Child neglect: Definition and identification of youth's experiences in official reports of maltreatment

  • Mennen F
  • Kim K
  • Sang J
 et al. 
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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the nature of neglect in child welfare clients, to describe these experiences, to examine its typologies, and to understand how different types of neglect co-occurred with each other and with other types of maltreatment. Methods: Case record abstraction was conducted on the child welfare case records of an urban, ethnically-diverse sample of youths (n= 303) identified as maltreated by a very large public child welfare agency. We utilized the Maltreatment Case Record Abstraction Instrument (MCRAI) which was based on the work of Barnett et al. (1993) as modified by English and LONGSCAN (1997). Thirteen items of parental behavior deemed neglectful were coded and organized into 5 subtypes of neglect (care neglect, environmental neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect, supervisory neglect). Results: Neglect was present in 71.0% of the sample as compared to the 41.0% classified as neglected by CPS records. Neglect was accompanied by other types of maltreatment in 95% of the cases. Children who were neglected had more reports of maltreatment and experienced a greater number of different types of maltreatment than those who were maltreated, but not neglected. The most common type of neglect was supervisory neglect (72.5%) followed by environmental neglect (61.6%). With the exception of medical neglect, all types of neglect were significantly correlated with each other. Conclusions: The abstraction resulted in rich data showing that under a one-word label of neglect, the nature of neglect that the youngsters actually experienced was quite diverse and heterogeneous in its phenomenology. Furthermore, neglect is pervasive for children in the child welfare system and official classifications underestimate its occurrence. Neglect does not happen in isolation; children who are reported as neglected are likely to experience other forms of maltreatment. Practice implications: Official classifications should not be used in determining interventions for children and families. Interventions for neglected youngsters should be individualized to address the complexity of children's experiences. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child maltreatment
  • Child neglect
  • Definitions
  • Maltreatment classification

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Authors

  • Ki Hyun KimSungkyunkwan University - Suwon Campus

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  • Ferol E. Mennen

  • Jina Sang

  • Penelope K. Trickett

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