Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety and well-being are threatened with harm. This may include:

  • Malnourishment
  • Lacking a safe place to live
  • Abandonment
  • Truancy
  • Witness to violence
  • Drug endangerment
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of needed medical care
  • Insufficient supervision.

Neglect accounts for about three quarters of reports to child welfare authorities, in part because it can be easier to identify than abuse.

Physical Signs of Neglect may include:

  • Consistent hunger
  • Poor hygiene
  • Inadequate or inappropriate dress
  • Consistent lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities or for long periods of time
  • Unattended physical problems or needs

Behavioral Signs of Neglect may include:

  • Begging for or stealing food
  • Extended stays at school (early arrival and late departure)
  • Constant fatigue or falling asleep in class
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Delinquency
  • Poor record of school attendance
  • States there is no caretaker

If neglect is suspected, you should report it to DSS and law enforcement. For more on information on reporting abuse or neglect visit our Recognize, Respond, Report page.