Child Neglect
Child abuse includes acts of omission as well as commission. Parents must provide a child with food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, and reasonable emotional support within the limits of their ability. If a child appears to lack any of these necessities, the physician should be involved in finding out why. If the family is in crisis and lacks the resources to provide for the children, local social service agencies should be contacted to assist. A church food bank may be able to provide food until the family is eligible for food stamps, or a shelter for the homeless may be able to take them in until housing becomes available. Most public hospitals have social workers on staff who can help with such problems.
If the parents have the resources to care for a child properly but choose not to, they are neglecting that child. This includes parents who do not have adequate resources but refuse necessary social services for personal reasons. Parents who are disabled or emotionally disturbed may be incapable of caring for a child properly. In such situations, a report should be made to the child protection agency. If the parents have good intentions but difficulty coping, then protective services may be able to help them find the necessary community support. If the parents are not willing or able to meet the needs of the child, the protection agency may have to remove the child from the home.