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Child Neglect Essay, Research Paper
The outcome of a ravaging issue called child neglect is a disturbed eleven year old girl, with the mind of a thirty year old woman, and an insecure future. It is a worldwide curse that will plague our children forever if it persists to take over our family values. ?Ellen Foster,? by Kaye Gibbons, is an emotionally moving novel of child neglect in the South. Ellen tells her story of a dreadful life, leading to another of self-acceptance and solace. She?s born into a life of child neglect from her father. She experiences all types of child neglect, including abandonment, supervisional, physical, emotional, medical and educational. As we have observed through Ellen?s story, child neglect robs a child?s basic necessities needed for development of physical, intellectual and emotional growth, while emotionally torturing and destroying their ability to love and to be loved.
Child neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment in the United States. Researchers have indicated that child neglect is strongly correlated with poverty, single-parent caretakers, unemployment and multifaceted family problems (Cowen). Child neglect is a social problem stemming from child abuse. Abandonment is a minute part of child neglect that occurs when parents leave their child without arranging for appropriate substitute supervision (Cowen). Supervisional neglect is when children are left for hours or days at a time. In physical neglect, which is the majority of child neglect cases, eating, sleeping, bathing and household cleaning are little to none. Emotional neglect includes spousal abuse in the child?s presence, allowing a child to abuse drugs or alcohol and constantly belittling and withholding affection (National Exchange). Medical neglect is an unwilling, unable or unmotivated parent who doesn?t seek medical attention for their children (Cowen). A child, who should be in school and is not, classifies as educational neglect.
According to the Webster?s dictionary, neglect is defined as: ? to ignore or disregard, to fail to care for or attend to sufficiently or properly, to fail to carry out through carelessness or by intention, leave undone.? This describes Ellen?s father accurately. He ignored, disregarded, failed to care for, and was careless about Ellen?s well being. Ellen?s father, along with her grandmother and her aunts, were able to inflict, upon Ellen, all of the major possibilities of child neglect.
Ellen?s father abandoned her on many occasions, such as when Ellen?s mother died. They had a limousine take them to and from the funeral. When the limousine dropped them off at the house, Ellen?s father left. This would be a time when a child?s emotions would be running wild and could use the support of their parents the most.
When the smiling man let me and my daddy off in the yard I thanked him for the ride and went on inside. My daddy came in the house, got his keys, and left in the truck. He stayed gone until the next night and I can not report all he did. (Gibbons, 23)
This will emotionally torture Ellen for life. She will feel that her father does not love her or care for her enough to be supportive in a time of tragedy. However, she is privileged to be as mature as she is, because she seemed to get through the next couple of days quite successfully.
Ellen didn?t have any supervision in her life. She seemed to be doing all of the supervising over her drunken father. She handled the money, grocery shopping, cooking and keeping her mother safe, as well as many other responsibilities that an eleven-year-old shouldn?t be dealing with.
Physical is an aspect of neglect that Ellen under goes frequently. She doesn?t have any good clothes to wear to her mother?s funeral, because her father does not provide them for her. She ends up having to use one of her cousin?s dresses.
She gave me this outfit like she bought it for me but I saw her girl Dora get her school picture taken in it last week. I do not have much choice but to wear it. In a while I?ll be grown out of my underwear. (Gibbons, 14)
It?s a pity when parents don?t have the means to provide for their children, but it?s a sin when they do have it and don?t provide for them.
Most of Ellen?s emotional abuse and neglect comes from her grandmother (her mama?s mama). She was forced to move in with her grandmother when she had no where else to go. Ellen?s grandmother was unusually cruel to Ellen and blamed Ellen for her mother?s death. Her grandmother believed that Ellen could have stopped her father from ?killing? her mother. She thought that Ellen was just as bad as her father was. So, in her grandmother?s eyes, Ellen had to suffer. When Ellen moved in with her grandmother she was to stay in her mothers old room. Not for Ellen to enjoy, but for her to sit and stir about her mothers death, and that’s exactly what Ellen ended up doing in that room.
My room was my mama?s room she had when she was little. It had a canopy bed and a fireplace for show. My mama?s mama said she gave me that bedroom because I deserved it. It took me a while to realize that the room was not a prize or a present for being sweet. I started to think she knew what all I would see dancing around in hat fireplace and how I would need the lights on all night. (Gibbons, 62)
Ellen will most likely never forget her experience at her grandmothers house, and how every chance she got, her grandmother would make her feel unworthy.
Ellen never received any medical attention throughout the story. I figure that her father wouldn?t be willing to put the money up for something like that anyhow.
As for educational neglect, Ellen went to school all of the time, but only because she was smart enough to know that was going to be her only way out to a better life. Ellen is a remarkable young lady to have gone through a whole life of neglect and still be so gifted, mature, and light-hearted.
A child?s basic needs for development of physical, intellectual and emotional capacities include shelter, food, clothing, education, supervision, and medical care (National Exchange). When these needs are not met a child will have difficulty in social life. This is why physicians, nurses, day care personnel, relatives, neighbors, and teachers are the most likely to suspect and report neglected children. Neglect is 54% of all substantiated cases of child abuse (National Exchange). It is most common amongst parents who received the same kind of maltreatment when they were children, and parents who don?t have the education and skills to raise a child. Though, the root of the whole problem seems to start with poverty and ignorance (Cowen). Poverty can be challenging for a parent to overcome and provide adequate care for their children. On the other hand, there are many agencies willing to help a willing parent.
Ellen is a remarkable young lady to have gone through a whole life of neglect and still be so gifted, mature and light-hearted. She is lucky to now be in a foster home. Most children do not have that luxury and will stay with their neglectful family until they are able to support themselves. A child is the most innocent being on earth. It is a pitiful fact that a large percentage of children are neglected. Therefore, we have children who have low self esteems, children who can not love or be loved and children who grow up to neglect their own children.
Arntz, Jane Boucher. ? Self-Esteem: The Need to Repair
the Damage.? Business Journal 30 Apr. 1999: 16
Berliner, Lucy. ? The Problem with Neglect.? Journal of
Interpersonal Violence Dec. 1994: 9
Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition. 2000 ColumbiaUniversity Press
Cowen, Perle Slavik. ? Child neglect: Injuries ofomission.? Pediatric Nursing Jul/Aug 1999: 25
?Funds will help Welfare Agencies Boost Response to ChildNeglect.? Mental Health Weekly 4 Aug. 1997: 7
Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. New York: Vintage Books,1990.
Helfer, Ray E., and Ruth S. Kempe. The Battered Child.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
?National Exchange Club Foundation: Preventing Child Abuse. . . Serving America.?28, Sept. 2000:
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