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.
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.
Effects of Neglect
Neglect changes childhood, and children who have been neglected can experience many short-term and long-term effects, including:
- Accidental injuries
- Taking risks like running away from home, using drugs, or breaking the law
- Difficulty with relationships later in life or getting into dangerous relationships
- Poor physical health
- Poor emotional and psychological development
- Lack of self-esteem
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Self-harm and attempts at suicide
A child being neglected may also be suffering from other forms of abuse.