Parental child neglect: prevalence, social and emotional problems associated with neglected children in selected schools of Mufulira district in Zambia.

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Nakamba, Ruth
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The University of Zambia
Child neglect is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment, and it has a devastating impact on the development of children. Child neglect is perpetuated by parents through failure to meet physical and psychological needs. Positive early life experiences promote physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. However, the development of most children is adversely affected because they are deprived of the vital support they need in order to thrive. In Zambia, there is no evidence indicating that parental child neglect has been studied in secondary schools. Evidence indicating the prevalence of child neglect is lacking in schools as well social and emotional problems linked to it. Therefore, this study sought to determine the prevalence of parental child neglect in the two selected schools of Mufulira District. Additionally, this study sought to identify social and emotional problems associated with child neglect. The research design was a cross-sectional survey and self-administered closed ended questionnaires were used to collect data. The sample consisted of two hundred pupils who were randomly selected from two secondary schools in Mufulira District. Their age ranged between twelve and eighteen years. Among the participants 44.5 percent were boys and 55.5 percent were girls. The prevalence of parental child neglect was established using the Multidimensional neglectful behavioural scale (MNBS). While information on social and emotional problems associated with neglected children was collected using Personal relationships profile (PRP). The instruments which measured social problems were: Social integration scale, Criminal tendencies scale and Antisocial personality scale. Emotional problems were measured by Borderline personality symptoms scale, Depressive scale and Post-traumatic stress symptoms scale. Data was analysed using the statistical tests which included: Chi-square test of independence, bivariate correlation, Analysis of variance and descriptive statistics. The statistical package for Social Science (SPSS) was used to analyse the data. The prevalence of overall parental child neglect was rated at twenty five percent. The prevalence of child neglect was also analysed according to the four categories of child neglect: physical, emotional, cognitive and supervision neglect. Physical neglect was rated as the highest and emotional neglect was the lowest. The findings indicated that all the three types of child neglect except physical neglect were associated with criminal tendencies, antisocial personality behaviour and diminished social integration. Additionally, the three types of parental child neglect were associated with depressive symptoms except emotional neglect. Similarly, physical and supervision neglect did not have a significant relationship with borderline personality symptoms while other forms of neglect did. Furthermore, all the four types of neglect did not have a significant relationship with post-traumatic stress symptoms. The mean differences between neglected and nurtured learners on all scales measuring social and emotional problems indicated lower rating for nurtured children. Lastly, the only significant difference between neglected and nurtured learners was based on social integration. In conclusion, parental child neglect is prevalent and it is associated with social and emotional problems. Keywords: Parental child neglect, prevalence, nurture, development
Child neglect and abuse--Zambia