Issues in Defining and Measuring Supervisory Neglect and Conceptualizing Prevention

Barbara A. Morrongiello & Amanda Cox - Child Indicators Research


Supervisory neglect, like all forms of maltreatment, is a complex public health issue. There is no uniform definition of supervisory neglect and this creates challenges for measurement and identifying caregivers at risk. In this article definitional and measurement issues are discussed, as well as challenges in conceptualizing prevention. The benefits of a more comprehensive assessment approach that uses multiple and varied measures and focuses on judging supervisory capacity are elucidated. Moreover, contextualizing judgements about supervisory capacity within the broader realm of parenting competency (e.g., strengths in parenting) can elucidate the breadth and nature of interventions needed to assist the child and his/her family. We suggest that the prevention of supervisory neglect is likely to achieve the greatest success when it is placed within the broader context of child health promotion and a Public Health approach that emphasizes comprehensive, ecologically-sensitive, and systematic multi-level interventions is applied. The saying goes that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, but it may also ‘take a village to protect a child’.

This article is part of the special issue of the Child Indicators Research journal, focused on child neglect.