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Working Toward a Conceptual Definition of Child Neglect

Published in JHHSA, Vol. 31 No. 3

The phenomenon of child neglect has been nebulous due to limited research on child neglect and the meshing of child neglect with child abuse. There are disagreements among neglect researchers about several important issues, such as whether to frame child neglect as a child’s unmet needs or as omissions in parental behavior. It has therefore been difficult to develop a standard conceptual definition of child neglect. In this article, a conceptual definition of child neglect is proposed. The definition’s stand on a few important issues is discussed. Finally, how the conceptual definition can guide the formulation of operational definitions for both research and practice is described.

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