Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs. 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 abuse as well. Neglect is dangerous and can cause serious, long-term damage – even death.

Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register in the UK.

It happens when parents or carers can’t or won’t meet a child’s needs. Sometimes this is because they don’t have the skills or support needed, and sometimes it’s due to other problems such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or poverty.

Although professionals may be worried about a child, it’s not always easy to identify neglect. There’s often no single sign that a child or family need help. So, professionals look for a pattern of ongoing neglect before they step in.

These leaflets summarise how neglect and emotional abuse affects children 0-6 years, aged 5 to 14 and teenagers 13-18 years old.

More Neglect Information

Neglect Resources for Professionals