The LSCB has recognised that Neglect is a significant issue that impacts children and young people living in Luton. This has been identified from the Serious Case Reviews on Child E and Child F, learning reviews and the performance data that the Board monitors. In 2016/17 we had a successful push to ensure all relevant practitioners were trained in using Graded Care Profile 2 (linkkkkkkk) a tool that supports assessment of neglect. This year we will be evaluating its impact through audits and other activities. We will also be working with partners on considering how the safeguarding system can be improved to ensure it provides an effective service for young people. The starting point for this is the study we commissioned from Children’s Society on adolescent neglect (linkkkkkkkk) which sets out the evidence base on neglect and what is known about what works.

What is Neglect?

The damaging effects of neglect can lead to accidental injuries, poor health, disability, poor emotional and physical development, lack of self-esteem, mental health problems and even suicide.

Neglect can often become an issue when parents are dealing with complex problems, sometimes including domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues, social-economic issues or they may have been poorly looked after themselves. These problems can have a direct impact on parents’ ability to meet their child’s needs. Even when parents are struggling with other personal issues they have a responsibility to care for their child or seek help if they are unable to parent adequately.

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Signs of neglect can include:

– Loss of weight or being constantly underweight
– Frequent absenteeism for school
– Begs or steals money or food
– Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses
– Lacks appropriate clothing, e.g. for weather conditions, shoes are too small, ill fitting clothes
– Clothes are consistently dirty or child has a strong body odour
– Teeth are dirty, hair quality is poor and may contain infestations
– Parent or carer has failed to protect a child from physical harm or danger

Although professionals may be worried about a child, it’s not always easy to identify neglect. There’s often no single sign that a child or family need help. Neglect is the most common reason for professionals taking child protection action.

In 2015 Working together defined neglect and this definition is used by all relevant agencies, including the NSPCC, Children’s Society etc ……
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.
(HM Gov 2015)

The NSPCC identifies the following forms of neglect

Physical neglect
Failing to provide for a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter. Failing to adequately supervise a child or provide for their safety.

Educational neglect
Failing to ensure a child receives an education.

Emotional neglect
Failing to meet a child’s needs for nurture and stimulation, perhaps by ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them. It’s often the most difficult to prove.

Medical neglect
Failing to provide appropriate health care, including dental care and refusal of care or ignoring medical recommendations.

Practitioners should be aware that neglect CAN be life threatening and needs to be treated with as much urgency as other categories of maltreatment and is not confined to the youngest children occurring across all ages.

A simple and helpful way to view neglect is to consider the needs of children and whether or not their parents or carers are consistently meeting such needs. If not, then neglect may very well be an issue.

If you have concerns that a child is being neglected please call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01582 547653 or email InitialAssessment@luton.gov.uk

Poverty

When considering neglect, poverty can be an important factor
Child poverty is defined by the experience of material deprivation and lack of financial resources. Growing up in poverty can seriously impact on a child’s emotional wellbeing, physical health and education attainment with long lasting affects into adulthood.

In 2015, 3.9 million children were recorded across the UK to be living in poverty with this being an increase of 200,00 over the 12 month period.
Children and adults from poor household are 3 times more likley to have mental health conditions.

Research undertaken by the Children’s Society found that 10% of families have taken out credit to pay for food, 18% for clothing and 6% for heating.
Children born into poorer families are more likely to be born premature, have low birth weight and die in the first year of life.

Useful Resources

Action for Children

Neglect affects up to 1 in 10 children, and that’s too many. Neglect’s damaging to children’s physical, mental and emotional development. Too many children across the UK are suffering…

Visit the website

Thinking About Adolescent Neglect

A review of research on adolescent neglect focusing on identification, assessment and intervention…

Visit the document

NSPCC

Find out more on what neglect is. How to prevent it, identify the signs and symptoms, and report your concern.

Visit the website

Adolescent Neglect Briefing

This briefing is aimed at improving knowledge, understanding and confidence around identifying and responding to adolescent neglect…

Visit the document

Children Society

Is neglect of adolescents an important issue? When social workers make an assessment for a Child Protection Plan they can select from four categories – emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse…

Visit the website