Gone Baby Gone - Child Neglect

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Gone Baby Gone – Neglect
Child neglect is the failure to provide a child with basic needs. Child neglect is a form of maltreatment that is usually done to children by their parents or caregivers. “Child neglect is a term used most often to encompass parents’ or caretakers’ failure to provide basic physical health care, supervision, nutrition, personal hygiene, emotional nurturing, education, or safe housing” (Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2007). The issue with this definition is determining how much importance should be placed on parents “intentionality with regard to parental failure to provide” (Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2007). Along with this issue, raises the question about what happens if a family cannot afford to provide their child with basic needs? The United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) has broadened the definition of neglect to include this; “it distinguished between parental failure to provide when options are available and failure to provide when options are no available” (Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2007). Child neglect is looked at as an act of omission rather than an act of commission; but with this definition it did not include the parents or caregivers that did not provide for their child because of financial problems. The US DHHS also expanded the definition of neglect to include endangering a child, even if there is no actual harm seen, people are still considered a perpetrator if there is potential harm done. The movie Gone Baby Gone shows many different examples of neglect in a “real life” environment. Gone Baby Gone is a movie about a four year old girl, Amanda McCready, kidnapping. Two private investigators are hired to try and solve the case of who took Amanda. Amanda went missing because of the lack of care, neglect that her mother, Helene, was subjecting her to. Child neglect is the hardest type of maltreatment to define and is the most commonly reported type of maltreatment.

The next issue looked at when determining whether something is neglect or not is the frequency and duration at which it occurs at. A single act of neglectful behavior is usually seen as a normal flaw in parenting; an example of this would be, skipping a bath or missing a meal. Usually these types of things are just considered a parental error, not an incident of child neglect. Some people argue that if an act of neglect happens once or one hundred times it should still be dealt with as neglect; but as stated before, others would say that one act of omission does not classify as neglect. One must have an understanding of the characteristics and causes of child neglect, this will help determine if what has occurred (the frequency and duration) is classified as child neglect. In most cases a family is characterized as chronically or non-chronically neglectful families. Chronically neglectful families are characterized “by multiple problems and deficits, including lack of knowledge, skills, and tangible resources” (Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2007). Non-chronically neglectful (or new neglect) families “had experienced recent significant crises (parental divorce or illness) that appeared to be overwhelming and affected their normal coping abilities” (Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2007). Amanda was part of a chronically neglectful family. Her mother abused drugs and would have drug deals in the house, forgetting that Amanda was around. There were multiple instances where Helene left Amanda by herself in the house; Amanda was only four years old at the time of her disappearance, which means that she was being neglected starting at an extremely young age. On the night of Amanda’s disappearance she was being used as part of a drug exchange by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

There are different forms of neglect including: physical, developmental, emotional, and environmental neglect. Physical neglect is “failure to provide a child with basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter”...
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