“Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs” – Working Together 2013
Signs of neglect can include:
- Frequent absenteeism from school;
- Begs or steals money or food;
- Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses;
- Lacks appropriate clothing, e.g. for weather conditions, shoes are too small, ill-fitted clothes;
- Clothes are consistently dirty or ‘smelly’;
- Teeth are dirty, hair quality is poor and contains infestations;
- Hands are cold, red and swollen;
- Loss of weight or being constantly underweight;
- The parent or adult caregiver has failed to protect a child from physical harm or danger.
The damaging effects of severe neglect can lead to accidental injuries, poor health, disability, poor emotional and physical development, lack of self-esteem, mental health problems and even suicide.
Neglect can often become an issue when parents are dealing with complex problems, sometimes including domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues, social-economic issues or they may have been poorly looked after themselves. These problems can have a direct impact on parents’ ability to meet their child’s needs. Even when parents are struggling with other personal issues they have a responsibility to care for their child or seek help if they are unable to parent adequately.
For a more detailed information sheet, please download the Be Curious. Act against child neglect:Be Curious. Act against child neglect
Please do not contact the LSCB about individual children or situations. These enquiries or referrals should be made to the relevant MASH Team
View the NSPCCs factsheets on neglect
Ofsted’s report In the child’s time: professional responses to neglect