Article

Chronic Child Neglect: Needed Developments in Theory and Practice

Authors:
  • Casey Family Programs
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to stimulate reflection and discussion on a subject that has received surprisingly little coverage: chronic child neglect. The article selectively reviews the literature and offers fresh observations and critical reflections pertaining to both causation and intervention. Chronic child neglect must, it is argued, be understood in greater depth and complexity in order to develop more effective interventions. In particular, a better understanding of the effects of long term, severe and concentrated poverty on parent's morale is needed to support interventions capable of infusing hope and bringing about a social world in which hope can thrive.

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... It is commonly known that CPS workers are overworked and have limited resources, so it would stand to reason that on the priority list, abuse would perhaps take precedence over neglect with regard to interventions. Neglect of children has also been tied to the same factors of poverty, poor mental health, drug/alcohol abuse, and domestic violence as is abuse (Wilson & Horner, 2005). If we act to intervene at the first signs of neglect, we may be able to avoid a recurrence of neglect or the progression of neglect into abuse. ...
... • More research on individual and communal factors affecting repeat occurrences of maltreatment (Kazdin & Benjet, 2003) • Longer studies on the success rates of CPS family interventions (Harder, 2005) • Considering the voices of the " offending " parents/adults (Bolen et al., 2008) • Intervening at the first signs of neglect (Wilson & Horner, 2005) • Training CPS workers to be more culturally competent (Wilson & Horner, 2005) • Addressing the culture of corporal punishment (Kazdin & Benjet, 2003) • Adapting intervention strategies that are targeted at the unique needs of each family (Bolen et al., 2008) ...
... • More research on individual and communal factors affecting repeat occurrences of maltreatment (Kazdin & Benjet, 2003) • Longer studies on the success rates of CPS family interventions (Harder, 2005) • Considering the voices of the " offending " parents/adults (Bolen et al., 2008) • Intervening at the first signs of neglect (Wilson & Horner, 2005) • Training CPS workers to be more culturally competent (Wilson & Horner, 2005) • Addressing the culture of corporal punishment (Kazdin & Benjet, 2003) • Adapting intervention strategies that are targeted at the unique needs of each family (Bolen et al., 2008) ...
... For example, physical abuse may be more likely to occur as the direct result of impulse control or poor regulatory coping whereas neglectful behavior may be overwhelmingly a consequence of substance dependence. Furthermore, causal patterns are likely to reappear in subsequent generations, thereby increasing the likelihood of maltreatment in adult offspring (Belsky, 1993;Berry, Charlson, Dawson, 2003;Wilson & Horner, 2005). The following is a discussion of existing literature that explores the relationship between parental psychopathology, neglect, and the consequences of both. ...
... The underlying causes of maltreatment are explained by the developmental psychopathology perspective as "a recognition of the developmental and contextual aspects" or the "interplay…of risk and protective factors and processes and influences both within and outside the individual" (Cicchetti & Toth, 1995, p. 542-3) that give rise to maladaptive behavior. Neglectful caregivers have greater susceptibilities to psychiatric disorders, cognitive limitations, substance misuse, and nonexistent and/or strained intimate partner relations, all of which severely reduce parental functioning (Belsky, 1993;Berry, Charlson, Dawson, 2003;Wilson & Horner, 2005). Given these vulnerabilities, child neglect can be thought of as the overwhelming presence of potentiating factors and the absence or scarcity of compensatory factors. ...
... While substance abuse, including alcohol and illicit drug use, is a common identified problem in child welfare and high risk samples (DePanfilis, 2006;Wilson & Horner, 2005), community-based and clinical samples do not offer a more promising picture. Evidence indicates that comorbid incidents of neglect and SUDs within the general population are over 50% . ...
... Nigel Parton (1995) believes the issue of neglect "exemplifies many of the central tensions in child protection policy and practice more generally", which in turn underlies "what many see as a major failure of child protection policy and practice over the last 20 years; in other words, the 'neglect of neglect'" (Parton 1995, p 67). In a similar vein, Wilson and Horner (2005) see neglect as "the metaphorical elephant in the living room in modern child welfare systems", and the neglect of neglect as "a stubborn refusal to come to grips with the centrality of neglect in child protection" (p 471). They observe that the amount of attention devoted to the different types of child maltreatment appears to be in inverse relation to its frequency in both scholarship and practice (p 471). ...
