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Child neglect is everyone’s responsibility

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

This item was carried on the govtoday website - http://www.govtoday.co.uk/local-government/37-adult-children/14690-child-neglect-is-everyone-s-responsibility


Neglect is the most common form of child abuse in the UK. While sexual and physical abuse or online exploitation rightly attract much media publicity, the extent and impact of child neglect is often overlooked.

It shouldn’t be.

Of all forms of maltreatment, neglect leads to some of the most profound negative and long-term effects on mental and physical development. Neglect is not only damaging in early years, its effects in teenage years can be equally devastating, and the impact can last for a lifetime.

Today the charity Action for Children launches The State of Child Neglect in the UK; the second addition of its annual review of child neglect in partnership with the University of Stirling. The report seeks to gauge the scale of child neglect, and crucially identify barriers that are preventing vulnerable children from receiving the early help they need. As Chair of the All Party Group on Child Protection I find its findings are worrying, but sadly, not surprising.

The report shows that nine out of ten teachers, police officers and social workers are regularly coming into contact with children they suspect are suffering from neglect.

Neglect is a factor in 60% of child deaths or serious injuries, investigated by Serious Case Reviews.

Child protection statistics are just the tip of the iceberg with studies suggesting up to 10% of children in the UK suffer from neglect.

And yet, almost half of front-line professionals say they feel powerless to intervene.

So what can we do about it?

Firstly, combating neglect is everyone’s responsibility. The public are worried about child neglect and want to do something about it. Action for Children’s report states that over half of the public think the government should provide better guidance. Following the example of Scotland, easily accessible web portals could help the public in the rest of the UK to find out about local resources and information to help them act on their concerns.

Many people may be worried about the welfare of a child on their street; perhaps seeing them left alone at home for hours on end or rarely changing out of the same unwashed clothes. By explaining to people effectively what neglect constitutes, and how it can be reported, we can help identify and support the most vulnerable children.

Secondly, health and education professionals must be involved in providing help at an early stage. Local agencies must work together to make sure that children do not fall through the cracks between different services and systems.

Child protection systems must recognise the importance of neglect so that timely decisions are made, meaning neglected children receive effective help across all levels of need from the identification of suspected cases to chronic neglect

As you read this 1.5million children in the UK are suffering the daily reality of neglect. It is a statistic that should not just cause us concern but one that should prompt us to take action.

To read The State of Child Neglect in the UK visit: http://actionforchildren.org.uk/media/5115101/12_13_0201_neglect_summary_report_a5_port_v12.pdf

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