Is This Child Neglect?
The Influence of Differences in Perceptions
of Child Neglect on Social Work Practice
At one level the answer appears obvious; there are both working definitions of neglect and lists of signs and indicators. However, the definitions and the lists are open to individual interpretation and this is where the differences described by the respondent can occur. Lally (1984) notes that different perceptions of child neglect are determined by cultural agreement and belief systems, social systems and the personal views held by individuals. Sullivan (2000) summarizes ways in which these views influence both professional and media attitudes towards neglect. In an overview of the literature she found the following beliefs exist about child neglect:
How do I know what I consider to be neglect is the same as everyone else
working with the child?
|•||child neglect does not have serious consequences|
|•||it is inappropriate to judge parents involved in poverty-related neglect|
|•||child neglect is an insurmountable problem|
|•||other forms of child maltreatment are more compelling|
|•||ambiguity and vagueness make it difficult to define neglect|