Child Neglect Case in West Palm Beach
Palm Beach Post. The mentally disturbed mother of a young girl who was found walking alone in the Westgate neighborhood of surburban West Palm Beach has been charged with child neglect without bodily harm, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office affidavit.
The sheriff’s affidavit states this isn’t the first time Gramson left her daughter alone. A neighbor told detectives Gramson walked off, leaving her daughter by herself two years ago.
Child neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment in the United States. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), of the approximately 899,000 children in the United States who were victims of abuse and neglect in 2005, 62.8 percent (564,765 children) suffered from neglect alone, including medical neglect (USDHHS, 2007). According to NCANDS, 42.2 percent of child maltreatment fatalities in the United States in 2005 occurred as a result of neglect only, 24.1 percent as a result of physical abuse and neglect, and 27.3 percent as a result of multiple maltreatment types (USDHHS, 2007).
What Is Neglect?
NCANDS defines neglect as “a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so” (USDHHS, 2007). Neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child. Physicians, nurses, day care personnel, relatives and neighbors are frequently the ones to suspect and report neglect in infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children. Once children are in school, school personnel often notice indicators of child neglect such as poor hygiene, poor weight gain, inadequate medical care or frequent absences from school.
Types of Neglect
Professionals define four types of neglect physical, educational, emotional and medical.
Physical neglect accounts for the majority of cases of maltreatment. Physical neglect generally involves the parent or caregiver not providing the child with basic necessities (e.g., adequate food, clothing and shelter). Failure or refusal to provide these necessities endangers the child’s physical health, well-being, psychological growth and development. Physical neglect also includes child abandonment, inadequate supervision, rejection of a child leading to expulsion from the home and failure to adequately provide for the child’s safety and physical and emotional needs.
Educational neglect involves the failure of a parent or caregiver to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school or provide appropriate home schooling or needed special educational training, thus allowing the child or youth to engage in chronic truancy.
Emotional/Psychological neglect includes actions such as engaging in chronic or extreme spousal abuse in the child’s presence, allowing a child to use drugs or alcohol, refusing or failing to provide needed psychological care, constantly belittling the child and withholding affection. Parental behaviors considered to be emotional child maltreatment include:
- Ignoring (consistent failure to respond to the child’s need for stimulation, nurturance, encouragement and protection or failure to acknowledge the child’s presence);
- Rejecting (actively refusing to respond to the child’s needs — e.g., refusing to show affection);
- Verbally assaulting (constant belittling, name calling or threatening);
- Isolating (preventing the child from having normal social contacts with other children and adults);
- Terrorizing (threatening the child with extreme punishment or creating a climate of terror by playing on childhood fears); and
- Corrupting or exploiting (encouraging the child to engage in destructive, illegal or antisocial behavior).
Medical neglect is the failure to provide appropriate health care for a child (although financially able to do so), thus placing the child at risk of being seriously disabled or disfigured or dying. According to NCANDS, in 2005, 2 percent of children (17,637 children) in the United States were victims of medical neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Concern is warranted not only when a parent refuses medical care for a child in an emergency or for an acute illness, but also when a parent ignores medical recommendations for a child with a treatable chronic disease or disability, resulting in frequent hospitalizations or significant deterioration.
What Can You Do?
If you suspect child neglect is occurring, first report it to the local child protective services agency (often called “social services” or “human services”) in your county or state.