NeglectNeglect

The Children’s Act (2005) defines neglect as “a failure in the exercise of parental responsibilities to provide for the basic physical, intellectual, emotional or social needs” of the child.

The United National Committee on the Rights of the Child (2011) provides a slightly more detailed definition, noting that neglect involves the "failure to meet children’s physical and psychological needs, protect them from danger, or obtain medical, birth registration or other services when those responsible for children’s care have the means, knowledge and access to services to do so" .

Neglect is distinguished from circumstances of poverty in that neglect occurs only in cases where reasonable resources are available to the family or caregiver; that is, where a parent or caregiver is in a position to meet a child's need but fails to do so.

Adolescents experiencing neglect

Physical child neglect is when a caregiver fails to provide a child with sufficient supervision, nourishment or medical care, or to meet a child's other basic needs when he or she is able to do so.

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Deliberate neglect as reported to police

Section 110 of the Children's Act (2005) requires that cases of deliberate child neglect be reported to a designated child protection organisation, the provincial Department of Social Development or the police. In the absence of statistics from the Child Protection Register, we must rely on crime data which is likely to dramatically under-estimate the prevalence of neglect.

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University of Cape Town
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