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Our Lady and St Rose of Lima
Catholic Primary School & Nursery

Learning, Living, Loving Together in Christ

What is Neglect?

What is Neglect?

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.  It is dangerous and can cause serious, long-term damage to children and young people.  It can result in death.

Neglect can be a lot of different things, which can make it hard to spot.  Sometimes it is because parents/carers do not look after their children and sometimes because they are unable to.


There are 4 types of neglect:

  • Physical Neglect
  • A child's basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they are not properly supervised or kept safe.
  • Educational Neglect
  • A parent does not ensure their child is given an education.


Emotional Neglect

A child doesn't get the nurture and stimulation they need. This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.


Medical Neglect

A child is not given proper health care. This includes dental care and refusing/ignoring medical recommendations or failing to take their child to appointments.


Signs of Neglect

If you notice multiple signs that last for a while, they show there is a serious problem.  Children and young people who are neglected might have:


Poor appearance and Hygiene

  • Being smelly or dirty
  • Being hungry
  • Having unwashed and/or ill-fitting clothing
  • Having the wrong clothing, such as no warm clothes in winter
  • Have frequent and untreated nappy rash in infants


Health and Development Problems

  • Anaemia
  • Body issues, such as poor muscle tone or prominent joints
  • Medical or dental issues
  • Missed medical appointments, such as for vaccinations
  • Not given the correct medicines
  • Poor language or social skills
  • Regular illness or infections
  • Repeated accidental injuries, often caused by lack of supervision
  • Skin issues, such as sores, rashes, flea bites, lice, scabies or ringworm
  • Thin or swollen tummy
  • Tiredness/constant tiredness
  • Untreated injuries
  • Weight or growth issues


Housing and Family Issues

  • Living in an unsuitable home environment, such as having no heating
  • Being left alone for a long time
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members


Change in behaviour

  • Becoming clingy
  • Becoming aggressive
  • Being withdrawn, depressed or anxious
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Stealing/scavenging
  • Displaying obsessive behaviour
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or take part in activities
  • Missing school
  • Showing signs of self-harm
  • Substance misuse


Effects of Neglect

Neglect changes childhood. Children who've been neglected might experience short-term and long-term effects.


These can include:

  • Problems with brain development
  • Taking risks, like running away from home, using drugs and alcohol or breaking the law
  • Getting into dangerous relationships
  • Difficulty with relationships later in life, including with their own children
  • A higher chance of having mental health problems, including depression


Whilst it is the most common form of abuse it is also one of the most difficult to recognise as there is often no single sign.  If professionals, parents or pupils have concerns, they should report them to a member of the designated safeguarding team:

Mr Carroll (Headteacher) is the Designated Safeguarding Lead

Mrs Kavanagh (Office Manager) is the Deputy Safeguarding Lead


Further advice and support

Nice Guidance: Child abuse and neglect

Research in Practice: Neglect - mapping resource

Ofsted: A professionals response to neglect

NSPCC: Child abuse and neglect

Action for Children

Children's Needs: Parenting Capacity