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Poll reveals almost 1 in 4 parents fear for neglected children in school holidays

Media Team  5 August 2011


More than a quarter of parents with a child under the age of 18 (26%) think that children are more likely to be neglected in the summer holidays than term time, according to new figures out today (Friday 5 August).

The YouGov poll of over 2000 parents, for charity Action for Children, found that many parents are going as far as feeding other people's children (14%) or having them to stay in the holidays (9%), fearing that they aren't being fed or looked after properly at home.

 

It is estimated that up to 10% of all children in Britain are neglected (1) - failing to receive the right care and attention, including enough food, clean clothes, safety and security, warmth and love. The charity fears that the long summer holidays can lead to an increase in problems faced by neglected children, as they lose the routine, structure and regular meals provided by schools in term time.

 

Further findings from the survey reveal that;

 

  • 26% of parents questioned said that children are more likely to be neglected in the summer holidays than in term time. 
  • Dads agreed more than mums, with 29% agreeing, compared to 24% of mums asked.  Parents surveyed in the Midlands were most likely to agree (33%).
  • 23% of parents surveyed have worried that their children's friends were being neglected during the summer holidays. Parents in the North have been particularly concerned, with just over 1 in 4 (26%) saying that they have worried.
  • 14% of parents with a child under the age of 18 have fed a child (other than their own) during the school holidays because they weren't sure they were being fed properly at home, parents in the North have dished up extra food more than most (17%) and 9% of all parents surveyed have had another child over to stay the night in the school holidays because they weren't sure they were being looked after properly at home. London parents get out the sleeping bags the most (14%).
  • 1 in 10 (10%) parents surveyed have taken another child on a family trip/ outing in the school holidays because they weren't sure they were being looked after properly.
  • 15% of mums surveyed have cared for a child, other than their own, because they thought they were being neglected at home. Parents in Wales were most likely to have done this (17%).

Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, commented; ""No child should ever feel lonely, hungry or worthless, but once the school gates have closed for the summer holidays that is exactly how many of the 1.5 million neglected children in Britain are left feeling.  The government must help to tackle neglect within families, and give councils a clear signal not to cut play schemes and activities for children in the summer holidays - they may look like easy cuts to make but they are vital for our most vulnerable children, and their families."  

 

Cathy, 43, and mum of two said; "My daughter goes to our local primary school and it's impossible not to be aware of the children who aren't being cared for.  One child comes home with us on a regular basis. I used to be able to track her mum down to tell her, but it has become obvious she doesn't care where she is.  Her clothes are usually dirty and worn out, she doesn't have a toothbrush and is always in trouble for not doing her homework. Worst of all for her she is always infested with nits which means the other children avoid her. We do as much as we can to help; clothes, meals and a bed occasionally but I still worry for her when she's not with us."

 

Action for Children is campaigning to improve the way child neglect is tackled, highlighting the importance of intervening early and calling for summer play schemes and activities to be protected by local authorities. The charity is visiting various parts of the UK this week, encouraging people to sign up to a petition calling on the government to tackle child neglect.