Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs. Some of the signs of neglect include:
- Poor physical appearance – a child who is dirty, hungry, has a lack of appropriate clothing, bad hygiene, not having access to medical care and treatment
- Absence of supervision/boundaries – a child who is put in danger or not protected from physical or emotional harm, use of inadequate care givers, chaotic family environment with no boundaries or routines
- A child not getting the love, care and attention they need from their parents or carers
A child who’s neglected will often suffer from other forms of abuse as well. Neglect can cause serious, long-term damage to the child’s emotional, social and physical development having a profound impact on their future outcomes and in some cases can result in death.
It happens when parents or carers can’t or won’t meet a child’s needs. Sometimes this is because they don’t have the skills or support needed, and sometimes it’s due to other problems such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or poverty.
Why is this important in Portsmouth?
Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be the subject of a child protection plan in the UK. In Portsmouth, approximately 70% of children subject to a plan are suffering from neglect.
What do professionals need to do?
Although you may be worried about a child, it’s not always easy for professionals to identify neglect. There’s often no single sign or incident that a child or family need help. It is more likely that there will be a series of concerns over a period of time that, taken together, demonstrate the child is at risk. If you think a child may be experiencing neglect, don’t wait:
- Complete a SAF and gather all relevant information about the child, including the parenting capacity and family and environmental factors in order to form a professional judgment on strengths, risks and harmful factors
- Use the Neglect Identification Measurement tool and guidance to guide your questions, observations and areas for further consideration
- Regularly review progress using this tool and update the multi-agency plan accordingly
Remember: risks of harm around a child can accumulate and combine. Using the Neglect Identification Measurement tool and guidance will help you identify points when you need to involve other agencies and / or escalate your concerns.