Child Neglect

What is Child Neglect?

Child neglect is a form of child abuse and is the on-going failure to meet a child’s basic needs.

It can happen over a period of time, but can also be a one-off event.

A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care. A child may be put in danger or not protected from physical or emotional harm. They may not get the love, care and attention they need from their parents.

A child who's neglected will often suffer from other forms of abuse as well. Neglect is dangerous and can cause serious, long-term damage - even death.

Be curious and act against child neglect. Visit: dorsetlscb.co.uk/child-neglect

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Children who have been neglected may experience short-term and long-term effects that last throughout their life.

Not only will it make a child’s life miserable but it affects all aspects of their development and future relationships. It can be anything from affecting early brain development, language delay, physical injuries from accidents, low self-esteem, poor school attendance, to; self-harm and suicide attempts. In the worst cases, children can die from malnutrition or being denied the care they need and in some cases it can cause permanent disabilities.

Children who don’t get the love and care they need from their parents may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with other people later in life, including their own children. Children who have been neglected are also more likely to experience mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Physical Neglect; failing to provide for a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter. Failing to adequately supervise a child or provide for their safety.
  • Emotional Neglect; the omission of love and failing to nurture a child. Emotional neglect can overlap with emotional abuse but is a different form of maltreatment.
  • Educational Neglect; failing to ensure a child receives an education.
  • Medical Neglect; failing to provide appropriate health care, including dental care and refusal of care or ignoring medial requirements.
  • Children who are living in a home that is undisputedly dirty or unsafe
  • Children who are left hungry or dirty
  • Children who are left without adequate clothing, e.g. not having a winter coat
  • Children who are living in dangerous conditions, e.g. around drugs, alcohol or violence
  • Children who are often angry, aggressive or self-harm
  • Children who fail to receive basic healthcare
  • Parents who fail to seek medical treatment when their children are ill or injured.

You may notice a child;

  • becoming withdrawn
  • suddenly behaving differently
  • being anxious, clingy and/or obsessive
  • becoming depressed and/or aggressive
  • taking risks such as breaking the law, running away from home, getting involved in dangerous relationships which could put them at risk of sexual exploitation
  • having problems sleeping, nightmares
  • changes in eating habits or suffering from eating disorders
  • wetting the bed
  • soiling their clothes
  • missing school
  • abusing drugs, alcohol
  • self-harming, having thought about suicide.

The above list does not cover every possibility. You may have seen other things in a child’s behaviour that worries you.

The Dorset Police Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) consists of specially trained, nationally accredited detectives who are responsible for the investigation of allegations or suspicions of child abuse and neglect. The team works closely with other agencies, including local authorities.

Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. If you’re not getting the important things you need at home, you could be being neglected.

Click here for a guide for young people about neglect. 

Visit Childline for more information or call them on 0800 11 11. 

If you think a child is being neglected please report your concerns to your local authority children's social care: 

Bournemouth: 01202 458101.

Poole: 01202 735046

Dorset: 01202 228866, www.dorsetforyou.com/393713

Alternatively, talk to someone who works with the child or young person, such as their teacher, support worker or a medical professional.

Other reporting options:

NSPCC: 0808 800 5000, help@nspcc.org.uk

Dorset Police: You can also report your concerns to the police via the online form. Alternatively if you wish to speak with someone call 101. In an emergency, if you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 999.

Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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