Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs and the most common form of child abuse. A child might be left hungry or dirty, or without proper clothing, shelter, supervision or health care. This can put children and young people in danger. And it can also have long term effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Types of neglectNeglect can be a lot of different things, which can make it hard to spot. But broadly speaking, there are 4 types of neglect.
- Physical neglect - A child's basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they aren't properly supervised or kept safe.
- Educational neglect - A parent doesn't ensure their child is given an education.
- Emotional neglect - A child doesn't get the nurture and stimulation they need. This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.
- Medical neglect - A child isn't given proper health care. This includes dental care and refusing or ignoring medical recommendations.
Signs of neglectNeglect can be really difficult to spot. Having one of the signs doesn't necessarily mean a child is being neglected. But if you notice multiple signs that last for a while, they might show there's a serious problem. Children and young people who are neglected might have:
Effects of neglect
Neglect changes childhood. Children who've been neglected might experience short-term and long-term effects. These can include:
- problems with brain development
- taking risks, like running away from home, using drugs and alcohol or breaking the law
- getting into dangerous relationships
- difficulty with relationships later in life, including with their own children
- a higher chance of having mental health problems, including depression.
Who's at risk
Any child can suffer neglect. But some children and young people are more at risk than others. These include children who:
- are born prematurely
- have a disability
- have complex health needs
- are in care
- are seeking asylum.
Other problems and life circumstances can make it harder for parents and carers to meet their child's needs. When one or more of these issues occur, it can put a child at risk of neglect.
- Domestic abuse
- Drugs or alcohol
- History of abuse
- Learning disabilities
- Mental health
- Living in poverty
- Lack of support
If you have concerns about a child please report it!