skip to Main Content


When we talk about child abuse, many of us picture physical violence. However, neglect is far more common and causes a wider range of trauma. Unfortunately, it’s almost certain that a child in your local school is lacking nutrition, warm clothing, hygiene, medical care, or affection. Neglect receives less attention because the effects are less visible. To better understand these hidden consequences, we can turn to the science of toxic stress.

Prolonged stress is toxic to developing brains. The body reacts to stress by increasing our heart rates, raising blood pressure, and releasing stress hormones. When kids have reliable relationships, they learn to bring these back down to healthy levels (Center on the Developing Child).

Now consider a child like Lindsay whose parents struggled with opioid addiction. As the oldest child, she took on the role of parent. She worried constantly about her own needs and the health of her siblings. She rarely knew where their next meal would come from and hoarded any food she could find. Through it all, she loved her parents and lived in fear of her family being split up. She never learned to turn her stress off.

This constant stress adds to the problems already associated with malnutrition, untreated medical needs, and lost opportunities for learning and bonding. Combined, this often leads to poor physical and mental health, cognitive delays, and unhealthy relationships well into adulthood

Although neglect can be so destructive, we at Tennyson see the resilience of kids and families every day. With your support, our programs help parents parent and let kids be kids.

Back To Top