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Neglect happens when a parent / carer fails to adequately provide for the needs of a child (beyond the constraints imposed by poverty).

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.

One in 10 children have experienced neglect.

Whereas society has only begun to know more about sexual abuse of children more publicly since the 1990’s, neglect of children is an ancient harm, that was the pre-cursor to the child care system which has it origins in Victorian England, and has developed into the welfare state we have today.

Ultimately, a child who has been neglected by his/her parents, is often taken into the care of the state, who becomes its “corporate parent” until either they become an adult, or the care order is discharged.

Many of the cases we deal with arise from a failure by Local Authorities to properly care for children in care.

  • Sometimes children are knowingly left with abusive parents, usually because of a local authority’s desire to keep families together.
  • In other cases local authorities transfer children from one abusive environment to another, where, for instance they are subjected to intolerable conditions/abuse in whatever placement they are placed in, such as foster care, children’s home etc. See elsewhere in our site for more details of abuse in care.

What medical effects can neglect have upon a child?
  • Poor nutrition, and ultimately starvation
  • Diseases arising from low standards of hygiene such as skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies, or ringworm.
  • untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
  • repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision
  • recurring illnesses or infections
  • not been given required medicines and vaccinations
  • poor muscle tone or prominent joints
  • skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm
  • thin or swollen tummy
  • anaemia
  • tiredness
  • faltering weight or growth and not reaching developmental milestones (known as failure to thrive)
  • poor language, communication or social skills.

We thank NAPAC (National Association for Prevention of Abuse in Childhood) for allowing us to use this and other definitions.

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