How does neglect during infancy affect cognitive development in young children?

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Child maltreatment takes on many forms and child neglect is the most common. Studies have found that child neglect can be more detrimental to development than physical abuse (Colvert, E., Rutter, M., Kreppner, J., Beckett, C., Castle, J., Groothues, C. & Sonuga-Barke, 2008). Despite this fact, neglect is the least commonly reported form of maltreatment, as it does not leave bruises and marks like physical abuse (DiPanfilis, D., 2006). Neglect during infancy has been found to affect all aspects of development: physical, cognitive, and psychosocial (Hawley, T., Gunner, M., 2000). This paper will examine the effects neglect has on specific areas of cognitive functioning. According to Jean Piaget we all go through stages of cognitive …show more content…
For example, young, impoverished mothers are most likely to neglect their children. Other risk factors include environmental influences, like living in poverty or lack of social support, family influences, like lack of communication or family stress and influences from the child, such as, age or special needs (DiPanfilis, D., 2006).
Does neglect in infancy lead to deficits in cognitive functioning? Several studies indicate that maltreatment during infancy does affect cognitive development. Research on neglect, specifically, during infancy is sparse but the few studies conducted have found deficits in cognitive development as a result of neglect. What research there is, however, stands on shaky ground because small sample sizes are generally used and it is difficult to control for various factors like duration and severity of neglect (Chappie, C.L., & Vaske, J., 2010). One study conducted at the beginning of the 1990’s addressed some of these issues. It is known as the English and Romanian Adoptee Study and it aimed to answer questions specifically about length and timing of neglect during the first three and half years of life (Colvert, E., et al., 2008). The study followed and compared one hundred and thirty one Romanian adoptees with adoptees from the United Kingdom. The children were tested specifically on their cognitive development at four, six, and eleven years old. They were also

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