Common Behaviors of Neglected Children

Children exhibiting any of the following symptoms may be victims of child neglect. In some cases, children may have symptoms or conditions that are not neglect related. Accurate assessment and investigation are required to determine when children are being neglected. Reporting concerns of child neglect to appropriate agencies will initiate investigation by the relevant professionals to make such determinations.


  • children are begging for or stealing food
  • children engaging in self destructive behaviors and caregiver fails to  intervene
  • frequent truancy
  • cowering or fearful behaviors
  • underdeveloped language skills relative to the age of the child
  • children seem overly detached or unresponsive to caregivers
  • children assuming parental roles and responsibilities (when the caregiver is present)

Child protection workers receive specialized training to investigate and make determinations of child maltreatment. If you observe children that you suspect are or have been neglected or abused, make a report to the appropriate humans services department or law enforcement.