Child neglect, through physical, mental, and emotional deprivation, is a worldwide phenomenon. However, until comparatively recently, scientific data and academic research on it within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) had been extremely limited due to the conservative nature of the society in this country. A systemic review was conducted, using several databases, including those of Cross Search, Social Sciences Citation Index, two Saudi universities, and manual searches of key journals of literature on child neglect in KSA published between 1990 and 2016. The results of this review are presented, which summarize the present state of knowledge of child neglect in Saudi Arabia and what progress has been made toward a full understanding of the extent and nature of the problem. The statistical evidence currently available on the incidence and prevalence of neglect is displayed together with qualitative information on cases of neglect that have been documented by doctors, social workers, and other professionals working in the field. The present state of provision of government programs to assist and support victims of child neglect in Saudi Arabia is considered and contrasted with the services available in other, predominantly Western nations. It is noted that, in addition to a still-inadequate level of investment in this area, present programs in the Kingdom are not well-suited to preventing neglect in the first place. Recommendations are made as to what steps could be taken in the future to improve and expand Saudi provision of care to address this problem.
Aref Alsehaimi and Abdullah Alanazi