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How to distinguish between neglect and deprivational abuse
  1. M H Golden1,
  2. M P Samuels2,
  3. D P Southall3
  1. 1Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Consultant Paediatrician, North Staffordshire Hospital and Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, Keele University, UK
  3. 3Honorary Medical Director, Child Advocacy International ( and, Consultant Paediatrician, North Staffordshire Hospital, and Foundation Professor of Paediatrics, Keele University, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. D P Southall, Academic Department of Paediatrics, City General Hospital, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG, UK;


Neglect is a major cause of inadequate childcare in all societies and should be differentiated from abuse. “Neglect” is defined here, as the “neglectful” failure to supply the needs of the child, including emotional needs. It does not include the deliberate and malicious withholding of needs, which is a form of abuse. Neglect has its roots in ignorance of a child’s needs and competing priorities; it is passive and usually sustained. The carer is without motive and unaware of the damage being caused. Malnutrition is a prime example of neglect; the stigma associated with the term abuse should never be applied to the poor struggling or uneducated mother whose child, that she loves dearly, becomes malnourished. Education of the mother and society and relief from the vicissitudes of poverty are required to alleviate most neglect of the world’s children.

  • neglect
  • deprivational abuse

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