How Neglect Becomes Abuse

Parents entrusted with the care of children have a huge responsibility. Their actions can turn that child into a healthy, happy productive adult or a damaged and criminally minded wreck. Often, it can seem as if all that needs to be done is to refrain from the obvious types of physical and sexual abuse in order to be at least adequate. Nothing could be further from the truth. This essay explores how neglect can create as much or even bigger problems in a child’s development.

Psychological Scars

There are various lessons that children learn throughout their lives if they are supposed to become mentally well adults. When they are at their most vulnerable throughout childhood, it is necessary for them to learn to rely on the adults in their lives. Not being able to count on these people can make it impossible for the child to believe that they will ever get what they need when they need it. This may make them fearful or less willing to trust other authority figures such as teachers and police officers.

Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse

The need to be paid attention to, validated and spoken to with kindness does not disappear just because parents are neglectful. Children whose need for attention is not being met become more vulnerable to sexual predators. Such deviant persons are very good at seeking out children who need attention and presenting it to gain that child’s confidence. This matter can get even worse as the child may not feel comfortable disclosing the abuse to parents that he or she feels are not interested in his or her well-being or may not believe such a disturbing report.


When left to their own devices, it is not uncommon for children to make bad nutritional choices. These can stunt their growth, speed up tooth decay and make them lethargic during classes. This can lead them to do poorly on examinations even though they are capable of much better results. When this occurs the neglect becomes part of them that they will carry around an educational reminder of for the rest of their lives.

Good parents do not often think of their actions as being neglectful and generally they are not. But even they can find themselves engaging in actions that put other things before their offspring. This should be kept to a minimum so that stable personalities can emerge.

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