... Allegations of neglect are also the least likely to be substantiated and the least likely to receive continued social work involvement (Parton, 1995, p 83;Wilding & Thoburn, 1997). All in all, child neglect has a much higher re-notification rate than other forms of maltreatment, 6 is given low priority within the child protection system, and is a substantially neglected form of maltreatment in child protection policy and practice generally (see e.g., Connell-Carrick, 2003;Connell-Carrick & Scannapieco, 2006;DePanfilis & Zuravin 1999;Forrester, 2007;Wilson & Horner, 2005). 6 Jacob and Fanning (2006) express their concern about the high re-notification rate in Tasmania ...
... For example, workers in teams can preserve relationships with families even when staff turnover occurs. Teaming may be called for to provide mutual support to guard against the transmission of hopelessness and helplessness from neglecting families to caseworkers (Wilson & Horner, 2005). Teaming also provides for the sharing of knowledge and experience across helping professionals and increases continuity of services and engagement when one team member leaves or is absent for a period of time. ...
... Past research also links specific familial stressors to chronic neglect, such as extreme poverty, parental mental health concerns, lack of social support, lack of parenting knowledge, and domestic violence (DePanfilis & Zuravin, 2002;Wilson & Horner, 2005). Additional studies found that child disability increased risk of multiple reports to CPS, as well as families having three or more children (Fluke, Shusterman, Hollinshead, & Yuan, 2008;Nelson, Saunders & Landsman, 1993). ...
Article
Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment in the United States, yet its impact on development remains understudied, especially for chronic neglect. Chronic neglect is also one of the most costly burdens on child welfare systems. This study examines the effects of chronic neglect, including two subtypes (Failure to Provide and Lack of Supervision) on adolescent aggression and delinquency using a diverse longitudinal sample of youth. Chronic neglect and chronic failure to provide (ages 0-12) predicted aggression/delinquency (age 14) even after controlling for the effects of other maltreatment (ages 0-12). Chronic lack of supervision, however, did not. Gender significantly moderated these effects, suggesting that males are more likely to respond to neglect by becoming aggressive/delinquent. Finally, social problems (age 12) partially mediated for boys, and fully mediated for girls, the connections between chronic neglect and aggression/delinquency, bolstering theorizing that neglect impairs social functioning broadly. Implications include the need for further research on chronic neglect, especially in providing guidance for child welfare systems. Interventions for chronically neglected youth should include social skill development. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
... It is particularly important that prevention programs be effective with this form of maltreatment. As discussed by Wilson and Horner (2005), however, much work remains to be done regarding program and policy development for families facing poverty and also neglecting their children. Work in this area is emerging (see Kaplan (Ed.) special issue of Protecting Children, 24), but this continues to be an area of pressing research and intervention need. ...
Conference Paper
The primary goal of in-home child welfare intervention is to protect the child(ren) in the home from future maltreatment (Courtney, 2000). The focus of such services is, therefore, on changing the behavior of the perpetrator so that s/he may provide adequate care. Despite this service focus, research on perpetrators of maltreatment is scant compared to child-level investigations. Most studies of recidivism focus on the child or case (family) level (DePanfilis & Zuravin, 2002; English, Marshall, Brummel, & Orme, 1999). This study attempts to fill this gap by examining maltreatment report recidivism at the perpetrator level. This study analyzed statewide administrative data collected by child protection caseworkers in a Midwestern state to assess the rate at which maltreatment perpetrators were re-reported to the child protection system. Maltreatment perpetrators who received intensive child welfare services (FPS) were compared to those who received prevention services (FCS) and no child welfare services, to learn whether recidivism rates differed. Recidivism was analyzed separately by type of maltreatment at the index event (i.e., sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect). The sample for the current study was selected from the time frame between 1/1/93 and 12/31/95. Those perpetrators included in the study (N = 31,667) were followed through a period of up to 10 years, through 2003. The total sample was primarily female (65.2%) and Caucasian (72.9%), and the mean age was 32 years (SD = 9.2). The majority of these perpetrators were related to the child they maltreated as birth parent (84.8%). Eleven percent of perpetrators in this sample participated in only family-centered services, 0.8% participated in any family preservation services, and the majority of the perpetrators (87.9%) received no child welfare services. There were differences