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Saturday, July 6, 2024

What is Neglect?

Now, how can we define neglect? Put simply, neglect is the failure to care properly for someone or something. But what else is there to it?

Usually, we can consider an action or inaction as neglectful when there is some sort of duty or responsibility to care for the person or object, whether you signed up for it or it was assigned to you. This can get complex because there may be many factors involved to consider.

When you “sign up” to care for someone or something, you are basically telling everyone else that you will be taking care so they/others don’t have to. Any decadence or destruction suffered is then on you. You were neglectful while you were being counted on not to be and something was damaged or lost as a result.

When caring for someone or something is “assigned” to you, it could mean a number of things. You were at that time and place where someone or something needed care that you could provide for. That is a social and humane responsibility assigned to you. Another could be that you are a relative of someone or the owner or something and therefore you should be caring before others. That’s a civil responsibility assigned to you.

Let’s emphasize the ability to provide care, however. In the cases in which you are indeed unable to provide care, you are absolved of the responsibility - as that would be both unreasonable and unrealistic. But in many instances, that would then require you to admit that you cannot take care and/or call (or at least allow) for someone else to.

Neglect isn’t always a serious matter that leads to terrible consequences. But the times it is, it can be as bad, if not worse than abuse. E.g. Leaving a baby, a creature incapable of doing anything for themselves, alone for days. Letting a person in need of urgent medical treatment, in lethal danger, wait for too long. Disregarding an elder, whose motor and cognitive functions have severely declined, fend for themselves because you can’t be bothered to care.

Then, there are those actions and inactions that, while “normal” enough to not be reprimanded by most, are still neglectful. E.g. seeing somebody being mistreated and doing nothing about it because “it’s not any of your business” and it would be an inconvenience to you.

We are all neglectful to some extent because we are not superhumans. But we must watch out for extremes that cannot be justified.