will
later deeply impact the individual’s future relationship and their role in
society. Research in this field is demonstrating that experiences with child
abuse and neglect are a major component of many child and adult mental and
behavioral disorders, including delayed development, poor academic performance,
delinquency, depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, deviant sexual behaviors,
and domestic and criminal violence (“Using APA,” 1993). This impact will later
be explored in further depth through the impact on the family and society.  Impact on the FamilyAdditionally, early
childhood neglect affects the current and future family
of the individual as insecure attachment can occur, the fear of an
intergenerational cycle of neglect is also at question and their emotional and behavioural
attributes may put their relationships at risk. Babies and young infants
exposed to neglect are more likely to experience insecure or disorganised
attachment problems with their primary caregiver.  Patterns of
child-caregiver attachment are extremely important for a child’s early
emotional and social development. For children with an insecure attachment, the
parent/caregiver, who should be the primary source of safety, protection and
comfort, becomes a source of danger or harm to the child. Without the security
and support from a primary caregiver, babies and infants may find it difficult
to trust others when in distress, which may lead to persistent experiences of
anxiety or anger (Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000). Insecure attachments change the
normal developmental process for children, which can severely affect a child’s
ability to communicate and interact with others and form healthy relationships
throughout their life (Bacon & Richardson, 2001). Reviews of the literature
have reported that child maltreatment is associated with problematic peer
relationships in childhood and adolescence. Further to this, difficulties in
peer relations may be a precursor to difficulties in romantic relations
(Trickett et al., 2011).Since, neglected individuals
were faced with the failure to be cared for as children, this incident causes
some to be unable to understand emotional behaviour of others. This leads the
individuals to have a hard time developing meaningful relationships as
mentioned previously. If these individuals have children, they may lack in the
knowledge of what it means to provide care as they were deprived of this
essential developmental need. Babbel (2011)
notes that maternal detachment and lack of availability may harm the
development of bonding and attachment between a child and parent, affecting the
neglected child’s expectations of adult availability and affection. The
individuals may repeat the patterns of abandonment and deprivation that they
experienced in childhood. This will create an intergenerational cycle of
neglect. “Being maltreated as a child puts one at risk for becoming
abusive but the path between these two points is far from direct or
inevitable” (“Using APA,” 1993). Moreover, recent research
has called attention to alcohol problems that may be a consequence of child
maltreatment. Alcohol use may serve as a coping strategy adopted by neglected
children. Researchers have hypothesized that for abused and neglected children,
alcohol use may serve many possible functions: to serve as a form of
self-medication in which the child tries to gain control over his or her
negative life experiences; to act as a form of self-enhancement to improve the
child’s self-esteem or to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness (Widom et al, 2007).  Children of parents with alcohol problems are
generally at increased risk for the development of alcohol problems. If parents
with alcohol problems are more likely to neglect their children, then multiple
reasons support the hypotheses that their offspring will be at increased risk
for the development of alcohol problems. Only recently have treatment services
incorporated findings that examine the interactions of family members, neglected
parents’ perceptions of their children, behavioral characteristics that may
restrict parenting abilities, and emotional reactions to stressful childrearing
situations. Much more research is needed to be explored on the affects on the
current and future family of the neglected individuals. Impact on the Society            Lastly,
early childhood neglect impacts the society as it causes a wide range of many
social and economic problems, with an increased likelihood education failure
and unemployment, homelessness, and crime and delinquency (“Using APA,” 2014). Individuals who have been
neglected are likely to have problematic school performance (e.g., low grades,
poor standardized test scores, and frequent retention in grade) and this is a consistent
finding in studies with neglected children appearing the most affected (“Using
APA,” 1993). The maltreatment as children causes the individuals in their
educational progress as they may have an attention deficit and may experience a
condition known as ‘non-organic failure to thrive’ which was mentioned
previously. This may cause to the individual to drop-out of school and will
decrease the likelihood of obtaining a job which may lead to financial
struggles and homelessness.  Strong
associations have been made between histories of childhood neglect and
experiences of homelessness in adulthood. A study by Herman, Susser, Struening,
and Link (1997) found that the of lack of care during childhood was strongly
associated with a risk of adult homelessness. Adults who experienced a
combination of a lack of care and either child physical or sexual abuse were 26
times more likely to have been homeless than those with no experiences of
abuse. In a study examining whether adverse childhood events were related to
negative adult behaviours among homeless adults in the United States, 72% of
the sample had experienced one or more adverse childhood events (Tam, Zlotnick,
& Robertson, 2003). The relationship between homelessness and adult
survivors of neglect may also be connected to other adverse outcomes linked to
childhood neglect such as substance abuse problems, mental health problems and
possible delinquency. These consequences may make it difficult to achieve
stable housing.Moreover, although most
maltreated children do not become delinquent, and most delinquents are not
maltreated as children, research does indicate that neglected children are at
increased risk for juvenile delinquency (“Using APA,” 1993).  Individual’s who have experienced early
childhood neglect are often to do understand what they’re doing which leads to
unexplained behaviours of delinquency and a cycle of wrong choices. ConclusionIn conclusion, early childhood neglect deeply affects the
individual, their family, and the society is numerous ways. It impacts the
individual’s physical development as a child, their psychological and emotional
wellbeing. The neglected individual’s future family will also indirectly
experience the affects of the neglect and abandonment faced by the individual
through, the socioemotional deficit, the intergenerational cycle of neglect and
alcoholism. Society will also face the consequence of childhood neglected
experienced by the individual through the likelihood of education failure which
may lead to unemployment and homelessness, and towards a life of delinquency
and addictions. There are many support mechanisms society has developed for
individuals who have had the unfortunate experience of being maltreated such as
support centers, in-school assistance, group counselling, individual
counselling, and many more.

The
study of child maltreatment has been neglected. For decades, social workers,
clinicians, lawyers, and others have documented the pain of child
victimization. But obstacles hinder the scientific study of this topic, this
includes; the nature of the subject itself being emotionally overwhelming, the studies
usually lack consistent definitions, and the presence of multiple cofactors in
the study populations—including poverty, violence, and other forms of
victimization etc. all make it exceedingly difficult to isolate key factors.                                                                                                                                         Although
there are consequences that come across when gathering information, there are
some positives. For example, the importance of the developmental cycle of the
child has been recognized in studying the consequences of child maltreatment
and in having interventions and prevention programs. And the relationship
between experiences with neglect and the of health and behavioral disorders has
been explored through studies with larger samples. Despite this progress, there
is still a lack of research information that can guide societies to intervene
and prevent neglect. The existing scientific literature on child maltreatment is
not definitive. Still others have studied the hidden aspects of child neglect
or the more recently recognized forms of emotional neglect. The
interdisciplinary nature of the field also raises uncertainties. Health
professionals tend to highlight the physical manifestations of neglect:
psychologists stress the internal forces at work that may substitute
maltreatment. Social workers concentrate on the factors and services that
foster family strengths or risks to the child, while lawyers examine the
effects of laws on outcomes, among other issues.
Reports of child maltreatment reveal little about the interactions among
individuals, families, communities, and society that lead to such incidents. No
specific theories about the causes of neglect have been substantially
replicated across studies. Furthermore, research in the field of child
maltreatment studies is relatively undeveloped when compared with related
fields such as child development, social welfare. 

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