Action for Children warns of public confusion over neglect

One in four adults has been worried that a child they know is being neglected but 38% of this group have not reported their concerns to anyone, Action for Children said today.

A poll of over 1,000 adults for the charity found that 16% of those who had concerns about a child did not tell anyone because of a fear of repercussions while a similar proportion felt that it was none of their business. Almost a quarter (23%) said they did not think they had enough information on who to approach for help.

Lack of public understanding

Action for Children said the survey illustrated a lack of public understanding about child neglect, despite its increasing prevalence, and warned that it suggested that children were not receiving help at an early enough stage. 

Neglect 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 or development”.

Rise in neglect cases

In 2007-8, 15,300 children in England became subject to a child protection plan for reasons of neglect, up from 14,800 in 2006-7, and the category accounted for 45% of cases, compared with 25% for emotional abuse, 15% for physical abuse and 7% for sexual abuse.

The charity said it was launching a major piece of research, with Salford University, to investigate how neglect should be tackled.

Action for Children chief executive Clare Tickell said: “Child neglect is a real danger to children and also often indicates underlying and serious problems in the family as a whole.”

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