What is neglect?
Neglect is not an event but rather an absence of appropriate care often over a long period. It may be difficult to distinguish between neglect and material poverty but persistent failure to provide basic needs is integral to neglect. Some families face great adversity however aspects of neglect cannot be dismissed. Neglect is a serious form of maltreatment and can be life threatening.
Neglect can take many forms. It can be a parent allowing their child to suffer serious harm on a one-off occasion or failing to care for them over a long period. It can be emotional as well as physical with children not receiving basic daily care, emotional warmth, stimulation or guidance and boundaries.
Neglected children can be left alone in the house or streets for a long time. They can lack proper health care, be ignored when distressed, or even when excited or happy.
Neglect has far reaching consequences affecting all aspects of a child’s development. It has negative and long-term effects on brain and other physical development, influences behaviour, educational achievement and children’s emotional wellbeing.
Neglect can mean that children have trouble making and keeping relationships. It can have an impact on how they parent their own children.
Neglect often occurs alongside other family problems including mental health issues, substance misuse or living with domestic violence.
Amongst the challenges that may be encountered by children who are exposed to neglect are:
· Development delay and failure to thrive
· Hunger and thirst
· Low weight
· Lack of appropriate medical care, missed medical appointments and pain caused by untreated condition(s)
· Inadequate protection from emotional, physical or sexual harm
· Pain/embarrassment caused by ill-fitting or inappropriate clothes
· Difficulties concentrating and making friends at school
· Lack of opportunities for socialisation
· Elevated likelihood of poor mental health and low self‐esteem
· Feelings of isolation and rejection
Working Together 2018 defines neglect as:
“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); or
· Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.”
The Neglect Strategy is a document to establish strategic aims, objectives and priorities for Solihull’s approach to tackling neglect. This strategy was reviewed with a range of multi-agency practitioners and managers before being agreed by the Board in 2017.
Solihull has also designed a neglect toolkit to assist work in this area
Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be on a child protection plan in England. Providing Early Help can prevent children suffering unnecessary harm and the NSPCC have produced 2 reports that give consideration to this:
In the child’s time:professional responses to neglect is a OFSTED report that explores the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard children who experience neglect, with a particular focus on children aged 10 years and under.
Growing up neglected: a multi-agency response to older children is a report for the third joint targeted area inspection programme, which began in May 2017.
In 2014 the Department for Education published Missed opportunities:indicators of neglect- what is ignored, why and what can be done?