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Neglect of a Child

Neglect is a failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. There are different types of neglect, including physical, emotional and medical neglect. With physical neglect, the parent, guardian or person responsible for the care of the child may fail to provide the child with food, clothing or shelter necessary to sustain life or health. Acts or omissions involved with neglect are not due solely to the lack of financial means of the parents or guardian. Emotional neglect refers to a lack of emotional support and love.

Medical Neglect includes acts or omissions by a parent, guardian, or person responsible for the care of a child resulting in harm to a child, or presenting a likelihood of harm. This term may include, but is not limited to, failure to use resources available to treat a diagnosed medical condition if such treatment will make a child substantially more comfortable, reduce pain and suffering, or correct or substantially diminish a crippling condition from worsening.

A parent legitimately practicing religious beliefs who does not provide specified medical treatment for a child because of religious beliefs shall not for that reason be considered a negligent parent. (KSA 38-2202)

Neglect can also include lack of supervision or abandonment. The first involves the failure to provide adequate supervision of a child or to remove a child from a situation which requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a likelihood of harm to the child (KSA 38-2202). Abandonment is to forsake, desert or cease providing care for the child without making appropriate provisions for substitute care (KSA 38-2202).

Indicators of Neglect

There are many physical and behavioral indicators of neglect. This is a list of common indicators and is not all inclusive, as there could be other indicators presented.

Common Physical Indicators

  • Constant hunger
  • Lack of proper supervision, abandonment or desertion
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of adequate clothing, or clothing consistently not appropriate for weather conditions
  • Lack of medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses
  • Lack of adequate nutrition and shelter
  • Failure to achieve expected growth patterns
  • Physical and speech delays
  • Failure to thrive physically or emotionally
  • Child states feeling pain in the mouth, jaw or ear
  • Diagnosed signs of dental decay and the child states feeling pain and has difficulty eating

Common Behavioral Indicators

  • Begging, stealing and hoarding food
  • Extended stays at school
  • Frequently absent from school
  • Constant fatigue
  • Delinquency
  • States there is no caretaker
  • Runaway behavior
  • Conduct disorders
  • Behavior extremes
  • Develops habits such as sucking, biting, and rocking

Source: Kansas Department for Children and Families and

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