Childhood neglect accounts for about half of all reports of maltreatment and abuse (Barnett, 126). Having limited knowledge about the effects of neglect, it has led scientists and psychologists to further research to identify the factors that influence it, which happens to be greatest in children younger than five years old and in low-income families. It is an issue that has recently been given a lot of attention, and thankfully, the numbers of programs are growing rapidly to help children cope with their trauma. These programs however, aren’t popular or even available in other countries, where child abandonment is more common. This neglect at an early age, affects a child psychologically, and hinders their cognitive development, which changes their whole lives, physically and mentally.
The impact of early childhood neglect may not even be identifiable at early stages, except in the most extreme cases. It depends on a number of factors including: The child’s age, the relationship to the caregiver, the duration of neglect, and the severity (DePanfilis, 2006). Children are easily influenced, because of their naiveté on how their society works and how to behave appropriately. TRANSITION. Neglect is reflected in the child’s daily schedule. The most apparent effects of neglect are observed when interacting with others, especially in a school setting. These children tend to be quiet and submissive, have very low self-confidence, and have trouble getting along with those their age, quite possibly even trying to provoke fights or solicit sexual interactions (DePanfilis, 2006). As they grow up they begin to lack important skills and emotions such as limited feelings of remorse or empathy, and frequently demonstrate impaired social cognition, which is ones awareness of how their actions affect others. When a primary caregiver does not give the support that is needed, neglected children consequently find it very hard after, to develop close relationships because of deep trust issues, especially towards adults in memory of the maltreatment they have received (Child Abuse and Neglect, 2012). This constant social struggle in turn creates problems in their adolescence. Later issues caused by neglect usually (typically) result to substance abuse, poor eating and sleeping behaviors, and severe depression with possible signs of self-abusive behavior. TRANSITION TO PHYSICAL
Not only are these victims socially inept, their brain development also suffers, sometimes resulting in intellectual disabilities. New studies from the Boston Children’s Hospital demonstrates (Indicate, test, validate) that “apart from children growing up with normal emotional and social interaction, [the neglected] have measurably different brain structures from other kids”. This same study focuses on the children raised in Romania’s infamous state orphanages. The MRIs validated that the children raised in the poor living conditions have developed considerably lower amount of grey and white matter volume than those who lived a ‘normal’ life with their families (Blue, 2012). The first few years of children’s’ lives are crucial stages in brain development, were neural synapses are formed at a rapid rate (Myers, 151). Grey matter is the part of the brain that controls sensory perception and muscle control, which is extremely important in early development stages. White matter is responsible for connecting the different regions of the brain. Neglect leads to stunted growth of the brain which, according to prof. Diane DePanfilis is developed to become “adaptive for the child’s negative environment, but maladaptive for functional or positive environments”. Which is the reason that most maltreated children are underweight. Due to the lack of brain capacity, intellectual disabilities are diagnosed because of their abnormal characteristics, such as not being able to learn new things and impaired speech. (Child Abuse and Neglect, 2012)