The role of supervisory neglect in childhood injury

The role of supervisory neglect in childhood injury

Debbie Scott, Daryl Higgins and Richard Franklin

CFCA Paper No. 8 — September 2012
The role of supervisory neglect in childhood injury

Key messages

There is no universally accepted, all encompassing definition of the concept of "neglect", and consideration of supervisory neglect suggests that there is no "one size fits all" definition.

Supervision can be a complex, resource-intensive activity when undertaken at its maximum effectiveness - understanding and evaluating what comprises "good enough parenting" remains subjective and is difficult to evaluate.

Identification of neglect should pay heed to parental competence and/or caregiver capability, cultural context, child personality and level of maturity, and environmental risk factors.

The need to forecast where future harm may arise from a lack of appropriate supervision is paramount.

Impoverished families living in "poor" neighbourhoods may be unable to provide adequate nutrition, medical care or education for their children not because of a lack of recognition of the child's needs or a want to do so, but because of a lack of access to resources.

Exposure to one type of harm (such as neglect) increases the risk of exposure to other forms of harm (such as physical or sexual abuse). In a child protection context, if children suffer a number of injuries this may serve as a warning that there are other issues of a potentially neglectful nature.

Children are vulnerable to different types of injury depending on their stage of growth and development. Children will also need varying degrees of supervision depending on their exposure to a range of risk and protective factors. This paper explores the theoretical understandings of supervisory neglect and how these understandings might assist in delivering practical responses using a public health approach to child protection.

Read our Deputy Director's response to the media coverage of this paper.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Debbie Scott is a Research Fellow and Daryl Higgins is Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Richard Franklin is an Associate Professor, School of Public Health, James Cook University.

The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Jo Clark-Jones, Principle Research Officer, Strategic Policy and Performance Branch of the Queensland Department of Community Services and Reyelle McKeever of the Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian.

The feature image is by 55Laney69, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 8
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2012.
17 pp.

Publication meta

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