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9.4 Practice Guidance - Neglect

This chapter has been reviewed in August 2016 with no changes made.


Neglect is 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. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care givers); or
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child's basic emotional needs. (Working Together 2015).

Effects of Neglect

Apart from being potentially fatal, neglect causes great distress to children and leads to poor outcomes in the short- and long-term. Possible consequences include an array of health and mental health problems, difficulties in forming attachment and relationships, lower educational achievements, an increased risk of substance misuse, higher risk of experiencing abuse as well as difficulties in assuming parenting responsibilities later on in life. The degree to which children are affected during their childhood and later in adulthood depends on the type, severity and frequency of the maltreatment and on what support mechanisms and coping strategies were available to the child.

Swindon Neglect Toolkit

Swindon LSCB has developed a number of resources to support practitioners in understanding and addressing neglect.

Swindon LSCB Neglect Framework and Practice Guidance
Neglect Framework Pocket Guide

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