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Understanding Adolescent Neglect: Troubled Teens: Executive Summary

A study of the links between parenting and adolescent neglect

The Children’s Society has recently begun a comprehensive research programme to explore adolescent neglect. This summary outlines the context for the programme and focuses on the first study on adolescent neglect and parenting.

The significance of adolescent neglectNeglect is the form of maltreatment most often recorded in official safeguarding data, regardless of the age of the children concerned, and is the most prevalent form of maltreatment young people experience according to research. Studies have shown that this is true in all developed, western countries.

Neglect can lead to significant problems – including with mental ill health, substance misuse, school (attendance, behaviour and attainment), offending and early sexual activity – and can be the precursor of serious harm.Policy and practice activity around neglect has increased in England in recent years, alongside the publication of fresh research into the issue, but for the most part this has focused on neglect of young children.

This may be for many reasons. Neglect continues to be regarded as being a particularly complex and multi-faceted issue, sometimes seen as being an intractable problem – and there is evidence to suggest that many adults, including the professionals who work with them, think that adolescents have a natural resilience to poor parenting experiences.

The Children’s Society’s research programme, which is being conducted in partnership with the University of York, seeks to redress this neglect of adolescent neglect and to answer the following questions:

  • What is ‘adolescent neglect’?
  • How much adolescent neglect is there?
  • What are the contexts for adolescent neglect?
  • What are the outcomes of adolescent neglect?