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Sociology Assignment: Impact of Child Neglect & Abuse


Task: Sociology Assignment Task: Child neglect is the most common referral to child protection systems internationally. Using Bronfenbrenner’s socio-ecological model, Featherstone et al.’s, social model of child protection, and drawing on the wider research literature explain the multifaceted nature of neglect and how this knowledge can inform social workers’ support of children and families.


According to the words ofAbdullah et al (2020) considered in the sociology assignment, child neglect is referred to as an appalling behaviour towards the child by the caregiver. This is a form of abuse in which the child is being deprived of its basic minimum needs. The failure of the caregiver to supervise the child, provide appropriate health care, housing, clothing, etc. could be part of the child neglect. Not being able to provide the child the required emotional, physical, educational, social and safety support are also seen as child neglect. In this paper, the various facets of child neglect will be discussed with reference to some scholarly literatures. The Bronfenbrenner’s Socio-ecological Model will be referred to for understanding child neglect as a social problem. The paper will also discuss how the social workers can help in child protection by reducing the impact of child neglect.

Child Neglect& Child Protection
Child Neglect

Child neglect could be defined as a failure in providing the child with its basic needs (Berliana et al, 2019). The quality of life of a child is adversely affected by child neglect coming from its caregivers. The child neglect is seen as an abusive behaviour towards the child. There are cases of child neglect in which the caregiver fails to provide the child with food and leaves the child hungry or thirsty. The negligence of the caregiver sometimes leaves the child unclean that is also a part of child neglect. Not providing the child proper clothing o shelter are some forms of abuse which arise out of deeper social issues like poverty. The children might be deprived of proper healthcare and this could lead them into danger. This is severe form of child neglect, which could eventually be fatal for the child.

Bronfenbrenner’s Socio-ecological Model
According to Phelan and Kirwan (2020), through Bronfenbrenner's socio-ecological model, the effect of social environment on the development of humans is well understood. The environment in which one lives and grows influences their thoughts, actions, emotions and life as a whole. As one moves from one environment to another or change their social role they change as a person. As stated by Kemp et al (2021), there are five system in the Bronfenbrenner's socio-ecological model across which a person can change their social role. These comprise:

Microsystem that includes the groups, which are in direct contact
Mesosystem refers to the relation between the groups in the microsystem Exosytem includes the factors that are not directly related to the persons but have an impact on their life

Macrosystem refers to the cultural factors that affect a person and the people around them
Chronosystem is that stage in life where a person is in due to the situations they are facing
The theory of Bronfenbrenner emphasizes on the environment in which a child lives and its quality. The interaction between the child and the environment grows more complex as the child develops. With the growth in the child’s cognitive and physical structures, as they mature eventually, their environment seems to have a greater impact on their life. To address child neglect the environment of the child has to be considered and improved.

Social Model of Child Protection
As per Williams (2020), child neglect is a very significant concern at the international level for the social workers, who are working towards the betterment of children. In the child protection system, the aspect of child neglect is highly prioritised because in most of the cases, the life of the children can be improved once the issue of child neglect is addressed.As opined by Featherstone et al (2018), various social determinants affect the life of a child. As stated in the Social Model of Child Protection, child neglect could arise due to structural inequalities. The inequalities could be based on racism, sexism or poverty. These factors have an impact on the family or environment in which the child is growing. The caregivers approach towards child is also affected by these social factors. According to Willow (2020),the most important aspect of social work in child protection is that they need to be aware of the various forms of child abuse or neglect, the needs of children, the varying living conditions of the children and the appropriate step to take against child abuse. The child who has been neglected for years needs to be assured that they are not alone and the social workers are there for help and support. Featherstone et al (2014) suggested that it is important for the social workers to restructure child protection by collaborating with families.

Multifaceted Nature of Neglect
Child neglect could be of various forms. As per Blaisdell, Imhofand Fisher (2019), there are well-structured state laws which define the behaviours that should be considered as child neglect. The aspects or behaviours that should be considered as child neglect include the negligence towards the child’s need for food, clothing, shelter or medical care. The lack of supervision, which could put the child in danger, i.e. situations where the safety, well-being and health of the child is under threat, can take a severe form of child neglect. As per Maguire-Jackand Font (2017), child neglect could be chronic characterised by serious and on-going pattern of depriving the child of its necessities. The deprivation of the child of its physical and emotional needs could affect its growth and development. The child neglect will result in failure of the child to grow into a healthy and happy youth. The most difficult form of abuse under child protection is child neglect as many fail to understand or accept behaviours that are considered as child neglect. This makes resolving the issue of child neglect more difficult. The society needs to be made aware of the behaviours that come under the wide definition of child neglect so that the problem is appropriately addressed.

The different forms of child neglect are:
Physical Neglect: The physical neglect towards a child refers to the failure of the caregiver in providing the child with its physical needs like food, shelter, clothing, etc. The lack or inappropriate child supervision is also considered as child neglect. Emotional Neglect: Emotional neglect towards a child refers to the failure in meeting the emotional requirements of the child. During the years when the child is in the growing phase, they have several emotional and psychological needs. The caregiver has to be committed towards providing the required support to the child emotionally and psychologically. The lack of supervision or support, might lead the child towards a wrong path. The caregiver has to be cautious to prevent the child from taking alcohol or drugs. Child neglect is one of the prime reasons that lead to aggression among children, adopting wrong means, consumption of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, indulging in criminal or anti-social activities, etc (Maguire-Jackand Font, 2017).

