Boys, who are physically neglected by their parents during childhood, face a heightened risk of turning into violent adolescents, according to a Penn State study.
The researchers said that examples of physical neglect include failing to take a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing or not feeding a child.
"One of the problems with studying neglect is that it is an act of omission, rather than one of commission. In other words, it is characterized as the absence of an act, rather than an actual act of mistreatment," said William McGuigan, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Shenango, in a press release. "However, now we have better measures and larger databases to document neglect."
McGuigan said that physical neglect during childhood is one of the strongest predictors of violent behaviour among adolescents. It was a significant contributor than physical abuse, or even physical abuse and neglect combined.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data taken from a survey of 85 participants, who are residents of a Pennsylvania detention center for felonious males. In the survey, 25 of the participants or 29.4 percent reported experiencing at least one incidence of childhood neglect. Acts of violence included fighting with students or parents, hitting teachers and using a weapon to scare, rob or injure another person.
McGuigan said that understanding the impact of physical neglect among adolescent males can help educate caregivers and provide better care for at-risk youths.