Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic and essential needs, and is the most common form of child abuse. Children need adequate food, water, shelter, warmth, protection from physical harm and danger, health care, and carers who are attentive and dependable in providing these needs.
If these aren’t provided, this is neglect. Neglect can also include lack of responsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.
There are four broad types of neglect:
- Physical neglect is where a child’s basic needs (e.g. food, shelter, clothing) are not met or the child isn’t kept safe.
- Emotional neglect involves a parent or carer failing to provide the nurture and stimulation they require.
- Educational neglect is when a parent or carer doesn’t ensure that a child is properly educated.
- Medical neglect involves a child not being given proper health care and dental care.
Neglect can put children and young people in danger and can also have longer-term effects on their physical and mental wellbeing, including:
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.