Harmful Effect Of Neglect

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Harmful Effect of Neglect

Monroe College

P. Young

Harmful Effect of Neglect


Child abuse and neglect are also associated with numerous mental health problems. For example, in a nationally representative sample of the United States, child sexual abuse was associated with 14 subsequent mood, anxiety, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008) and substance use disorders among women, and 5 among men. Conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder are a few of the psychiatric problems associated with physical abuse among children and adolescents in a community-based probability sample. Emotional abuse may result in serious mental health problems as well, though its long-term consequences have yet to be studied. (Straus 2001)


If maltreatment is identified in a timely manner, there are efficacious treatment options that can prevent sequelae from affecting children across their life span. However, many children never receive treatment. Still, some children and adults are resilient to the negative effects of child abuse and neglect. Protective factors such as strengths and supports both within a child and in a child's social environment may affect this resiliency. Gains have been made in development of efficacious treatment strategies of those who have suffered from child abuse and neglect. (Olafson 2005) However, true primary prevention entails prevention of perpetration of the abusive and neglectful behaviors; research into efficacious primary prevention strategies is currently in infancy. Perpetration of child abuse and neglect is thought to result from a complex combination of individual, family, community, and societal factors. (Molnar 2001) At the individual level, some characteristics of caregivers who abuse or neglect children include mental health problems, including substance abuse, and a caregiver's own history of witnessing violence or being a victim of child abuse or neglect in the past. At the family level, violence between adult caregivers is a risk for child abuse and neglect.

High levels of stress from financial or employment problems are other family risk factors. (Kempe 2004) At the community level, cultural norms about treatment and nurturing of children may affect the prevalence of child abuse and neglect. For example, widespread acceptance of high levels of community violence and/or use of severe physical punishment has been associated with higher prevalence of child abuse. However, social networks may protect children from abuse and neglect in that they help caregivers provide safer, healthier environments for children. At the societal level, countries engaging in wars or ongoing conflicts have rates of child abuse and neglect that escalate as the conflict grows and mass displacement occurs. (Haugaard 2006)

There is ongoing debate over how to define different types of child abuse and neglect in reliable, valid, and useful ways. Four general categories are currently recognized: (1) physical abuse, (2) sexual abuse, (3) neglect, and (4) emotional abuse. The most tragic consequence of child abuse and neglect is death of a child; in 2008, it was estimated that 1,100 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States, reflecting a rate of 1.62 children out of every 100,000 children in the ...
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