Child Abuse: Signs of Neglect

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Topic Overview

Specific signs of neglect include:

  • Hunger, inadequate growth or low weight from poor nutrition, or unmanaged obesity.
  • Developmental delays .
  • Lack of attention to personal cleanliness. The child may be very dirty, smelly, or unkempt.
  • Inappropriate or lack of clothing for the season.
  • Delay or failure to get needed health care.
  • Not following health care recommendations.
  • Pattern of tardiness or missing school.

Signs of a poor home environment that may indicate neglect include:

  • Lack of shelter, heat, water, bedding, or clothing.
  • Insufficient sleeping arrangements.
  • Unsanitary conditions and housekeeping problems.
  • Structural and fire hazards.

Behaviour patterns that may indicate neglect include:

  • Substance use problems . A child who is poorly supervised by parents may have access to drugs or alcohol and develop related behavioural problems.
  • Poor social skills. Neglected children may not have appropriate role models to learn responsible behaviour. They may also lack opportunities to interact with peers.
  • Poor school performance, tardiness, or absenteeism. Neglected children may not have enough supervision to help them prepare for and get to school regularly.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014