In this post we are going to talk about negligence. It is a concept that is used repeatedly, but about which little is speculated to get to the bottom of it. Therefore, in the following paragraphs we hope to show it in all its facets, so that our readers understand that negligence has a lot of edges.

What is negligence?

In general, negligence is carelessness or carelessness; people fail to measure the possible consequences of their actions. Negligent behaviors carry dangers for the same subject and others.

Negligence is subject to criminal or civil sanction according to the characteristics of the negligent conduct. The person is guilty as long as he does not act properly to prevent harm to third parties. The notion is closely related to recklessness and lack of diligence.

There are many negligent behaviors and actions. The best known and most important due to their seriousness are negligence around the care of children and the elderly, negligence when driving vehicles, environmental negligence and negligence in work activities.

Key aspects of negligence

Negligence implies indifference for the action taken or for its neglect. High responsibilities require greater care, therefore the seriousness or dimension of the negligence can be seen by the consequences it causes.

For example, there is the case of piloting a commercial airplane. This activity obliges the pilot, as well as the control tower personnel and the mechanics, the airline itself… to carry out a series of actions to prevent an accident. In other words, this type of work requires more diligence than transporting fruit on a lonely road.

Therefore, it happens that we already come across the antonym of negligence: diligence. And it is that negligence is precisely not doing, not being diligent . In this sense, we also see another question to consider: there are activities that inevitably concern more diligence than others.

The differences between recklessness and negligence

While recklessness is related to negligence, they are not the same . A reckless subject does not think about the prevention of danger or does not comply with the norms of prudence. The it involves recklessness perform an action that teaches prudence not perform . Although the concepts are parallel and in both there is a lack of diligence, negligence does not do what is pertinent, which, out of prudence, should be done.

  • A reckless person does something that is known to be negative , or to have undue consequences. Such is the case of the drunk driver. Drunk driving is reckless.
  • Instead, one speaks of negligence when someone does not pay attention to a traffic rule. It can be said that negligence is rather careless , not being cautious enough.

Another case: the bus driver is negligent who, although he knows that the vehicle has an indeterminate fault, does not take precautions when driving it. For their part, it is reckless who drives a car in perfect condition above the permitted speed.

In cases such as reckless driving of vehicles or lighting bonfires in environmentally protected spaces, the execution of the same act of negligence is subject to penalty . For example, talking on the phone and driving at the same time is, in many countries, a serious offense.

Negligence from a legal perspective

Negligence is the legal basis for holding an individual responsible for violating the rules , giving rise to compensation to third parties for the damages caused.

The concept of so-called legal negligence then arises includes four factors that must be proven by the victim or his representative, namely:

  1. The person should have been careful in an activity , but did not take this precaution. Likewise, that he has not done everything that corresponds to him to fulfill so that something turns out well.
  2. Breach of the duty to be careful . It must be evident that this breach has occurred in order to plead and convict negligent acts.
  3. Causality. It must be shown that the negligence was the cause of something. Negligent conduct is only punished if it triggers damage. This is something to keep in mind.
  4. Damages produced . Damages due to negligence are assessed. Based on these damages, the corresponding criminal sanction is established.

This is how the laws make clear the margin corresponding to negligence. Therefore, it must be taken into account that being negligent carries negative consequences in various areas. 

Family neglect against children

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines neglect in the case of children as a type of abuse, in the same order as physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

Thus, understood as child abuse , it is the inability of the adult (s)-caregiver (s) to provide the child with the essential environment that guarantees education, food, health, hygiene, clothing, room, responsible care and adequate cognitive-emotional development.

The negligence in the family environment poses a diffuse territory that is more difficult to determine. And this is because negligence in children produces psychological damages that are not easy to prove to apply the respective laws.

Family neglect is a form of abuse

As a form of abuse, family neglect has psychological consequences that almost always go hand in hand with other manifestations of abuse.

