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Rates of Neglect in a National Sample: Child and Family Characteristics and Psychological Impact

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 88 Dated: 2019 Pages: 256-265
Jennifer. Vanderminden; Sherry Hamby; Corinne David--Ferdon; Akadia Kacha-Ochanad; Melissa Merrick; Thomas R Simon; David Finkelhor; Heather A Turner
Date Published
10 pages
Since childhood neglect is an understudied form of childhood maltreatment, despite being the most commonly reported to authorities, the current study provides national estimates of neglect subtypes and demographic variations in exposure to neglect subtypes, and it also examined the psychological impact on children.
Pooled data were obtained from two representative U.S. samples from the National Surveys of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) survey conducted in 2011 and 2014, representing the experiences of children and youth aged 1 month to 17 years (N-8503). Telephone surveys were used to obtain sociodemographic characteristics, six measures of past year and lifetime exposure to neglect, and assessments of trauma symptoms, suicidal ideation, alcohol use, and illicit drug use. The study found that just over 1 in 17 U.S. children (6.07 percent) experienced some form of neglect in the past year, and just over 1 in 7 (15.14 percent) experienced neglect at some point in their lives. Supervisory neglect due to parental incapacitation or parental absence was most common type of neglect. Families with two biological parents had lower rates (4.29 percent in the past year) than other household configurations (range from 7.95 percent to 14.10 percent; p <.05). All types of neglect were associated with increased trauma symptoms and suicidal ideation (for 10-17-year- olds), and several were associated with increased risk of underage alcohol and illicit drug use. Based on its findings, the study advises that more attention should be paid to the impact of supervisory neglect. These results underscore the importance of prevention strategies that provide the supports necessary to build safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments that help children thrive. (publisher abstract modified)