Being looked after properly means that your parent or carer gives you the basic things that every child or young person really needs, when you need them:
- Clean clothes and shoes - so you don't get cold
- Enough to eat and drink - so you're not hungry or thirsty
- Protection and guidance to keep you away from dangerous situations
- Somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep
- Help when you are ill or you've been hurt
- Comfort and affection
- Support with getting your education.
Neglect is the opposite and is when you aren't being looked after properly, for example you might:
- be left alone for a long time
- be given too much responsibility for looking after other people
- not be taken to the doctor when you are ill or hurt
- be left with people who you do not feel safe with
- not get any support from an adult
- not enough food to eat
- not have clothes to keep you warm
- not have somewhere to stay
If the people who are supposed to look after you don’t give you the things you need or make it hard for you to take care of yourself, then this is neglect. It can make you feel unloved or unimportant.
What's the difference between really needing something and really wanting something?
Sometimes you want something really badly and it feels like you need it. But there's a difference between 'wanting' and 'needing'. Watch this video by ChildLine to see what neglect really is and and how this can impact on you:
Why are my parents/carers not looking after me properly?
As a young person, you have the right to be well looked after but sometimes parents and carers are not able to manage this by themselves. There are lots of reasons why your parent or carer might be neglecting you. They may be doing their best but just don’t have enough money. Maybe they have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or are having problems with their mental health. Whatever the reason is, it is still your parents or carers job to make sure you are properly looked after.
What should you do if you think you're being neglected?
If you think you are being neglected - it is important you talk to someone you trust like a teacher, friend or social worker so you and your parents or carers can get the help they need. No matter what problems your parents are having, there will be someone who can help.
Speaking to someone doesn't mean that you'll automatically be taken into care. The Police and Social Services are there to protect you from being neglected but they will usually only put you in care if they think it’s too dangerous for you to live at home.
Talk to someone when you are ready... your problem will get better once you speak up.
Click this link to see ChildLine's really useful guide about being neglected by parents or carers. (PDF 3 MB)
Last updated: 30 July 2015