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What is Neglect?

Neglect is defined as the ongoing failure to meet a child or young person's basic needs and includes:

  • Physical neglect - where basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or a child is not properly supervised or kept safe.

  • Educational neglect – a lack of adequate stimulation, or a parent not making sure their child is given an education.

  • Emotional neglect – a lack of a loving, nurturing and caring environment, or even ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating children.

  • Medical neglect – a child not receiving appropriate health or dental care, or parents ignoring medical recommendations.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse. It is dangerous and can cause serious, long-term damage to children and young people; it can result in death. 

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

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.

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


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