Neglect is defined as 'the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs which is then likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development'.

This includes failing to provide:

  • Adequate food, clothing or accommodation
  • Protection from physical and emotional harm or danger
  • Access to appropriate medical care or treatment

Neglect can have a debilitating and long–lasting effect on a child’s physical wellbeing and on their mental, emotional and behavioural development. In some cases the effects can cause permanent disabilities and, in severe cases, death.

Signs and effects of neglect can include:

  • Living in an inadequate home environment
  • Being left alone for a long period of time
  • Poor appearance and delayed development
  • Poor muscle tone or prominent joints
  • Poor skin, sores, rashes, flea bites or bed sores
  • Malnutrition such as a thin or swollen tummy
  • Poor hygiene such as being dirty or smelly
  • Untreated health problems such as bad teeth
  • Unwashed clothing
  • Inadequate clothing, for example not having a coat in winter
  • Confusion
  • Being persistently ignored by parents or carers
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members
  • Difficulties with school work
  • Missing school
  • Being anxious about, or avoiding, people
  • Difficulty in making friends
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Becoming involved in anti–social behaviour
  • Early sexual activity
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Over–sedation

If any of these signs are familiar, see who can help here.

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