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The High Cost Of Child Neglect: What Are The Signs Safe Adults Can Spot?

Tulare County in California has agreed to pay $32 million to a family after an infant boy suffered permanent brain damage.

When the baby was 10 months old, he was found unresponsive and hospitalized. He was placed on life support. After doctors took him off of life support, he survived, but with brain damage.

The boy's grandmother had been reporting to Child Welfare Services that her grandson was being abused, months before he was hospitalized. The young boy was severely malnourished and this resulted to significant brain damage.

The grandmother said she started to notice the neglect when he was just a couple months old. She filed complaints to Tulare County Child Welfare Services, but was ignored. It is alleged that the county tried to cover up the lack of response by forging documents and trying to intimidate the grandmother into dropping her case.

In addition to the financial settlement, the county has also agreed to implement policies and software that will help the agency to better track and follow-up on prior complaints of alleged child abuse. The grandmother said they are creating a law in her grandson's name, which, once written, she hopes will help prevent similar cases in the future. Nic Garcia "Tulare County settles $32 million child negligence case" https://abc30.com/tulare-county-child-welfare-services-brain-damage-abuse-allegations/12753074/ (Feb. 01, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

The grandmother of the child in the source article did the right thing by reporting her suspicions of child abuse. Unfortunately, the authorities who were supposed to intervene, allegedly failed to do so.

Safe adults should know the signs of child neglect and should report them to law enforcement or to the local child protection agency.

What are some signs of child neglect?

  • The parent or caregiver ignores the child's physical, emotional, medical/dental, psychological, or educational needs.
  • The child is born addicted to drugs.
  • Family lives in poverty or homelessness and cannot or will not care for the child.
  • The parent or caregiver does not bond with the child and lacks parenting skills.
  • The parent suffers from mental illness or was abused or neglected as a child.
  • The child is living in inadequate housing without sufficient food, water, and heat and is improperly dressed for the weather.
  • Child is dirty, in poor physical health, dental disease, and always hungry.
  • The child has excessive absences at school.
  • The child displays low self-esteem, depression, a need for constant affection and attention or is withdrawn and unable to form bonds.
  • The child is left alone for extended periods of time or is caring for younger siblings.
  • Child is forced from the home or abandoned.
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