Child Neglect: Practice Issues for Health and Social Care

By Julie Taylor; Brigid Daniel | Go to book overview
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Chapter Four
The Nature of Emotional Child
Neglect and Abuse
Brian Minty
Introduction
The aim of this chapter is to try to clarify the nature and definition of child neglect, emotional neglect and emotional abuse and to demonstrate their inter-relationships. It is hoped that it will help practitioners better recognize emotional neglect and abuse, and respond with sensitivity. In particular, the significance of emotional neglect is emphasized, without downgrading the importance of physical neglect. The basic argument is that physical abuse and neglect have a character and impact that are as much emotional and psychological in nature as physical, but that there are also other forms of abuse and neglect that are not expressed physically (or sexually) at all, and these are best categorized as emotional neglect and abuse. The impact and harm of these other forms of maltreatment have not always received the attention due to them. Also, emotional abuse and neglect can be used as residual terms. Types of abuse that are not physical or sexual should be categorized as emotional (or psychological) abuse. Types of neglect that are not physical should be categorized as emotional (or psychological) neglect.The justification for undertaking this task is two-fold:
1. Experts in this field (Clausen and Crittenden 1991, p.6) suggest that the difficulties of defining terms and assessing aspects of child maltreatment have been a major obstacle in writing about child abuse and neglect.
2. Unless the full nature and diversity of child maltreatment is recognized, there is a danger that professional intervention may sometimes fail to grasp the reality of the harm done to children, and the nature of the help children and families require.

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