Impact of neglect underestimated
Published: 14.03.13Child neglect should be taken as seriously as physical or sexual abuse because some cases will lead to death or long-term damage, warns the NSPCC.
The charity, who funded a study examining the background to child deaths, say neglect was a factor in many recent cases. 'Neglect and Serious Case Reviews' was conducted by the University of East Anglia and analysed 645 serious case reviews carried out in England between 2005 and 2011 to understand what part neglect played in them. Of these, 175 involved children who were on a child protection plan either at the time or prior to their death or serious injury.
Dr Ruth Gardner, the NSPCC's lead on neglect, said:
"This study is the first time anyone has looked behind the stark figures to try and understand the complex dangers of neglect. We now have clear evidence that neglect can lead to catastrophic harm as well as corrosive long term damage to children's wellbeing."
The concerns raised by the research follow a previous survey conducted by the NSPCC which found that only one in 20 social workers felt timely action was being taken on child neglect and that they had experienced pressure to put neglect cases to the bottom of their workload.
The NSPCC is calling for every local authority to have an expert social worker who can advise on child neglect cases along with better training to help professionals recognise and act decisively on child neglect. It also wants to see a public health campaign so everyone can spot the signs of neglect and targeted support for vulnerable families.