Long-Term Impacts of Childhood Neglect
Neglect can take many forms; educational neglect, emotional neglect, physical neglect, and medical neglect are among the most common.
While every type of neglect presents different outcomes, they all have one thing in common: the child’s condition worsens over time.
Depression and Development
Like children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse, neglected children are at a high risk of suffering physical, emotional, and psychological consequences.
Among the most common long-term effects of neglect are depression, hampered physical and cognitive development, and behavioral problems.
What is surprising is that the severity of these outcomes is much less consistent in victims of neglect than in victims of other forms of child abuse. Researchers believe this inconsistency is tied directly to an individual’s resilience.
Researchers note that an individual who has an ability to remain optimistic after their abuse and move beyond their neglect is likely to build meaningful relationships and less likely to suffer from chronic depression. However, the longer a child is neglected, the less likely they will be able to move on.
Negative Effects of Neglect Cumulate Over Time
Experts tend to agree that the consequences of childhood neglect are often cumulative. This means the longer a child is subjected to a specific type of neglect, the greater the negative consequences and more difficult their recovery.
For example, it is easier for a child who is subjected to educational neglect during the early years of their life to recover than a child who experiences educational neglect well into their teen years.
Similarly, a child who experiences medical neglect over a period of 10 years is much more likely to develop a chronic and/or debilitating impairment than a child who is subjected to medical neglect for period of 10 months.
This is why identifying and reporting cases of neglect as early as possible is so important – time is the difference between a child’s ear infection being treated and a child's ear infection deteriorating into deafness; time is the difference between a child being hungry and a child suffering stunted growth from malnutrition; time is the difference between a child who is a grade-level behind and a child who will never have a chance at a complete education