Warning Signs that a Child is Neglected
There was a time when the signs of abuse and neglect were kept quiet because it was accepted in the society people lived in. Children were whipped with razor straps, spanked and beaten and during the depression, people didn’t have the money to keep their families clean. They barely had food and jobs were nonexistent. People made their own clothes, shoes, coats and darned socks way into the ’60s because people watched how they spent their money. As the generations came and went, doctors that made house calls became nonexistent and America started seeing a new wave of healthcare. People started going to counseling, the feminist movement changed many opportunities for women. Divorce became more rampant. The age of talk shows began on television, social media was designed and introduced and suddenly children started killing teachers and other children in schools. Teachers and faculty were taught to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect in their students and had team meetings about their students. The last 15 years has brought about another kind of problem. Drugs became rampant and parents are losing their children to Child Protective Services. (CPS) More and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren and what was not acceptable 15 years ago, finally is a way of life in urban and rural societies.
What do you do if you suspect a child is neglected and how do you look for the signs as parents, caregivers and faculty members?
There are many signs you will notice if a child is neglected. Children might come to school in the same clothes for a while, they might be unkempt and not clean. They might be really hungry and be needy for attention. Some of these children are told and threatened not to say anything to anyone so they become frightened and withdrawn. The child might go through numerous days without their homework completed because no one helped them complete their homework. They might get all the words wrong on their spelling tests because no one helped them study. The child might start to isolate because no one wants to be their friend. Children might also have marks on their body that don’t seem right to an adult. Some children might not want to go home after school. If some of the children are in foster care too, look for signs of neglect as well. These kids really miss their parents and not all foster parents are in it for the love of children, they are in this field for a check. Children become upset when they talk to an absent parent and there are foster parents that will actually make negative comments about the child’s parents. This is a form of abuse and neglect because the feelings of the child are neglected and the child will begin to act out in a variety of ways. They are all just frightened little human beings and if they are adolescents, they still may be, because they might have been through 4 or 5 homes by the age of 12. Foster parents get paid pretty well for teens that are in a group home setting but it doesn’t always mean that they spend the money on the child. There are many foster parents that just take these kids to Goodwill or thrift stores and don’t trust the child’s judgment on clothes, so look for shoes that are either too big or too small, clothes that don’t fit correctly and if you notice it’s cold and children aren’t wearing warm clothes and coats, this could be a sign of neglect.
There are many great parents out there that are single and their kids come to school in second-hand clothes but they are clean, their children are happy and doing well in school. Once in a while in a one parent home, a child might act out but it could be because they are not seeing their other parent on a regular basis and only one parent is buying everything they need. Field trips become expensive and sometimes single parents can’t afford a 20 dollar field trip, but this doesn’t mean that the child is neglected.
If you happen to be a friend and a neighbor and see a child constantly locked out of his house or notice small children home alone constantly, you might want to try talking to the parents or parent if you feel this is a safety issue. If the parent is uncooperative, then call Children’s Protective Services and voice your complaints. It doesn’t always pay to call the police first because, in some states, they have not established an age where children are allowed to stay home alone so you might be disappointed hearing that comment from a police officer. Police officers are so overworked and understaffed as it is that they have way more problems to deal with. The best results would be through Child Protective services commonly called (CPS). They usually do have an officer accompany them on the first visit if they are unsure of the situation and danger might be a possibility.
If you happen to be a teacher or caregiver, you can sit down with the child and try to establish a trusting relationship. In most cases, the parents are just overworked and have other children and don’t have time to help the children with homework. Many parents might not understand the assignments. This is where you have to decide if you want to choose to help your student with their homework so they may get caught up. A teacher usually will call the parents first and mention that their son or daughter has fallen behind and ask the parents if they can help in any way. Sometimes the parents just aren’t aware and actually will start helping their child catch up, but other times, the teacher probably won’t get a call back so it’s up to them to have a team meeting with some of the child’s other teachers and see if they recognize the same problems; If the teachers as a team are having the same problems, then develop a strategy to help the child pass their classes. Teachers at times wear many hats. They are playing the role of parents, counselors, are strict when need be, offer kindness are great fun and some are mentors as well. Teachers are a huge influence in a child’s life and most children will remember the teachers that stood out and took their time with them or helped them through an emotional crisis when it came to being neglected. One of the most heartbreaking experiences is to see a child neglected in today’s world. People read about neglect every day in the newspapers. Parents often hear very sad situations on social media about a child wandering around in the cold because mommy wasn’t around to watch the child or feed him or her. This is very hard on the people that are trying to have children and can’t because they can’t understand why that precious little bundle of joy turns into another child without a set of parents and they don’t have heat in their home.
Work together as a community and find the families that need a little extra help because being a single parent with 2 or 3 small children is very overwhelming and society has to take the time and help the people in their neighborhood. A block watch should consist of more than just watching for danger, watch for a helpless and neglected child too.