Researchers have found that children who experience neglect are seven times more likely than other abuse victims to have a teen pregnancy.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that neglect was one of the most severe types of maltreatment when compared to emotional, sexual and physical abuse.
The researchers found neglected children have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, and were at a three- to five-fold increased risk of failing school, anxiety, depression, psychosis and cannabis abuse problems.
“Although most children in our study experienced multiple types of maltreatment, child neglect and emotional abuse were specifically linked to the worst outcomes,” said study author Jake Najman from the University of Queensland in Australia.
“Neglected children, in particular, experienced higher rates of promiscuity, cannabis abuse and visual hallucinations as a result of their maltreatment,” Najman added.
For the findings, the researchers looked at data from 8,000 women and children beginning in pregnancy and continuing into early adulthood.
The study anonymously linked the data with state government reports of child abuse and neglect to examine how child maltreatment was associated with a broad range of outcomes over two decades, including cognitive, educational, psychological, sexual and physical health, and addiction.
Child neglect was defined in the study as not providing the child with necessary physical requirements (food, clothing or a safe place to sleep) and emotional requirements (comfort and emotional support) a child should receive.
The study found children who experienced emotional abuse were also worse off than sexually or physically abused children.
Data showed that sexual and physical abuse led to fewer negative outcomes overall.
“These problems are extremely serious and difficult to treat in adulthood. We need to do all that we can to prevent them from happening in the first place,” Najman said.
“Emotionally abused kids were particularly prone to experiencing harassment, psychosis and injecting drugs,” he noted.