In South Africa and the rest of the world, the incidence of child neglect is escalating at an astounding rate. To add to the devastation of the increasing phenomenon is the challenge that professionals face daily in trying to combat child neglect. Child neglect is ever so often overlooked or dismissed. The reason for this dismissal may be due to other more prominent forms of child maltreatment, a lack of resources to be able to combat the problem or a lack of adequately trained social workers. One of the primary reasons why child neglect may go unattended throughout the world is due to the incoherence in defining and understanding child neglect as a phenomenon.
The ability to define a concept or concepts correctly provides professionals with the ability to combat the problem at hand. Thus, a lack of understanding of a concept or phenomenon such as child neglect hinders one from being able to combat this social ill. There is evidently a need for clarity on the concept of child neglect in legislation and at practice level.
To address the identified gap as discussed above, the researcher utilised applied research within a qualitative research approach to explore the understanding of social workers of the concept of child neglect.
The research methodology used during this research study included purposive sampling followed by snowball sampling to select participants with experience in the field of child neglect. The researcher used semi-structured email interviews for data collection to reach the specified sample of social workers in private practice with experience in child neglect for the past five or more years. Main themes that arose during this research study were, amongst others, that there is a definite need for more clarity on the specific nature of child neglect and the general confusion around service delivery concerning neglected children.
Clarity of the concept of child neglect together with South African literature and definitions for child neglect will enable social workers working with child neglect to be more equipped to deal with the phenomenon of child neglect, both legally and therapeutically.
Recommendations include that the Department of Social Development develop and assist social workers with training and tools to be able to deal with this phenomenon. Another key aspect that became apparent during this study was that there is a definite need for more social workers to be employed to be able to deal with child neglect in South Africa.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.