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n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The influence of child neglect on language development

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Abstract

This article aims to explore the influence of neglect on language development. Neglect of children does not only pose a social problem for governments and institutions that need to create facilities to care for children but also has an impact on the intellectual functioning of children. Language capabilities, in particular, play an important role in intellectual development, attention and readiness to learn, socio-emotional development, behavioural issues, and academic achievement. Research studies over the years have attempted to demonstrate a relationship between child neglect and developmental delay, including delays in language development. In this study, the influence of neglect on language development was investigated using a sample of children who were admitted during the period October 2001 to October 2002 to a Place of Safety in Pretoria, South Africa. Only children who were exposed to neglect were included in the sample ( = 38), and IQ testing was performed, using the Revised (SSAIS-R) as research instrument. Most respondents (57.9%) performed below average on the Full Scale, while 60.5% performed below average on the Verbal Scale. Subtest Comprehension of the Verbal Scale seems to be the least affected, while subtests Number Problems and Story Memory were the worst affected. These results may be linked to verbal neglect at home, where the parents or caregivers did not adequately communicate with the children when they were small. We argue that the results from this study provide evidence that neglected children have a verbal disadvantage because of lack of interaction and communication between parents or caregivers. Neglected children's language capability is therefore inadequately developed, and this impacts on intellectual development, attention and readiness to learn, socio-emotional development, behavioural issues, and academic achievement.

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/content/carsa/5/2/EJC24286
2004-01-01
2016-12-05
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