Definition: A "neglected child" is a child who is not liked by his peers, but is also not disliked. When asked to name their best friends, peers rarely if ever identify a neglected child as one. Neglected children are relatively unseen by their peers.
This term is used in sociometric status (or peer status) research, which attempts to understand a child's social standing based on peer responses to that child. "Neglected children" are one of the five categories of sociometric statuses that researchers commonly use.
Neglected children may have some characteristics that set them apart from their peers. For one, they may have more issues with social anxiety than other kids their age. They also tend to lack close emotional bonds to others, although it is unclear whether this occurs because of a lack of ability to form friendships or for some other reason. Neglected children are often described by peers and teachers as withdrawn. Some researchers, however, find that neglected children are no different than any other average child their age. They may simply be ignored by their peer group for no good reason.
This definition only focuses on "neglect" in terms of peer relations. Other forms of child neglect include material and emotional neglect from parents and caregivers.
Related terms: average child, controversial children, popular children, rejected child, sociometric status
Furman, Wyndol, McDunn, Christine, and Young, Brennan. The Role of Peer and Romantic Relationships in Adolescent Affective Development. In N. B. Allen & L. Sheeber (Eds.) Adolescent emotional development and the emergence of depressive disorders. 2008. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Wentzel, Kathryn R., & Asher, Steven R. The Academic Lives of Neglected, Rejected, Popular, and Controversial Children. Child Development. 1995. 66:754-763.