Child Neglect

Child abuse and child neglect are the two forms of child maltreatment. Abuse requires deliberate action; neglect is a failure to act in ways necessary to nurture or protect a child. The forms are similar in that they can be emotional, educational, medical, sexual, or physical, and both are extremely harmful. Abuse might seem worse and more common. However, neglect is actually more common, more destructive, and more deadly.

More than half a million children in the United States are severely neglected each year (these are reported and substantiated cases; millions more are not reported). Worldwide, 1 billion children are neglected annually, a number that becomes believable if you remember that, of the world's 2 to 3 billion children, many suffer chronic malnutrition, exposure to violence, or lack of medicine.

Within the United States, for every child who is abusively murdered, at least four die of neglect: They starve, die of illness, or perish in preventable accidents. Fortu nately, if neglect is recognized early on as pervasive and destructive, it is preventable before permanent damage to a child occurs.

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