child neglect | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing 

Child neglect is the failure to provide reasonably necessary care to a child.

From the perspective of the criminal justice system, child neglect is a serious offense that involves the failure to provide reasonably necessary care to a child. Neglect can take many forms, including failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and supervision. Neglect is often classified as a form of child abuse and can have severe and long-lasting consequences for the child.

The criminal justice system is responsible for investigating allegations of child neglect and holding responsible parties accountable for their actions. This typically involves collecting evidence, conducting interviews, and building a case against the perpetrator. If the neglect is severe, the child may be removed from the home and placed in a safe and supportive environment.

The idea of age appropriateness is often used in definitions of child neglect. For example, leaving a teenager home alone for a few hours may be considered reasonable, but leaving a toddler home alone for the same amount of time would be considered neglectful. Similarly, failing to provide medical care for a child with a serious illness or injury would be considered neglectful, while failing to provide medical care for a minor injury would not.

The criminal justice system recognizes that neglect is often a complex issue that can be caused by a variety of factors, including poverty, substance abuse, and mental health issues. As such, the system works closely with child welfare agencies, social workers, and other support services to address the underlying issues that may be contributing to the neglect.

Preventing neglect requires a comprehensive approach that involves educating parents and caregivers on appropriate parenting techniques, as well as providing support services for families in need. Schools and other community organizations can also play a critical role in preventing child neglect by providing safe and supportive environments for children.

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Last Modified: 04/11/2023

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