Firstly, thanks for coming this far. We want to reassure
you that simply looking for advice about child neglect on these
pages is completely anonymous, in accordance with our privacy
statement and we hope you find some useful information
What is child neglect?
Child neglect is an ongoing failure to provide the right care and
attention to a child's needs, including food and a safe
environment, or to a child's emotional needs including warmth,
security and love. A lack of these things are likely to result in
serious damage to the child's health or development.
How do you know if a child is being neglected?
Neglect can lead to some obvious physical symptoms though often it
can take years for emotional and psychological symptoms to become
apparent. Some of the possible indicators could include the
following, though they may also be symptoms of poverty and
deprivation, not child neglect:
- frequently going hungry
- frequently having to go to school in dirty clothes
- not being taken to the doctor when they're ill
- regularly having to look after themselves at home alone under
the age of 16
- being abandoned or deserted
- living in dangerous conditions ie around drugs, alcohol or
- finding it difficult to adapt to school
- children who are often angry, aggressive or self harm
- children who find it difficult to socialise with other
Why does it happen?
It is often not easy to pinpoint one specific reason why child
neglect happens and in many cases it happens due to many factors
and over a long period of time. Sadly, some parents may be
repeating a pattern learned from their own parents. That's why
Action for Children takes a long-term approach to helping a child
and their carers to reverse the situation they find themselves in.
A number of studies have shown that there are some more common
problems among adult carers that are associated with neglect of
children. These include:
- parental mental health problems such as depression
- domestic violence
- substance abuse eg drugs or alcohol
- parental history and learned parental behaviour
If you have an immediate concern about a child, you should contact
the Social Care department provided by the council in your area who
are available 24 hours a day. You can find your
council's contact details
online or in the phonebook.
If your concern is urgent, please call the police in your
area or 999.
If you are concerned that a child may in fact be being abused but
are unsure then it is still best to contact Social Care or the
police and discuss your concerns with them. They are trained to
recognise the signs of both child neglect and child abuse and will
be able to help you accordingly.