Child neglect is the most widespread form of abuse. It accounts for more than one third of cases signalled to youth protection authorities, a figure that is most likely the tip of the iceberg since many cases are never reported. The victim could be your child’s friend, your neighbour’s child, your student…
What is it?
Neglect does not refer to something that is done to a child, but rather to what is not done to him. He is deprived of what he absolutely needs in order to develop normally: food, clothing, housing, physical or psychological care, supervision or appropriate surroundings.
For additional information on child neglect, see the bilan du CLIPP or go to the Fondation Marie-Vincent website.
What are the consequences?
Neglect has a major impact on the child as it compromises his development on a number of levels, resulting in growth and speech delays, anxiety, low self-esteem, disobedience, immaturity and lack of social skills. Neglect can even be fatal when lack of supervision results in a tragedy: drowning, suffocation, poisoning, falls, etc.
Neglect affects particularly children from 0 to 11 years of age. The earlier it is caught, the fewer the consequences for the child.
How can it be prevented?
Any parent may one day be faced with his limitations and may become neglectful, particularly in the wake of a disruptive event (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.) If a parent you know is going through a difficult time and needs support, do not hesitate to offer him your help. Assistance, an attentive ear, a few hours of babysitting can make a real difference and offer parents welcome respite. An open and understanding attitude is by far preferable to scorn and indifference.
How can you detect it?
Signs of neglect are not always obvious, since the consequences may take some time to surface. But here are a few:
- The child is always hungry and often seems tired.
- He is unwashed or inappropriately dressed for the weather.
- He seeks attention.
- He is often absent from school and his homework is not done.
- He seems to lack stimulation for his age.
For additional information on signs of neglect, see the list of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
What can you do?
If you sincerely believe that a child in your midst is a victim of neglect, even if you are not certain, you must alert the youth protection authorities by telephone at 1 800 567-8520 or in writing. The identity of the person signalling the case is kept strictly confidential.
For additional information on signalling, see the brochure: Faire un signalement au DPJ, c’est déjà protéger un enfant.