The definition of neglect from statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2018 is ‘the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment;
- Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment’
It may also include neglect of or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Neglect is characterised by the absence of a relationship of care between the parent/carer and the child and the failure of the parent/carer to prioritise the needs of their child. It can occur at any stage of childhood, including the teenage years.
There are other factors that need to be considered to enable early identification of neglect by partners. This strategy covers the range of needs across the continuum, including the provision of support to families as early as possible to prevent significant harm to children and families.