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The state of child neglect in the UK Recommendations for the UK Government

Based on an annual review by Action for Children in partnership with the University of Stirling

Action for Children has been working with vulnerable families for over 143 years. We know that too many children across the UK are experiencing chronic neglect throughout large parts of their childhood. They are not getting the early help they need, when they need it.

Neglect is the most common reason that children are made subject to a child protection plan with neglect featuring in 60 per cent of all Serious Case Reviews. These child protection statistics are just the tip of the iceberg with studies suggesting up to 10 per cent of children in the UK suffer from neglect. Young people have said that neglect makes them feel invisible, lonely, unloved and depressed. Others have said they have thought about self harming and suicide.

There is significant evidence about the severe impact of neglect upon children’s wellbeing and development, in the early years as well as the teenage years. Neglect can take different forms, ranging from obvious physical signs such as being severely under or over weight, to children being left alone in the house or on the streets for long periods of time. Children may lack parental support to go to school, miss health appointments, have no opportunities to have fun or be ignored when distressed.

For some, child neglect can result in death, either through starvation or due to accidents because of a lack of supervision.