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Would eradicating poverty end child neglect?

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Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Definitely not, unfortunately.

This belief makes a couple of faulty assumptions. First, it assumes that only the poor are at risk of child neglect. Second, it assumes that the wealthy always take good care of their children. Neither of these are true statements.

One of the things that child neglect encompasses is abandonment or failure to provide adequate supervision. While it's easy to imagine a single mother struggling to make ends meet and leaving her children home alone while she works a night shift, thereby putting them in danger, it's important to remember that the other extreme also exists. There are some parents who are wealthy enough to go where they want and when they want—and their children may not be part of those plans. Thus, there are children from upper-class homes who do not have adequate adult supervision at all times.

Some facets of child neglect are far less likely to become issues of wealthier children, such as proper nutrition, shelter, and clothing. But Psychology Today asks those in charge of children to consider child neglect when the following parental behaviors present:

  • Indifferent to the child.
  • Apathetic or depressed.
  • Irrational.
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Clearly these are behaviors that cross socioeconomic lines. Driving while under the influence, allowing children to engage in chronic truancy, leaving a young child in a car unattended, and leaving children home alone without adult supervision are not issues that plague only the poorest parents in society.

Although there is a common relationship between families with lower incomes and the rate of child neglect, the impact that more affluent parents can have should not be ignored.