Tort that happens in the family


When we think about mistreatment, physical violence always comes to mind, but there are much more subtle ways to exercise it, sometimes even unconsciously.

This is the case of parental neglect . We are going to discover what this concept consists of and what variants can be observed.

What is parental neglect

Parental or child neglect is a form of mistreatment of parents (or guardians) towards children due to a lack of care for their basic needs, or their poor management. To be considered as such, it must occur continuously over time. That is, we could not speak of parental neglect when an isolated episode occurs, unless it is of considerable severity.

Our society has come a long way in eradicating violence in the education of children, but there is still much to be done regarding parental neglect, which would represent one of the greatest problems of childhood vulnerability, and that is that there is great ignorance of the scope that its consequences may have.

Children are absolutely dependent on their caregivers , and they have a series of needs at various levels, both physiological, psychological and social, and must be adequately covered, always corresponding to each stage of development, making the child develop with normality and without any lack.

A negligent father or mother would be characterized by one or more of these behaviors:

  • You are unable to detect your child's needs.
  • You consider your own needs to be more important than the child's.
  • You are wrong in what you consider to be the child's genuine needs.

Of course, parental neglect can lead to a series of consequences that can extend even to his adult life , so it is not a minor problem, but an issue to tackle to avoid any repercussion that affects this person in the medium or long term. and who needs, for example, a deep psychological therapy to resolve. Later we will delve into some of the possible sequels that can be experienced.

Causes of parental neglect

Parental neglect can occur due to a number of very different factors, relating to the parents or guardians of minors. Let's see a classification of them.

1. Addictions

In cases in which the father or mother or both maintain a continuous consumption of toxic substances, either alcohol or drugs, it is a high indicator of a potential case of parental neglect.

This occurs even before the child is born, during pregnancy , since harmful substances that the mother can consume would pass into the bloodstream and from there to the fetus, causing irreversible sequelae.

Once born, the lack of care would continue, as their parents are incapacitated a large part of the time due to their state of intoxication, which would make it impossible to adequately cover the needs of the child.

2. Mental disorders

On other occasions it may be the case that one of the parents suffers from a psychological pathology that affects the perception of reality , for example through psychotic outbreaks, or that in some way their cognitive and emotional capacity is diminished.

It would be another cause that would be directly affecting adults in their capacities to care for children properly.

3. Lack of parental skills

Sometimes there is no direct determining factor, but due to various circumstances, including having been victims of child neglect as children, certain parents do not have the necessary skills to practice as parents in a correct way, neglecting even the most demanding tasks. basic.

In these cases, children would only be provided with care intended for mere survival, without covering any additional need , which are also essential for complete development.

4. Very large families

In families at risk of exclusion that also have a large number of children, there may be cases of parental neglect, since sometimes older children are required to do adult tasks in relation to the care of their younger siblings , who Obviously they should be the responsibility of an adult person.

In this way, older children suffer from parental neglect as they are not treated as children but as adults, and younger children would suffer it when their needs were met only in part, since logically the care provided by siblings is not the same. that parents should provide.

5. Lack of resources

In line with the previous point, there are family units where economic resources are very limited and sometimes the social protection offered by the State does not cover their needs, so that adults do not have the capacity to meet the obligations they have towards their children.

Types of parental neglect

The problem of parental neglect is varied, and we can classify it according to the dimension in which the lack of coverage of needs is framed. This would be a classification proposal.

1. Physical negligence

In this category would be all the behaviors that in some way are impeding or damaging the correct physical development of the child , and the range of options is very wide, starting with the feeding of the minor, which must be sufficient and appropriate for his age and needs. concrete.

It would also be a failure to provide the child with appropriate clothing for each season, so that he is protected from the heat and cold or inclement weather. Likewise, not protecting you from the sun in summer with elements that cover your head from the sun, protective cream, etc.

Also everything related to hygiene and proper health control , worrying about healing your scratches and wounds, and promptly going to the appropriate pediatric appointments for vaccinations, check-ups or any medical incident that has to be resolved. In fact, it is in the medical context, in addition to the school setting, where most cases of parental neglect are detected, when doctors find clear indicators that the child is not being well cared for and inform the authorities. competent, as is their duty.

Of course, any other lack of protection measure in each corresponding context, for example the lack of a special seat and / or seat belt when traveling in the car, would constitute a clear cause of physical parental neglect.

2. Psychological neglect

The child's psychological needs must be properly addressed. A form of negligence in this sense would be not to properly stimulate his cognitive capacities through games and activities indicated for his evolutionary stage, or even to ignore him.

Likewise, depriving him of a correct socialization with his peers (playing with other children) would also be preventing the optimal development of his identity and psychological functions.

3. Educational neglect

Obviously, it would also be a clear negligence not to provide the minor with a formal education, but this is mandatory by law and also free , so it would also be a crime.

Education is one of the primary rights of the child, and its benefits are invaluable: the acquisition of skills and knowledge, psychological development, the learning of interpersonal skills, etc. If we deprive the child of all this, we will be greatly hindering her development and subsequent transition to adulthood.


We already know the different causes and possible types of parental neglect that we can find, but just as important are the consequences that this phenomenon can trigger in the child , as we anticipated at the beginning.

The consequences can range from physical problems, whether due to poor nutrition, unattended ailments ... to a lack of development due to a lack of stimuli and education appropriate for their age. But let's dig deeper into the psychological aftermath that continued parental neglect can trigger.


Attachment is the emotional bond that is established between the child and the adult during the upbringing. It can be of the following types:

  • Safe: the baby is able to explore the environment by feeling protected by the support figure.
  • Anxious: it is difficult for them to get away from the support figure, so the exploration is very reduced.
  • Avoidant: they do not have a good link with the support figure, so they can get away from it.
  • Disorganized: combines the previous two, behaving erratically and changing.

Logically, secure attachment is optimal and to which all parenting guidelines should be directed, but in situations of parental neglect other types are likely to develop, especially avoidant and disorganized ones.

The possible consequences that an insecure attachment can have on the child when he becomes an adult are many and varied. You may have trouble regulating your emotions, experience difficulties doing social activities, be emotionally dependent on someone insanely, have a negative view of yourself (low self-esteem and self-concept), suffer from behavioral problems, and more.

This does not mean that the children of parents who exercise parental neglect are condemned to a life marked by these events and to suffer psychological disorders , since not all develop them and in the case of doing so they can always carry out attachment repair therapies, which work in a very satisfactory way, but obviously it is preferable to eliminate the problem before it occurs, since we have already seen the scope of the consequences and their maintenance over time.

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