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The Science of neglect: The persistent absence of responsive care disrupts the developing brain

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child – 2012

Examines the negative consequences of neglect on young children’s brain development. Presents an overview of the problem and outlines the four types of child neglect: occasional inattention, chronic under-stimulation, severe neglect in a family context, and severe neglect in an institutional setting. Notes that substance abuse is a risk factor for neglect. Explains how severe neglect can harm the structure and functioning of the developing brain, and how chronic neglect can alter the stress response system. Severely deprived children can have a wide range of physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. Notes that children who have suffered from neglect can recover with the help of appropriate interventions. Addresses common misconceptions about neglect, noting that it often receives less public attention than other forms of abuse. Policy recommendations include increased focus on neglect in child welfare interventions, early identification and prevention for at-risk families, and measurement of the economic benefits of effective prevention and early intervention strategies.