in the risk for maltreatment recidivism for perpetrators according to the level of in-home services received (55% for FPS and 54% for FCS) compared to no services (43%), and these differences also varied by initial maltreatment type. These bivariate findings held true even after controlling for demographic characteristics, substantiation status at the index event, and neighborhood characteristics. Overall, perpetrators had high rates of recidivism, regardless of the initial maltreatment type or type of services received. This study also analyzed the proportion of perpetrators whose recidivism event included a new child victim not included on the index event. The 19% of perpetrators whose recidivism involved a new child indicates the importance of studying child abuse at the perpetrator level rather than the child level since re-report at the child level would have missed these children's victimization. This poster presentation will be of interest to child welfare professionals and researchers. References Courtney, M. E. (2000). Research needed to improve the prospects for children in out-of-home placement. Children & Youth Services Review, 22, 743-761. DePanfilis, D., & Zuravin, S. J. (2002). The effect of services on the recurrence of child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26, 187-205. English, D. J., Marshall, D. B., Brummel, S., & Orme, M. (1999). Characteristics of repeated referrals to child protective services in Washington State. Child Maltreatment, 3, 297-307.
... The research and literature says that poverty is correlated with higher risks of physical abuse and neglect of children and young people (Gelles, 1992;Drake and Pandey, 1996). Violence and chronic neglect tend to escalate in the presence of other social problems, and are sometimes linked with poverty, overcrowded housing and alcohol and drug abuse (Cadzow, Armstrong and Fraser, 1999;Dubowitz, Zuckerman, Bithoney and Newberger, 1989;Wilson and Horner, 2005). ...
... It is the effects of poverty and associated disadvantage on children's lives (Connell, Bergeron, Katz, Saunders & Kraemer Tebes 2007;Attree 2004) including long term, severe and concentrated poverty on a parent's morale (Wilson & Homer 2005) that is an integral part of the identification of child neglect (Harris & Hackett 2008). Parental socio-economic background has been shown to dramatically increase the risk of entry into out-of-home care (Bebbington & Miles 1989;Franzen, Vinnerljung & Hjern 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
The "Community Capacity Building in Child Protection Project" from the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet) appreciates the opportunity to provide input into the out-of-home care standards (OOHC) consultation process. Our contribution to the OOHC national standards conversation is based upon the theoretical model of responsive regulation, applied to a variety of regulatory contexts across social service care domains including hospitals and aged care facilities. We also draw upon findings from the research we are currently conducting on child protection (see http://ccb.anu.edu.au/ for description of projects and research papers). The submission is organized into 3 sections: First we briefly contextualise our submission in what is known about out-of home care for children: the outcomes and the challenges facing the sector that are likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Practical constraints must be recognized in setting up a standards regime. Principles for guiding the development of a standards regime are addressed in Section 2. The primary focus is on the child. Successful implementation of the standards, however, depends on understanding the needs of other actors in the regulatory space. A central part of the philosophy of a responsive regulatory approach is to enable regulation to be shaped in a bottom up fashion so that it is meaningful and resonates with the experiences of those in the sector. To this end, Section 2 briefly refers to the needs of 5 groups other than the child in care: carers, natural parents, voluntary support groups and service providers, government inspectors, and the public. A sizeable literature provides evidence of these needs. 1 FaHCSIA's consultation process currently underway will provide a set of submissions that will provide further up-to-the-minute information that can be included in a needs-based stakeholder framework for developing and enforcing standards. Finally, Section 3 describes a responsive regulatory approach that allows for both enforcement of minimum standards and strengths based regulation to foster continuous improvement in the sector. 1 This extensive literature is not surveyed systematically here.
... La pauvreté chronique pourrait être reliée à la négligence chronique, c'est-à-dire celle qui ne répond pas bien aux interventions et qui a tendance à se répéter. Les individus vivant dans la pauvreté persistante présentent des déficits importants et éprouvent des difficultés graves comme des problèmes de santé mentale, d'abus de substances, de violence conjugale et d'activités criminelles, autant de facteurs de risque de la négligence (Wilson & Horner, 2005). Par ailleurs, la pauvreté transitoire pourrait protéger de la négligence ou, à tout le moins, ne pas en consituer un facteur de risque. ...
