In contrast to the strong love/ hate emotions physically abusive parents feel toward their children, neglectful parents indicate little feeling for them. They simply don’t care.
In an issue of Psychology Today, educator Avis Brenner identifies a form of child abuse affecting an estimated million and a half American children – parental neglect. In contrast to the strong love/ hate emotions physically abusive parents feel toward their children, neglectful parents indicate little feeling for them. They simply don’t care.
Neglect assumes many forms, ranging from extreme neglect (in which children are emotionally abandoned, dirty, badly clothed, and left to scrounge for their own food) to moderate neglect (in which meals are haphazard, parents ignore their children’s chronic or mild illness, and emotional support, though present, is minimal).
But not all child neglect has a physical dimension. “Some neglected children are totally well cared for, says Psychology Today, “but have parents who give no love or attention, no moral guidance, no praise or punishment, According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, these emotionally neglectful parents encourage antisocial behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse, by refusing to know or care what happens to their children.”
In the book Helping Children Cope with Stress Brenner identifies behavior in elementary school children that might be indicative of parental neglect. A neglected child will probably not exhibit every one of these signs; nor does the presence of one or two of these symptoms necessarily indicate that a child is neglected.
- Rejected by classmates, makes no friends
- Comes to school too early, doesn’t want to leave
- Falls asleep in school
- Destroys toys and teaching materials
- Withdrawn and depressed; or overactive and aggressive
- Doesn’t cry when hurt
- Sees self as failure, doesn’t try
- Older children may defy teacher, rebel, be cruel, lie, or steal
- Parents refuse help, don’t follow through on requests, fail to keep appointments