Effects of Neglect in Children & Animals

Trainer: Muzzammil Shafee

Aim: To make humans learn about the consequences of neglect in children & animals and spread the awareness around.

Neglecting children and animals would not only affect them badly but its consequences will also badly affect the society that they live in.
– Muzzammil
Whenever you come across someone going through one of the three problems (Social, Biological or Physical), chances are that they have been neglected in their childhood.

Bio-psycho-social Perspective

Neglect affects a child’s life in almost every section, including biological psychological and social domains. Listed are the 3 most commonly possible consequences that neglect can cause.

  • Biological aspect of neglect is that it might cause physical health issues, injuries consequently leading to brain damage from those injuries and even death. 
  • Psychological consequences can be the low self-esteem, trust issues, attentional problems, attachment problems, learning difficulties and social isolation.
  • Social consequences can be poor peer relation, communication problems, bullying, violent and criminal behaviors
Read more: Neglect - Training Outline for Grown-Ups

Harms of Child Neglect

Childhood neglect can cause hindrance in one’s cognitive and mental growth.
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Mental Health Problems:

Children who experience neglect are at the risk of developing a number of mental disorders including;

  • conduct disorders,
  • mood disorders,
  • anxiety disorders,
  • substance abuse,
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
  • PTSD,
  • adjustment disorders,
  • oppositional defiant disorder 

Behavioral Problems:

A neglected child will develop different problematic behaviors and can be externalizing behaviors. For instance, being aggressive or hyperactive internalizing behaviors like;

  • being withdrawn,
  • being sad,
  • being isolated,
  • being depressed

during the childhood some of which may persist forever until treated.

A stressful childhood can lead to many physical health problem. Emotional and physical neglect is traumatizing and unforgettable for most children – no matter how much they age.
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Physical Health Problems:

Child’s physical health can be badly affected due to extreme weather in which if child is not taken care can cause cold, fever, throat infection and other physical health issues which if s/he remains neglected can even lead to death of a child.

Read More: Abandonment Issues & their Results in Children and Animals

Learning & Developmental Problems:

Developmental stages of a child can be affected by neglect in a way that it can hinder child’s language development, intellectual abilities and academic performance later on in life.

A neglected child doesn’t know how to cope when socializing outside his or her home. They tend to either be victimized or turn the table and bully someone else. They find it difficult to work on their relationships.
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Attachment & Interpersonal Relationship Problems: 

The early years of a child’s life are very important in developing and determining their attachment pattern. The children who have insecure attachment with their mother or caregiver develop insecure attachment patterns for the rest of their life and always feel insecure in their relationships in the later life.

Drug Abuse:

Another psychological affect is that neglected children are at the risk of using drugs and being addicted during adolescence and adulthood to forget their sorrows.

Read more: Physical Abuse - Training Outline for Adults

Risk & Protective Factors

All the children that are experiencing neglect will not be affected in the same way. Following are some factors that can play a role.

  • Age
  • Developmental status
  • Gender
  • Resilience
  • Environment
  • Large family
  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Social support

Age: A child who is of younger age where she/he is she totally depending on adult for basic survival need for example food etc. this child can suffer more as compared to a child elder than him/her who has the money concept and can buy snacks or take out something from fridge and eat it. Similarly for other needs washing clothes etc. an elder child can help himself but younger and depending child would be more vulnerable and prone to the consequences of neglect. This is how age be risk or protective factor.

Developmental status: For a child to achieve different developmental milestones varying levels of nourishment and care is required. For new born babies whose brain is developing would need different food than a child who has started walking would need a diet for his growing muscles as well. And needs someone to be around to keep a check because he might fall down in efforts to walk and might bang his/ her head in wall. For a younger child who is learning new habits a caregiver should be there to see if the child learns right things through observational learning. This is how negligent parenting can affect a child at different developmental levels.

Resilience: A child who by temperament is resilient would somehow cope neglect as compared to a child who is not resilient enough. Therefore, it can be said that resilience becomes the protective factor.

Large family: Children living in a large families would be affected by neglect more adversely because not only the caregivers are negligent but the resources attention, love and time are further divided on more number of children. As compared to the small families where there will be less number of children to compete for parent’s attention, time, affection and other tangible resources.

Frequency: The frequency of neglect is another factor to consider. How frequently a child is being affected would showcase the severity of the consequences a child is facing. A child who is occasionally not given lunch for school or doesn’t get meals at home, no blanket for sleeping in  a winter night or has an incomplete or untidy school uniform would face less consequences (self-esteem, performance etc.) issues as compared to child who has is regularly deprived of food, not having whether appropriate clothing etc. etc. He is more at the risk of developing low self-esteem, inferiority complex and being bullied and many other problems because of it.

Intensity: The intensity of neglect also affect the consequences of neglect received. For instance, a child who needs an immediate medical treatment might lose his/her life if not given the needed medical treatment in emergency situation because parents were busy as compared to child who has not been given food once a week because mother was busy.

Duration: How long a child has been suffering from neglect the time period also matters. It affects the child psychologically and physically.

Social Support: A child with negligent parent would not be affected that badly if there is some alternative social support available. As compared to child who has no other support than parents  

Consequences of Neglect in Animals

If we talk about animal neglect it would be very similar i.e. not taking care of animal’s basic need i.e. need for food, shelter, basic health care, cleanliness, protection from extreme weather, conditions, caging or chaining animal to suppress their freedom — this all include animal neglect.


The neglected animals face number of problems including;

Zoo came out in 2015 and tried tackling the animal psychology mixed with the of humans to make us all understand the potential problems that could occur if animals behaved rashly or aggressively.

If an animal is neglected their will find all sorts of ways to gain the owner’s attention; be it aggression or overly attached. Sometimes, animals could also retaliate in anger to show how they feel because at the end of the day – they certainly do have feelings!

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