Distinguish between Neglect and Poverty
Pressures to divert the 70% of child maltreatment reports that are “just neglect” into less safe child protection responses reflect concerns about systemic racism, specifically that workers screen in too many African and Native American families because they can’t distinguish poverty from neglect.
But discounting neglect reports is risky. As the American Psychological Association states, “problems that stem from neglect reads like the index of the DSM (the psychiatric manual of mental disorders).
The 60% of sex-trafficked and 57% of homeless youth who are products of the child welfare system often suffer these effects invisibly. Other children respond angrily, as this policewoman’s portrait of a potential mass shooter demonstrates.
Reconciling child-centered practices with concerns about institutional bias is achievable if we cooperate on developing a shared, research-based understanding of neglect.
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