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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 and emotional harm or danger
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers)
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
  • provide suitable education

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs

Working Together 2023

Neglect happens when parents or carers are unable to meet a child's needs. Sometimes this is because they don't have the skills or support they need, and sometimes it's down to problems such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or poverty.  Sometimes it is obvious - where a child is left hungry, dirty or without proper clothing; sometimes it is more difficult to identify, but we know that a lack of proper care has a long-lasting effect on physical and mental wellbeing.

Housing and money worries can put a lot of stress on parents. This can stop them being able to provide the practical and emotional support that children need, which can lead to neglect. It may be that families can be helped with these issues and that in turn will enable them to provide the support that their children need.

You can find out more about different signs of neglect here.

Training available from OSCP

OSCP currently has a subgroup that focusses specifically on neglect, they have developed the Neglect Strategy which can be accessed here.

Remember - children have the right to be protected from neglect and bad treatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them. (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).  For children who are neglected, this may be their normal experience and they may not understand that their quality of life is not as good as it should be. Make sure that children don’t feel they have done something wrong or shocking if they confide in you.


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