Hunger and neglect
Children going hungry is one of the main signs of
child neglect. We're determined to be there, for as long as it
takes, to help.
- Text "HUNGRY" to 70099
- Buy a Very Hungry Caterpillar sponsored badge
- Click here for more
ways to help
The signs of hunger
Our project staff see neglect every day in children who, because
they go hungry, feel like there is something wrong with them, and
that they don't deserve to be looked after. A child hungry though
neglect is one that is deprived of meals every day or eats food
that is very unhealthy, meaning they miss out on essential vitamins
and minerals. They may be skinny and small for their age, with
clothes that hang off them; or they can be obese. Children hungry
through neglect are often pale and grey; they can suffer from
rickets, and have sunken eyes, poor skin and lank hair.
The devastating effects
Neglected children can be so desperate for food that they eat
things like dog biscuits just to feel full. For others, school
dinner can be the only square meal that they get. Not surprisingly,
when these children do eat, they bolt their food or hoard it. The
effects of this hunger can be devastating, from daily pain and poor
health to low educational achievement and bullying.
Why does it happen?
The reasons for hunger and neglect are complex. Parents who were
neglected as children can pass the behaviour on; there could be
drug and alcohol issues in the home, or parents could be being
forced to prioritise paying for heating rather than food.
Importantly, while poverty and deprivation can make the symptoms of
neglect worse, they are not themselves part of the cause.
It doesn't have to be like this...
There are many ways in which this hunger can be combatted, from
classes for parents on how to cook on a budget; to food parcels
given out at children's centres. But early
intervention is key. Action for Children is campaigning for
more early intervention services, which get involved with families
facing neglect before their problems gets out of hand.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Action for Children
Action for Children is partnering with iconic children's
character, 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', to raise awareness of -
and funds towards - the 'Take your action for children' neglect
appeal. As part of the partnership, Action for Children's Very
Hungry Caterpillar pin badges are now available for a minimum
donation of £1 at Gap shops nationwide.