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“Neglect is 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 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” – Working Together 2015

Signs of neglect can include:

  • Frequent absenteeism from school;
  • Begs or steals money or food;
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses;
  • Lacks appropriate clothing, e.g. for weather conditions, shoes are too small, ill-fitted clothes;
  • Clothes are consistently dirty or ‘smelly’;
  • Teeth are dirty, hair quality is poor and contains infestations;
  • Hands are cold, red and swollen;
  • Loss of weight or being constantly underweight;
  • The parent or adult caregiver has failed to protect a child from physical harm or danger.

The damaging effects of severe neglect can lead to accidental injuries, poor health, disability, poor emotional and physical development, lack of self-esteem, mental health problems and even suicide.

Neglect can often become an issue when parents are dealing with complex problems, sometimes including domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues, social-economic issues or they may have been poorly looked after themselves. These problems can have a direct impact on parents’ ability to meet their child’s needs. Even when parents are struggling with other personal issues they have a responsibility to care for their child or seek help if they are unable to parent adequately.

If you have concerns that a child is being neglected please contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400

More information:

Brighton & Hove LSCB Neglect Strategy

Read our Neglect Bulletin

Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures

View the NSPCCs factsheets on neglect

Ofsted’s report In the child’s time: professional responses to neglect