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Child neglect and its relationship to other forms of harm - responding effectively to children’s needs: Executive summary

This summary draws together the key messages, themes and implications for practice and policy emerging from a series of three linked evidence scopes commissioned by Action for Children and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) with Research in Practice. The scopes consider the potential relationship between neglect and other forms of harm, and what this tells us about responding effectively to meet children’s needs:

> Scope 1: Exploring the Relationship between Neglect and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) (Hanson, 2016).

> Scope 2: Exploring the Relationship between Neglect and Adult-perpetrated Intra-familial Child Sexual Abuse (IFCSA) (Allnock, 2016).

> Scope 3: Exploring the Relationship between Neglect and Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB) in Children and Young People (Hackett, 2016).

The summary is aimed at practitioners, managers, local service leaders and commissioners, and local and national policy makers. It will also be of interest to researchers (recommendations for further research are set out in each scope). Like the scopes themselves, the summary is intended to encourage reflection on practice and to stimulate discussion, rather than invite uncritical acceptance. The practice implications can be found on page 13.

The scopes draw on relatively new and emerging evidence bases and it is important to be clear that the evidence so far indicates connections rather than causality; factors discussed in the scopes are not predictive, but they may be explanatory in helping us understand how neglect influences vulnerability to CSE, IFCSA and HSB. To tackle such complex issues, it is necessary to debate, reflect and pursue new knowledge with a critical eye. The hope is that the scopes and summary will play a part in promoting that discussion.

Of course, it is recommended that readers explore the issues highlighted here in the scopes themselves, which provide richer detail.