Care Certificate

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Neglect and the act of omission

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Understanding Child Neglect: Forms, Signs and Digital Neglect

Child neglect, the ongoing failure to address a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, could result in severe impact on their health or development. Neglect may manifest in two primary forms: active and passive.

Active and Passive Neglect

Active Neglect

Active neglect entails intentional behaviours where a caregiver deliberately withholds necessary care or provisions.

Passive Neglect

Passive neglect involves instances where the caregiver, due to factors such as illness, stress, insufficient resources, or lack of knowledge, fails to fulfil their caregiving duties. Passive neglect could occur even during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse or when a caregiver fails to supply adequate food, shelter, and clothing.

Examples and Indicators of Child Neglect

Neglect may involve a range of situations, such as:

  • Failing to provide adequate food, shelter, or clothing
  • Not protecting a child from physical harm or danger
  • Failing to ensure access to necessary medical care or treatment
  • Not attending to a child's fundamental emotional needs

Signs of neglect in a child may include:

  • Consistent hunger
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Worn-out clothing
  • Regular lateness or absences from school
  • Unattended physical injuries or medical issues
  • Emotional distress - frequent crying, signs of depression, recurring nightmares, or sleep difficulties
  • Potential fear towards the caregiver

Omission: Ignoring the Signs

Omission, defined as the act of knowing about ongoing abuse of any kind but failing to report it, is another form of neglect. Signs of neglect could also encompass poor personal hygiene, like soiled clothing, dirty nails and skin, unkempt or lice-ridden hair, foul smells, and presence of faeces or urine.

Digital Neglect in Today's Context

In the modern digital era, the concept of neglect extends to a child's online activity. Digital neglect involves the failure to supervise a child's digital usage, leaving them vulnerable to potential harm such as cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and online predators. It's critical for caregivers to understand their duty in providing a safe online environment for children, alongside their physical and psychological needs.