Child Neglect
In medical terms, neglect is when a parent or guardian
fails to provide the minimal level of physical and/or
emotional care for someone or something dependent on
him/her, such as a child or a pet. Adult dependents can
also be victims of neglect, particularly the elderly. Neglect
is considered a passive form of abusive because it
causes harm to someone by not doing enough to care for
a person’s needs. This is differentiated from an active
form of abuse (e.g., beating someone) where a person is
harmed by doing something bad to them.  People who are
victims of neglect cannot rectify the harm occurring to
them because they are unable to independently care for
FEATURED BOOK: Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect

Neglect is often purposeful but it also can occur when a person is unable to properly care
for a dependent (e.g., because of a mental illness). Neglect often causes physical harm
through poor nourishment, not providing adequate medical care, and not providing proper
supervision (which can lead to injuries or worsening illness). Neglect can also result in
death. Neglect can result in emotional effects such as major depressive disorder and can
lead to violent or other aggressive behaviors. If you suspect neglect, calling local law
enforcement, Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, or the local animal
humane society is a good place to begin to pursue the matter further. See the related
entry on abuse. Neglect comes from the Latin word “neglectus” meaning “to disregard.”

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