Educational Neglect: A very important aspect of a child’s growth is education. Education brings an overall growth and development in the child, fostering a better standard of life in the coming years. The children, who receive proper formal education in their early years, eventually grow up into responsible adults. The failure of the caregiver to provide right education to the child is a concerning aspect of child neglect. Some children might also have certain special needs in education, which the caregiver has to provide.

Medical Neglect: Child neglect also involves medical neglect. The child has several medical and healthcare needs, which the caregiver needs to meet. The caregiver’s failure to cater to these medical needs of the child is referred to as medical neglect (Mikolajczak et al, 2018). The medical neglect includes negligence towards both, physical and mental healthcare needs. The mortality rate among children might be high if the medical neglect is high.

Social Workers’ Support
The social workers who are working towards the betterment of the quality of life of the children should be adequately aware and informed about the various facets of child neglect (Mulder et al, 2018). If the social workers can address the issue of child neglect appropriately, they can help the child and their families to develop. The social workers can organise child protection campaigns through which they can inform the people in the society about the significance of addressing the issue of child neglect, its various forms and its impact of the child. The social workers can assume the role of a community education and awareness coordinator. The social workers can try to directly reach out to the children in need, who are living in adverse conditions. These would comprise those children who are living on the streets or in very poor families and are mostly neglected in most of the aspects. The children who have an abusive life due to their ignorant caregivers might need the support of the social workers. The cultural sensitivity and empathy of the social workers can improve the outcome of child protection programs (Sun, Liu and Yu, 2019). The social workers can educate the families and caregivers on what child neglect is and how various behaviours, which they consider normal, could be a form of child neglect. The children living in hunger and poverty or extreme medical negligence could be provided aids through the social workers.

Child neglect is a very serious form of child abuse. The children are deprived and neglected by their caregivers, in different ways. The caregivers fail to cater to the needs of the children, support them physically, emotionally, educationally and in many other ways. The social workers can help the children in need by making their families and caregivers aware of child neglect. They can directly help the children by providing them their necessities and psychological support. Across the world, there are different child protection programs being conducted and child protection laws have also been formulated. However, the social workers have a huge role to play in implementing the laws, preventing the violation of the laws and promoting child welfare and protection. The social workers should emphasise on eliminating child neglect from the society, as this would foster better life for children.

Abdullah, A., Frederico, M., Cudjoe, E. and Emery, C.R., 2020. Towards culturally specific solutions: Evidence from Ghanaian kinship caregivers on child neglect intervention. Child Abuse Review, 29(5), pp.402-415.

Berliana, S.M., Augustia, A.W., Rachmawati, P.D., Pradanie, R., Efendi, F. and Aurizki, G.E., 2019. Factors associated with child neglect in Indonesia: Findings from National Socio-Economic Survey. Children and Youth Services Review, 106, p.104487.

Blaisdell, K.N., Imhof, A.M. and Fisher, P.A., 2019. Early adversity, child neglect, and stress neurobiology: From observations of impact to empirical evaluations of mechanisms. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 78, pp.139-146.

Featherstone, B., Gupta, A., Morris, K. and Warner, J., 2018. Let's stop feeding the risk monster: towards a social model of'child protection'. Families, Relationships and Societies, 7(1), pp.7-22.

Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and White, S., 2014. Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Policy Press. Kemp, B.J., Cliff, D.P., Batterham, M. and Parrish, A.M., 2021.Socio-ecological predictors of non-organized physical activity participation and decline between childhood and adolescence. Journal of Sports Sciences, 39(2), pp.120-130.

Maguire-Jack, K. and Font, S.A., 2017. Community and individual risk factors for physical child abuse and child neglect: Variations by poverty status. Child maltreatment, 22(3), pp.215-226.

Mikolajczak, M., Brianda, M.E., Avalosse, H. and Roskam, I., 2018. Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 80, pp.134-145.

Mulder, T.M., Kuiper, K.C., van der Put, C.E., Stams, G.J.J. and Assink, M., 2018. Risk factors for child neglect: A meta-analytic review. Child Abuse & Neglect, 77, pp.198-210.

Phelan, A. and Kirwan, M., 2020. Contextualising missed care in two healthcare inquiries using a socio?ecological systems approach. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29(17-18), pp.3527-3540.

Sun, J., Liu, Q. and Yu, S., 2019. Child neglect, psychological abuse and smartphone addiction among Chinese adolescents: The roles of emotional intelligence and coping style. Computers in Human Behavior, 90, pp.74-83.

Williams, K., 2020. Book Review: Protecting Children: A Social Model Brid Featherstone, Anna Gupta, Kate Morris, and Sue White Bristol: Policy Press, 2018 192 pp.£ 21.99, GBP21. 99, ISB 978-1-4473-3275-6. Practice, pp.1-4.

Willow, C., 2020. Protecting Children, written by B. Featherstone, A. Gupta, K. Morris and S. White (2018). The Intern


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