... Poverty plays out in the family's ability to provide shelter, food, and medical care to its members as well as affecting family functioning (Conger, Ge, Elder, Lorenz, & Simons, 1994;Freisthler, Bruce, & Needell, 2007;Juby & Rycraft, 2004). Previous studies reveal a relationship between the detrimental effects of low-income and economic pressure on family functioning at many levels, in particular psychological well-being of the parents and the disciplinary practices they employ (Fisher, Fagot, & Leve, 1998;Peterson & Hawley, 1998;Wilson & Horner, 2005). ...
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This research examines the impact of the Poverty Simulation Project, an experiential learning modality, on students' understanding of life in poverty. A total of 101 students representing 5 undergraduate majors in the College of Health and Human Services completed measures of critical thinking, understanding of others, and the active learning scales. Results indicate that although students did not change their thinking about the causes of poverty, they changed their perceptions about the difficulties of the daily lives of the poor, increased their ability to analyze life situations, and stimulated their further thinking about poverty. Results demonstrate that social work majors did not differ from other majors in their gains from this experience. Implications for teaching about poverty and the poor, especially as it relates to experiential learning, are discussed.
... It is particularly important that prevention programs be effective with this form of maltreatment. As discussed by Wilson and Horner (2005), however, much work remains to be done regarding program and policy development for families facing poverty and also neglecting their children. Work in this area is emerging (see Kaplan (Ed.) special issue of Protecting Children, 24), but this continues to be an area of pressing research and intervention need. ...
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Child neglect has negative effects throughout the life span. Although an argument for a link between intellectual disabilities and neglectful parenting can be made, this article argues for a more fine-grained view of the cognitive problems that underlie child neglect perpetration and provides evidence for a social information processing model of it's etiology. Based on this model and what is known about the efficacy of behaviorally based interventions, implications for enhancements to the social service system to adapt to the needs of parents with intellectual disabilities are presented. The areas covered include improvements to screening and assessment of parents, provision of adapted services, and changes in selection processes and training of staff. Future directions for integrating social information processing elements into interventions are discussed with examples from empirically supported treatment and prevention programs.
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Despite broad support for family preservation as a policy, an approach to service delivery, and a program model, sufficient knowledge has accumulated to warrant reconsidering the use of intensive family preservation programs in public child welfare practice. Based on an integrative review of the child maltreatment and family preservation literature, the current rationale for programs-the prevention of placement-should be abandoned, and a new rationale should be developed. One such approach is articulated, including specification of new roles, goals, and target populations for intensive family preservation programs.
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The aim of this paper was to review the literature on attachment and child maltreatment in relation to the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment. A review of the literature to date was undertaken, and a descriptive analysis of 13 studies on the quality of attachment in maltreated samples was conducted. Quality of infant attachment seems to be in the most part dependent upon the sensitiveness of the mother. Not surprisingly the majority of studies demonstrates that on average maltreated children are less securely attached to their mothers than nonmaltreated children. This early mother-infant relationship is said to be internalized by the child and consequently form a prototype to which all future relationships are assimilated. Thus maltreated children may have problems forming relationships with peers, partners and their own children. It is suggested that this is the primary process by which maltreatment continues from one generation to the next. The implications of this process for the prediction and prevention of childhood maltreatment are discussed.
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The research describes and compares patterns of maltreatment recurrence across multiple states using large samples, confirms the patterns of recurrence found in the literature, and explores unreported patterns of recurrence. A recurrence data set for calendar years 1994 and 1995 was constructed from the multi-state case level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. These data were available for 10 states and included a range from 2,419 to 99,288 substantiated or indicated report-child pairs per state. A common set of data constructs lent consistency to data construction and analysis, while preserving differences in policy. Event History Analysis (survival) techniques were used. Single site studies were confirmed across the 10 states. These include the pattern where neglect is most likely to recur, followed by physical abuse and then sexual abuse. Similarly, younger children are more likely to recur. A finding of the analysis is that the likelihood of recurrence increases in a systematic and consistent fashion based upon the sequential ordering of recurrent maltreatment events. Also, the likelihood of recurrence is associated with the provision of postinvestigative services. Highly consistent patterns of recurrence were observed across states. Children experiencing multiple recurrences compared to no recurrence or one recurrence may represent a special at risk population requiring additional research. Adequate baselines and an understanding of recurrence is needed when considering recurrence as an outcome indicator or in developing risk assessment tools. Important recurrence patterns may be difficult to detect reliably with relatively small samples.
