As a missionary, I’ve been to different places, met different people, spent time with different families, and played with kids and listened to their stories.
I see it myself now, how parents care differently for their children depending on their financial status, cultures, and educational backgrounds. According to Raquel Anderson, LMHC, “A parent is the most important person in a child’s life. It’s never too late to make changes to ensure you’re raising your child in a safe, healthy, and loving environment.”
In the beginning, I thought that it was only in remote areas where parents were not aware of their children’s welfare, that often children experience abuse. According to John M. Grohol, PsyD, “Abused children often suffer from emotional and behavioral problems, which can later develop into sexual dysfunction, anxiety, promiscuity, vulnerability to repeated victimization, depression, and substance abuse.” But based on my experience, neglect also happens even in the metropolitan. Even parents who are educated and have careers are neglecting their children’s rights and are not aware that they are their children’s primary abusers.
Neglect happens when a child is not given the quality care, right supervision, adequate affection and support for his welfare (health, safety, and wellbeing). It is not just about financial or physical neglect, but emotional, medical, and educational as well.
Physical And Emotional Neglect
Your child has to be given the proper care to be healthy. He must be provided with a safe environment, clothing, and food.
Abandoning your child or refusing to take care of him is a form of physical neglect. Leaving him in the care of a family or friend or other people for extended periods keeps the child questioning himself why he is being left alone. There are things he wants to share with his parents that he can’t just tell any stranger, so he just keeps everything to himself. He loses his self-esteem and develops an inferiority complex because he lacks support and encouragement that should come from his own parents.
Every child is in need of love and affection as he is growing up. Ignoring this can put your child’s emotional stability at risk. He may end up isolating himself and may even expose himself to violence and seek out friends that may not be a good influence. Most children who feel abandoned resort to using drugs and other illegal substances, and worst, end up engaging in crimes.
Parents are their child’s primary caregivers and should make sure that their child stays safe and healthy. But what will happen if the parents are too busy to attend to the kid’s medical needs?
Not taking your child to the hospital and have the appropriate medical care he needs might worsen a child’s illness, especially when the child needs to have a followup as recommended by the treating physician. It is essential for the parents to make sure that the child gets the proper medical and dental treatment needed to ensure that he will grow up healthy and appropriately taken care of.
It is a sad truth, in some places I’d been to, not so well-to-do families are more determined to send their children to school and even patiently follow up on their kids’ progress. Children who are well off are the ones who seem to take their education for granted. One reason is that the parents fail to follow up on their kids, thus causing their kids to miss school. Some parents are too busy that they tend to leave the children to sort things out on their own.
Both parents and school staff should take part in the responsibility of making sure that the child has access to equal opportunities when it comes to education for the child’s future.
Child neglect, like any other form of abuse, can cause lifelong damage to a child
- They become indifferent
- They lack care towards siblings or other children
- They suffer from depression, substance abuse, and other mental health issues – According to Danna Costa-Sahs, PsyD, “Depression is a serious mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.”
Each parent has his own parenting style. Some put on excuses to neglect their children; some may say they don’t do it intentionally, others say they do it because they have no means to raise their children.
I may not yet be a parent myself, but I was once a child who needed care, nurturing, protection, attention, and love. I once needed my parents to provide me with necessities – safe shelter, food, decent clothes, and education.
I decided to become a social worker and then a missionary in order to help children who suffer from neglect and abuse because they need help. I may not do much but I know I can do something.
I hope that when you see a child on the street who wears clothing not right for the weather or that is not his size, who is hungry or shows signs of malnutrition, listless and tired, has body odor, that you share a little of yourself. They are not asking for much, but just a little bit of help.
Before you go to bed, take a peep on your own child’s bedroom, see how he is doing. Ask yourself with sincerity, “Is my child one of the blessed few or have I neglected him?”