The definition of Neglect has been outlined in Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) which stresses the importance of the child’s wellbeing and the need for psychological and emotional care as well as physical care:
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.
Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse.
Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care givers);
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment; and
- may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Neglect can be a difficult form of abuse to recognise and yet it can have a long lasting and damaging effect on the child. The National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) (2013) have identified the following features which are consistent with neglect:
The physical signs of neglect which may include amongst others:
- Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children
- Constantly dirty, offensive smell
- Loss of weight, or being constantly underweight
- Inappropriate clothing for the conditions.
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate neglect may include:
- Complaining of being tired all the time
- Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
- Having few friends
- Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised.
Further information about neglect for practitioners:
View the NSCB's neglect policy in the Policies and Procedures Manual, this includes further information about recognising neglect and the indicators of neglect.
View the Neglect Toolkit for practitioners.
All members of Northamptonshire's Children's Workforce can take the free online training course 'Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect' via the Safeguarding e-Academy.
Last updated: 17 August 2016