When Failing to Act Becomes Neglect

When Failing to Act Becomes NeglectChild abuse and neglect are both serious problems, but child abuse is better understood. Abuse is typically associated with harmful actions while neglect is associated with inaction. Nevertheless, neglect can be just as detrimental to a child as abuse. Just like abuse, neglect can cause both short and long-term medical, psychological, emotional, cognitive, and social problems in a child. Although lesser understood, child neglect leads to more fatalities per year than child abuse does because it can cause significant health problems in a growing child. Because of this, it’s important to be able to identify and define child neglect.

Child neglect is defined as “the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide proper supervision for a child or adequate food, clothing, shelter, education or medical care although financially able or assisted to do so.” Specifically, a parent might neglect a child if he or she failed to provide:

  • Necessary food and water
  • Shelter
  • Adequate clothing (e.g. not providing a coat for cold weather)
  • Proper supervision (e.g. leaving the child unattended)
  • Necessary medical or mental health treatment
  • An education or special education needs (e.g. failing to enroll a child in school)
  • Emotional support (e.g. failing to attend to a child’s emotional and psychological needs or permitting the child to engage in harmful behavior such as drug and alcohol use)

Child neglect comes in many forms. But the common element is a parent or caregiver’s failure to act. A child need not be directly harmed to be neglected, which is important to understand. Many parents worry that because they cannot afford to meet their child’s needs, their child will be taken away from them. Sometimes a parent needs assistance to provide his or her child with necessities, and New Jersey’s child welfare agency can provide that extra help. Unfortunately, to get the help they need, parents may have to answer to the DCP&P, follow a case plan, and meet certain requirements, which are heavy burdens when time and resources are already stretched thin.

If you are facing allegations of neglect, you should speak with an attorney. A knowledgeable New Jersey child welfare attorney can advise you on what constitutes neglect and advise you of your rights so you can make the best decision for you and your family. Being unable to meet your child’s needs because of limited resources does not necessarily constitute neglect. An attorney can also help ensure the DCP&P, New Jersey’s child welfare agency, can provide you the services and support you need to reunify your family.

Are you facing allegations of child neglect? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help ensure your right to due process is defended. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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