Developmental Issues and Outcomes

CITATION: Hildyard, K. L., & Wolfe, D. A. (2002). Child neglect: developmental issues and
outcomes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26, 679-695.
Supports findings indicating that the consequences of neglect are as serious, if not more so,
as those associated with physical abuse, sexual abuse, and witnessing family violence
 The effects of child neglect are cumulative
 Developmental impact on infants and preschoolers
 Children tend to be less enthusiastic, more frustrated and angrier in problemsolving tasks
 Demonstrate poor impulse control and less flexibility and creativity in problemsolving
 Poor performance on standardized tests of intellectual functioning and low
academic achievement
 Problems in expressive and receptive language
 Significantly different in moral development – may have difficulties with emotion
regulation in compliance situations
 Attachment problems
 Negative mental representations of self and others (perceive themselves and
others as hurt, sad, or anxious)
 Tend to be socially withdrawn engaging in few social interactions with other
children (socially isolated)
 Problems in coping, personality development and emotion regulation
 Tendency toward strong feelings of hopelessness
 May show symptoms of disassociation
 Developmental impact on school-aged children and younger adolescents
 Continuing cognitive developmental problems including difficulty coping with
the demands of school, lower scores on tests of achievement, lack of involvement in
learning and demonstrate academic deficits more severe than those of abused children
 Continued negative mental representations of themselves and others including the
larger social world
 Social difficulties
 Tend to be socially withdrawn and predominantly avoidant in their peer
interactions – tend to be unpopular with their peers having few reciprocated
 Isolated and withdrawn exhibiting emotional problems
 Developmental impact on older adolescents and adults
 Lower scores on tests of intelligence and reading ability
 Increased likelihood of running away from home
 Elevated risk of delinquency, adult criminal behavior, and violent criminal
 Increased likelihood of personality disorders, symptoms of anxiety and
depression, and disassociation in adulthood
*** Comprehensive review of the literature providing insight into the effect of neglect on child