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Almost 1 in 10 children in the UK are neglected by their parents or carers. Their emotional, behavioral and physical anguish often leads to a lifetime of struggling; the ability to lead a normal life often interrupted by confusion and sorrow about their upbringing. But it can be prevented.

The NSPCC defines neglect as the ‘persistent failure to meet a child’s basic and essential needs’. Children need to be raised in a healthy environment where they receive enough food, water, warmth, shelter, protection and health care, whilst their parents and carers remain continuously dependable, responsible and attentive.

Why are children suffering neglect?

Children in care or seeking asylum are particularly at risk, but children are most often neglected because their parents lead chaotic, turbulent lives. They may not have received adequate parenting themselves, or they may have difficulty expressing their emotions properly or may simply not understand how to meet the needs of their children. In many causes there is also substance abuse present in the family, and/ or mental health problems.

What can I do?

If you believe a child is being neglected it can be a difficult responsibility to deal with, but you could save and improve an innocent child’s life if you deal with the situation.

So, what should you look out for if you believe a child is being neglected? A child may be living in an inadequate home environment if:

1. They are left alone for long periods of time.
2. Their carers persistently ignore them.
3. They have a continuously poor appearance and hygiene.
4. Delayed development.
5. The child is taking on the role of carer for others.
6. They have sores or other skin problems.
7. Their tummies are thin or swollen.
8. They have poor muscle tone and/or prominent joints.
9. Often wear unwashed or inadequate clothing.
10. Worrying amount of difficulty with schoolwork.
11. Frequently absent from school.
12. Severe anxiety about people and being around others.
13. They partake in early sexual activity.
14. Drug and/or alcohol abuse.

If you see these signs in a home with children or on the child themselves then they may be in danger.

Taking the right steps

NSPCCOf course, if you are unsure you can always call the NSPCC to discuss you concerns and get some advice on how to move forward with your reservations. If you call the NSPCC helpline – which is free and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – counsellors will assess the information you give them and advise you on what action to take. You can also remain anonymous if you choose to be.

It’s important you know that ringing the NSPCC often doesn’t result in a family being broken up unnecessarily. Most parents and carers will simply need help and extra support to properly care for their children, which can be supplied by professionals at the NSPCC. If the situation is more complex then of course more drastic action will be taken. If you believe such action should be taken immediately, please contact emergency services by calling 999.

Taking this sort of action, especially when not involved in the families life, can seem like a huge undertaking but even if you are mistaken and the situation is not as bad as it seems there will have been a reason – no matter how small – as to why the symptoms of neglect were present. If the situation is severe, well then you will have improved and possibly even saved a child’s life.

NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000



About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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