Neglect is one of the four categories of child abuse (along with physical, sexual and emotional abuse). It is defined as 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 and development.
Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse and once the child is born, neglect may involve failure to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing or shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
- Protect from physical and emotional harm or danger
- Meet or respond to basic emotional needs
- Ensure adequate supervision including the use of adequate care-takers
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
- Ensure that her/his educational needs are met
- Ensure that her/his opportunities for intellectual stimulation are met
The Children's Services Department has the responsibility to care for children who are abandoned by their parents or carers.
Children's Services sometimes receives enquiries from professionals (teachers, health visitors or others) concerned about the hygiene of a child's home, or about a child who often appears to be unkempt. Whilst these signs are not necessarily conclusive proof of neglect, they can suggest cause for concern.
Allegations of chronic or periodic neglect - including insufficient supervision; poor hygiene, clothing or nutrition; failure to seek or attend treatment or appointments; or domestic chores inappropriate to a child's age - can lead the Children's Services Department to carry out an initial assessment of the child's needs (under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989).