Naturalized abuse becomes an obstacle to intervene and change situations of this type. In addition, in the case of child abuse , it often happens that their guardians or parents and other family members have standardized parenting models based on forms of action, which include: emotional blackmail, threats, physical punishment, neglect of duties , etc.

Neglect is also produced by drug addiction, alcoholism, mental disorders , single parenthood, ignorance, lack of education and in areas of extreme poverty . Knowingly or not, negligence that causes damage to third parties or could potentially produce them, is a serious misconduct or criminal offense.

Keep in mind that the law protects the family . Why? Well, because the family is considered the nucleus of society. Therefore, it is necessary to have a healthy family, without negligent traces, to correspond to a healthy society.

Other Considerations About Family Neglect

In a family context, the dynamics of abuse and neglect often have more factors than could be seen with the naked eye: family members, such as uncles, cousins ​​or grandparents, allow the situation of abuse to continue .

Negligent acts against children by their custodians cause them profound damage such as abuse, verbal violence and  physical violence . In this sense, the emotional and behavioral structures of adaptation to the environment are affected, especially if the humiliations are continuous and in stages of the child’s development. The psychological traces that neglect leaves in its victims are not usually seen clearly, but they could persist into adult life, manifesting themselves in similar behaviors against their own descendants.

Can family negligence be judged?

It is a subject on which there is a lot of speculation. It is said that each family has the right to raise their descendants with particular criteria. In other words, even the degree of attention that parents want to give their children can be considered as a personal matter.

However, the laws protect minors. Likewise, it is taken into account that children are citizens who have rights . Therefore, this right is guaranteed by the State. In that case, their parents must protect them and guarantee their rights. When this does not happen, it is considered that the State can intervene.

It is still a question that deserves study. In addition, there are much more closed societies where the family interior is considered extremely private and cannot be intervened.

How to recognize family negligence cases?

More specifically, negligence occurs in somewhat diverse situations . In this sense, it is necessary to mention the most recurrent circumstances in this regard:

  • The minor is not provided with food adjusted to his age . Even children who are overweight or underweight according to age, added to symptoms of dehydration, paleness, hide pictures of neglect.
  • Their rights to be properly dressed and footwear , according to their age, and in hygienic conditions are neglected .
  • The health care is poor or nonexistent . Sanitary negligence implies inattention to the vaccination program and to any illness or disease.
  • The education is a right , so any failure to follow the leads relative neglect.
  • The abandonment or lack of supervision of children for periods longer than fifteen minutes , depending on the context, is understood as negligent behavior. For example, leaving one or more children or babies locked in a car already constitutes negligence even if they are only left alone for a minute.
  • Domestic accidents involving children are signs of negligence.
  • Not attending to the entertainment needs of the little ones.

Family neglect has its origin in a complex mix of factors . In a social, individual, family and cultural context, negligence appears in a practically invisible way for many sectors of society.

Factors that promote family neglect

Another factor that favors neglect is the proliferation of adolescent parents, on the one hand; and that of parents with several children under the age of five, on the other. 

As mentioned, negligence is associated with the social territory of those who have fewer or few economic possibilities and training opportunities . Certainly, material poverty is one of the most important components in creating the breeding ground for neglect.

However, this can also be observed in families with economic resources , because the problem has a cultural and values-based component . That is to say: “The habit does not make the monk.” A popular saying that can have a lot of support and application!

Family neglect increases in lower social strata

But, without a doubt, neglect of minors soars exponentially among those living in poverty. In any case, it should not be forgotten that physical and emotional abuse and neglect , although they are linked to poverty, the most depressed social and economic status, all manifestations of abuse (including sexual abuse), are reproduced in all social and economic levels.

One final note: neglect contains chapters as diverse and culturally nuanced as smoking before, during, and after pregnancy. In smoking parents, negligent behavior seems imperceptible, but it occurs openly: mother or father or both do not stop smoking in front of their children inside their home and in public places.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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