Expanding Our Vision in Child Welfare: Child Neglect from a Structural Violence Perspective



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


Child neglect is the most prevalent type of child maltreatment in the United States (Allin, Wathen, & MacMillan, 2005; Roditti, 2005; Petras, Massat, & Essex, 2002). Children who experience neglect comprise more than half (59.2%) of all child maltreatment victims (Roditti, 2005). Child neglect is the most lethal form of child maltreatment, leading to more than a third of all child fatalities compared with 25.6% for victims of abuse (Roditti, 2005). Despite this widespread prevalence, child neglect has received limited attention in the health and social sciences literature compared to child abuse (Allin et al., 2005; Roditti, 2005). Child neglect emerges through a variety of factors, including family systems issues, parent-child interactions, individual pathologies of parents, and interactions between the parent and the environment (Petras et al., 2002). Despite this complexity, the problem of neglect has generally been framed and addressed in narrow terms. Policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have often viewed neglect through personal and gender-specific terms, most often as the failure of mothers to carry out their mothering responsibilities (Swift, 1995). As a result of all of these factors, effective practice models for working with families affected by child neglect are lacking (Petras et al., 2002).



Mohan V. Krishna, Perspectives on Social Work, Child Welfare, Child Neglect, Social work, Perspectives on Social Work, Child welfare, Child neglect