The Impact on Child Neglect on Self- Esteem

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The Impact on child neglect and self-esteem

Jill Rasmussen, MSW, LCSW
SOWK 317 Social Work Methods: Generalist Practice with Children and Families When a person thinks about child neglect, the first thing that may come to mind is a child not being taken care of physically. In fact that is what child neglect is about. “Children are neglected when they are deprived of minimally adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and nurturing” (Dubowitz, 1999, p. 91). We can safely say that a child is neglected when these basic needs are not met. Children are being ignored every day; they are being deprived of clothes, food, love, affection, and even of an education. The lack of parental love and the effects of child neglect alters the way a person views themselves. The way a parent treats their child determines a child’s future. The lack of love and affection on behalf of the parent or guardian leads to poor self-esteem of the child. According to Craig & Baucum, “the nature of child neglect is horrifying, whether it takes blatant physical forms such as violent punishment or sexual abuse or subtler psychological forms such as ridicule and direct attacks on the child’s self- concept” (Craig & Baucum, 2002, p. 217). “Child neglect represents over 50% of child protective services reports” (Horton & Cruise, 2001, p. 143). The way a parent treats their child has a lot to do with their view of themselves, meaning that the children self-esteem is affected.
When a child is first born and is not able to verbally communicate, they feel attached to a person through the sense of touch. They need love and affection from their parents or guardians, that’s how it all starts. Once they receive that love, they feed off of it and they then know how special and important they are in their parent’s life. Even if it is not verbally, they still need to feel that special touch and be held, that is how we show them love. If the parent fails to do these things, the child suffers, and if those conditions do not improve, the effects are more severe the older the child becomes. The child is not born knowing who they are, they learn about themselves through their parents, and other family members. If the parent fails to tell the child how good he or she is, or if he/she fails to show the child love affection, then their self-esteem will not be as high as it could be.

In doing research, I was first curious as to what makes a parent neglect their children. Is it because of the lack of love they feel for the child? Maybe the child reminds them of the parent that walked out on them? I now realize that a lot of child neglect cases have to do with poverty. People that have a low socioeconomic status end up neglecting their children, not because they want to, but because they cannot afford to buy the necessities to take care of their children. They are poor people who try to survive off of a small, monthly income. Unemployment may be another cause of child neglect, since many of the parents that do the neglecting are often unemployed. Some may not have had the proper education that would have helped them qualify for a better job to provide better care for them and for their children. Another possibility could be that they are suffering from social isolation. One more problem that we often see is that they may have more than one child and may feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities that comes along with having children.

Living conditions have improved in the last couple of years. By this I mean that the government has provided better care for citizens. Better housing arrangements have been provided, better health care, the nutrition has also improved which should be helpful to parents. A person would think that by the improvement of these conditions, parents would be a bit better off than before. The truth is that these parents are still in the same...
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