Children at risk of neglect: challenges faced by child protection practitioners in Guatemala City

Caroline M Coope, Sally Theobald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: The objectives were to (1) delineate the definition, common forms, and perceived risk factors contributing to child neglect in Guatemala from the perspective of different stakeholders and (2) identify the challenges faced by child protection practitioners in identifying children at risk of neglect within the context of Guatemala.

METHODS: A range of qualitative methods were used: semi-structured interviews (SSI) with key stakeholders involved in child neglect (n=9); semi-structured interviews with professionals working in the child protection services (n=14); focus group discussions (FGDs) with professionals, voluntary workers and children (n=60), and the group consensus method with key informants (KI, n=10). Data analysis was conducted using the framework approach.

RESULTS: Participants described child neglect as a complex social phenomenon combining parental omission of care and an indifferent or negative attitude towards the child compounded by governmental neglect. The main factors which were perceived as contributing to neglect were poverty, societal and cultural norms, and importantly, gender roles and relations. These contextual factors complicate the identification of neglect and raise a number of difficult dilemmas for child protection workers that are exacerbated by limited Guatemalan legislation on neglect and restricted alternative care options.

CONCLUSION: Stakeholder perspectives were found to be useful for providing contextual information and highlighting associated challenges related to assessing child neglect in Guatemala.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-36
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • Child Abuse
  • Child, Preschool
  • Focus Groups
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Work
  • Urban Population


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