Nationally and in Florida, neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment. In Florida, between 40 and 50 percent of the verified reports every year reflect (VIDEO CLIP). Many of these reports involve children who are left unsupervised. In general, children younger than 10 to 12 years of age should not be expected to care for themselves or younger siblings for long periods.
Last year, 23 percent of the reports made by Broward County Public Schools employees involved suspected neglect. This percentage also included reports of children in need of supervision and care with no one available to provide it. School Board employees make significantly fewer reports of neglect because we provide intervention prior to reporting, unless the suspected neglect is of a life-threatening nature.
The correct response to life-threatening neglect is to call 911. Then report to the Florida abuse hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
Some examples of life-threatening neglect that we have encountered include:
However, most suspected neglect is not of a life-threatening nature. So, before we conclude that the parent or caregiver is willfully failing to provide the necessities needed by the child, we need to determine whether the caregiver has the financial means to do so. The first intervention would be a gentle inquiry made to the parent by a teacher. This would be followed by possible referral to student support personnel: guidance counselor, school social worker, family counselor.
Broward County Public Schools does an excellent job of assisting families to get their basic needs met. Therefore, we make fewer reports of suspected neglect to the hotline. Helping families in this way creates a positive relationship between the school and home which will support the academic achievement of the child.
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