Child Neglect And Malnutrition

Two men and a woman were arrested for allegedly neglecting two-year-old twin boys in Jackson County, West Virginia.

According to the county sheriff, the condition of the twins came to light after one of the twins was found unresponsive. The child was first taken to a local hospital and then transported to a hospital in Charleston. He was then flown to a third hospital. According to the sheriff, "The two-year-old boy was in complete renal failure and was in a very, very dire situation." The sheriff said medical staff investigated and found the boy in a state of "extreme" malnutrition and dehydration.

When deputies began their own investigation, they found that "the twins had allegedly been locked in a room in an apartment for 'as many as six weeks at a time.'"

Their parents have been accused of self-medicating the twins for long periods of time in order to get them to sleep. The mother allegedly lived in the basement of the apartment of the building with her boyfriend while the father lived upstairs. The three adults allegedly used a padlock-type lock to keep the twins in their bedroom for days at a time with nothing but a diaper on. During these times, the sheriff also said it appeared that the twins had only been fed pieces of ground beef and cereal under the door.

The neglect caused one of the twins to lose consciousness and to be "on death's door." The boy is now in stable condition, and has been removed from the home.

The boy's twin and a female child have also been removed from the home. All three adults were arraigned on charges related to the incident. Jessica Patterson "3 arrested for allegedly feeding twins only ground beef, cereal under locked door" (May 09, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

According to the CDC, “Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, and having feelings validated and appropriately responded to.”

According to a recent report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Approximately one in four children experience child abuse or neglect in their lifetime.” Of the total number of cases, around 18 percent are physically abused, 78 percent are neglected, and about nine percent are sexually abused.”

The victims in the source article were locked up in their room for days at a time, being given little nutrition. Malnutrition is a sign of neglect.

What are other signs of child neglect?

  • The parent or caregiver ignores the child's physical, emotional, medical/dental, psychological, or educational needs
  • The child is born addicted to drugs
  • Family lives in poverty or homelessness and cannot or will not care for the child
  • The parent or caregiver does not bond with the child and lacks parenting skills
  • The parent suffers from mental illness or was abused or neglected as a child
  • The child is living in inadequate housing without sufficient food, water, and heat and is improperly dressed for the weather
  • Child is dirty, in poor physical health, dental disease, and always hungry
  • The child has excessive absences at school
  • The child displays low self-esteem, depression, a need for constant affection and attention or is withdrawn and unable to form bonds
  • The child is left alone for extended periods of time or is caring for younger siblings
  • Child is forced from the home or abandoned
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