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Using data from an ongoing study of welfare recipients and their preschool-aged children, this study examined levels and correlates of self-reported depressive symptoms, and factors predicting transition off welfare assistance, among 173 low-income, single, African American mothers. Forty percent reported symptom levels that are likely to indicate a diagnosis of clinical depression, and very few had received any mental health services. Mothers who had lived as children in households that received AFDC, who had received AFDC themselves for more than five years, who perceived less social support to be available to them, and who reported more life stressors, had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms. Controlling for these factors associated with depression, women with higher symptom levels were slightly less likely to stop receiving AFDC tor some period of time over the two years of the study, but were no less likely to work or attend school. Implications of these findings for the development of programs and services for families on welfare are discussed.
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This study examines the role of maternal depressive symptoms and low maternal literacy in predicting outcomes in two generations in families receiving welfare: mothers' employment and children's development. The sample consists of 351 African-American families, each with a preschool-age child, in which the mother had applied for or was receiving welfare. Close to the start of the study, 52.6 percent of the mothers in the sample had scores indicating lower literacy, 39.5 percent reported moderate to high levels of depressive symptoms, and 24.6 percent had a co-occurrence of these. Using continuous scores, in multivariate analyses of variance, neither level of literacy, extent of depressive symptoms, nor the interaction of these, were found to predict two measures of subsequent employment (any employment across the two year follow-up period, and current employment at the time of the follow-up). However, when cut points were used (low literacy; moderate to high depressive symptoms), mothers with low literacy were found less often to be employed approximately two years later. Multivariate analyses of variance examining the set of child outcomes (cognitive school readiness and behavior problems) in light of mothers' depressive symptoms and literacy level found a statistically significant interaction of literacy level and extent of depressive symptoms: children of mothers with more depressive symptoms had less favorable developmental outcomes only in the presence of low maternal literacy. Structural equation models provide evidence that parenting behavior mediates the relationship between the predictor variables and child outcomes, and that the pathways from depressive symptoms through parenting to child outcomes are stronger when maternal depressive symptoms co-occur with low maternal literacy.
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This article highlights the manner in which child neglect, the most common form of maltreatment, affects children's development. The review is organized according to three developmental periods (i.e., infancy/preschool, school-aged and younger adolescents, and older adolescents and adults) and major developmental processes (cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral). Although the focus is on specific and unique effects of various forms of child neglect, particular attention is paid to studies that allow comparisons of neglect and abuse that clarify their similarities and differences. Past as well as very recent findings converge on the conclusion that child neglect can have severe, deleterious short- and long-term effects on children's cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioral development. Consistent with attachment and related theories, neglect occurring early in life is particularly detrimental to subsequent development. Moreover, neglect is associated with effects that are, in many areas, unique from physical abuse, especially throughout childhood and early adolescence. Relative to physically abused children, neglected children have more severe cognitive and academic deficits, social withdrawal and limited peer interactions, and internalizing (as opposed to externalizing) problems. The current review offers further support for the long-standing conclusion that child neglect poses a significant challenge to children's development and well-being. Limitations with regard to the state of the knowledge are discussed and directions for future research are outlined.
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This article represents part of the authors' ongoing review of research concerning the whole range of child maltreatment, including physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. The typology presented in this article includes the following categories: physical neglect; developmental neglect; and emotional neglect, which is divided into a general type and nonorganic failure-to-thrive. Within this typology, the authors examine the research literature to discover relationships between each type of neglect and etiological factors, including: Stressors; cultural patterns or beliefs; lack of skills or supports; problems in family roles or relationships; and personality characteristics of parents and adult caretakers.