Growing Fears Child Neglect Is 'Overlooked'

A quarter of adults in the UK have been worried that a child is being neglected, according to new figures released by a survey.

Action for Children claimed that one in four adults have suspected a child was at risk, but more than a third (38%) fails to report it.

The survey was commissioned by the charity to highlight the difficulty identifying and preventing the neglect of children, which means a persistent failure to meet a youngster's basic physical and psychological needs.

This ranges from a child not feeling loved, not being fed or clothed properly and worrying their home is not safe or secure.

It comes as child neglect is becoming an ever-growing safeguarding concern. In 2008 in England alone neglect was the reason why 45% of children were on the child protection register, compared to 15% for physical abuse, 7% for sexual abuse and 25% for emotional abuse.

The survey polled over 1,000 parents and adults in the UK and highlighted the public's lack of understanding of child neglect and the reasons why adults hesitate to act on their suspicions.

Among the results, it discovered 16% of adults said they did not tell anyone because they were frightened of repercussions, while 15% said they did not say anything because it was not any of their business.

Meanwhile 11% said they would tell a neighbour, relative or friend first rather than the social services or police, and 23% said they did not think they had enough information about who to ask for help.

Leading the research for Action for Children, Professor Tony Long at Salford University says: "Unlike sexual or physical abuse, neglect is often overlooked and poorly understood.

"The results of this work between the University of Salford and Action for Children will inform Government policy, and have a major impact on the way children and their families are supported."

Researchers will work with Action for Children services in Scotland, Wales and England looking at the reasons why families are referred for support, what needs and problems they have, what support they are given and the long term effects of this work on the children involved.

The findings came as the charity announced the start of a major research project into neglect.


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