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Child Neglect Statistics

Child Neglect Statistics

Child neglect statistics reflect that low income increases the likelihood of maltreatment and neglect. Poor people typically spend their energies trying to cope with little available funds, and often, inadequate or sub-standard living accommodations. They tend to cluster in poor neighbourhoods with high need and very limited resources.

What resources do I mean? Extended families, neighbours, friends, religious organizations, clubs, employment colleagues, social services or other significant persons. Without these resources, without these healthy support systems in place, the family is at risk for chronic neglect.

  • 47% of caregivers of children with substantiated neglect suffered from substance abuse (Health Canada, 2001 (1)).
  • Neglect and emotional maltreatment were more likely to be associated with families who relied on social assistance or some other form of benefit (Health Canada, 2001(2)). A Personal Note:  I grew up on social assistance. The above statistic was definitely the case in our home. I’ve written a book about my experiences. Female lone parents and their children are among the most economically disadvantaged. Over 60% live below–and in many cases, far below–the Statistics Canada designation for low income (Mayson, 1998 (3)).
  • Mothers are found to be the neglectful parent in 72% of neglect cases (DHHS, Children’s Bureau, 1998(4)). Note:  The above 72% rate is not surprising when one considers the child neglect statistics listed immediately before it, as well as the one immediately following:
  • According to Statistics Canada’s 1996 data, women headed the vast majority–well over 80%–of the 1.1 million lone-parent families in Canada (Vanier Institute of the Family, 2000(5)).
  • Child neglect tends to be global–it is rarely a single form of neglect, but rather encompasses neglect of many needs (Polansky et al., 1992, p. 21(6)).
  • Of all maltreating families, neglecting families resist change most; after treatment only 40% of neglecting families maintained their new behaviours (Mosher, 1994(7)).
  • One of the most obvious features of neglectful families is that everyone is neglected (Crittenden, 1992(8)).



(1) Health Canada. (2001). The Canadian incidence study of abuse and neglect. Ottawa: Health Canada.

(2) Health Canada. (2001). The Canadian incidence study of abuse and neglect. Ottawa: Health Canada.

(3) Mayson, M. (1998). Welfare reform & single mothers. Retrieved January 7, 2003 from

(4) Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. (1998). Child maltreatment 1996: Reports from the states to the national child abuse and neglect data system. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

(5) Vanier Institute of the Family. (2000). Profiling Canada’s families II. Retrieved January 7, 2003 from

(6) Polansky, N., Gaudin, J. & Kilpatrick, A. (1992). Family radicals. Children and Youth Services Review, 14, 19-26.

(7) Mosher, C. (1994). Neglect of children: A comprehensive review. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Social Services (unpublished).

(8) Crittenden, P. (1992). Child neglect Chicago: National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

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