Why is child neglect the scandal that never breaks?

Posted by Hannah Dobbin / Tuesday 25 March 2014 / Child neglect

‘Sometimes no-one believes you. No-one comes to your house to see what’s going on. So no-one might know or can tell from the outside.’
(Chloe, young person)

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse in the UK today. Up to one in 10 children across the UK suffers from neglect, it is the most frequent reason for a child protection referral, and it features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.

73% of UK children know another child who is suffering from neglect.

Our report – Child neglect: the scandal that never breaks – sets out the barriers to tackling neglect and what needs to be done.

Barriers to tackling child neglect

Since 2011, around a third of professionals have felt powerless to intervene when they have concerns about child neglect. Social workers routinely have to wait until cases increase in seriousness before they intervene. The police are similarly frustrated and are working to an 81 year old and antiquated criminal offence of child neglect.

94% of the public agree people should do something when they are worried about a child but 45% want more information on where to get help.

Parents are often wary of seeking help to improve their parenting. Because of basic communication problems, they may not know about the services that are available to help them in their area.

Local areas do not collect accurate data about child neglect and so do not commission services based on the scale of local need.

Children themselves recognise the signs of neglect among their friends and classmates, but they are worried about telling people and are rarely asked about their concerns.

What needs to be done?

For over six years, Action for Children has evidenced the size of the problem and what works to tackle child neglect. We have helped neglected children through our services and supported professionals by developing resources and training.

We have spoken to over 18,000 children, young people, parents carers and professionals. More than 4,000 of whom were children.

We want to see the Government take this opportunity and lead the way by producing a national strategy for child neglect.

You can see full details of our recommendations in our report.

With a strategic, joined-up approach to intervening as early as possible we can tackle the scandal of child neglect.

Join the conversation.

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