Emotional Neglect Law and Legal Definition

Emotional neglect is the failure to provide adequate nurturing and affection to a child or the refusal or delay in ensuring that a child receives needed treatment for emotional or behavioral problems. Emotional neglect may also involve exposure to chronic or extreme domestic violence.

Emotional neglect occurs when a parent purposefully or ignorantly overlooks the signs that a child needs comfort or attention and includes withholding love, rejecting a child, and ignoring a child’s emotional needs.

Emotional neglect is a serious problem and has long term effects. This form of abuse has been found to inhibit a child’s emotional and physical growth. There can be many causes for emotional neglect. However, emotional neglect of a child can be prevented by increasing parents’ understanding of their children’s developmental and emotional needs.

The following is an example of a case law defining the term:

The Department of Children and Families Policy Manual defines "emotional neglect" as "the denial of proper care and attention, or failure to respond, to a child's affective needs by the person responsible for the child's health, welfare or care; by the person given access to the child; or by the person entrusted with the child's care which has an adverse impact on the child or seriously interferes with a child's positive emotional development." [Misthopoulos v. Dunbar, 2007 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2300 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2007)].