Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Examining the relationship between child neglect and poverty

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The chicken and the egg conundrum neatly reflects the way in which the debate over the relationship between child neglect and poverty/social deprivation has developed over the last few decades. Some would argue that child neglect is the manifestation of a neglecting society that permits child poverty to exist, that is poverty leads to child neglect. Others contend that it is the way that neglecting parents think, behave and interact with other people that ultimately leads them to live a life of social deprivation and to neglect their children, that is parental characteristics lead to poverty and child neglect. However, these seemingly opposing perspectives can be resolved if we consider that this relationship, like the ultimate resolution to the chicken and egg conundrum, is circular and interdependent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004



  • Child neglect
  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Poverty

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