Understanding Child Abandonment: Physical Desertion May or May Not Be a Factor

Child abandonment means much more than the physical desertion of a child. The behavioral changes it causes are harmful, and sometimes permanent. That is why an authority figure leaving during the developmental stages is considered tragic. To better understand the alienation caused by child abandonment, you have to understand the specifics of child abandonment syndrome. 

Child Abandonment

The definition of child abandonment has been remarkably static for decades. This is an amazing thing by law standards, and shows a uniformity by the public on the subject. Child abandonment means physically leaving your child without a legal guardian to care for them. The scenario doesn’t end there, since a parent that leaves their kid in the care of a guardian can also be accused of child abandonment. 

Those two situations are considered the starting point, at least when you talk about the physical abandonment of a child. A mother that is present but unable to meet the needs of their children may have to answer similar child abandonment claims. And a father that goes to jail but makes no effort at communication can also be considered abandonment. 

Both the physical and mental needs of a child need to be met in order to help with healthy growth. When one of these needs falls short of expectations, child abandonment syndrome comes into the picture. 

Child Abandonment Syndrome

Child abandonment syndrome happens over a period of time when the child is in an unhealthy environment. An unhealthy environment in this case would be one that falls well below his mental and physical needs. When fear of abandonment kicks in, anxiety, depression and trust issues are some of the side effects. All of the behavioral issues that come from abandonment syndrome come from a place of wanting attention. Without the ability to be heard, children retreat further into their symptoms. 


The law takes child abandonment seriously, especially when it has to do with custody. With mental health becoming a bigger concern in the modern era, the law no longer considers physical abandonment a sole trigger. This is important to mention since child abandonment and neglect are serious criminal offenses. 

But the law doesn’t wait in the bushes waiting to rip children from their homes. Child abandonment or abuse is something that is reported by one of the parents or a third party. This usually leads to a visit from Child Protective Services. In extenuating circumstances, a school may make the phone call to CPS. This is rare, and very limited in use due to the rights the parents hold. No one wants to see a child taken out of a home, and that is why CPS is considered a last resort. 

During a hearing, the use and findings of CPS can shed some irreversible light on the treatment of the child. The documentation provided is essential, and helpful in speeding up cases where a child’s future hangs in limbo. 

Wrap Up

Time can heal all wounds when people recognize the root of the problem. Kids need attention, but more importantly, they need to be heard. By understanding the ramifications of child abandonment, you’ll have a better grasp on its unintended result.