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Facts and Figures of Child Neglect (NSPCC)  

1 in 10 children have experienced neglect (Radford, L. et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today.) Figures based on findings from 11-17 year olds. 9.8% said they had been severely neglected at some point by parents or guardians. 
Over 26,000 children were identified as needing protection from neglect in 2016 (Child protection register and plan statistics for all UK nations for 2016).  
Neglect is the most common reason for taking child protection action (Child protection register and plan statistics for all UK nations for 2016). 
Neglect is a factor in 60% of serious case reviews (Based on analysis of 139 serious case reviews undertaken in England from 2009-2011. Serious case reviews are commissioned when a child dies, or is seriously injured, as a result of abuse or neglect; Brandon, M. et al. (2013) Neglect and serious case reviews: a report from the university of East Anglia commissioned by NSPCC.) 


Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment in the UK and can manifest itself in many ways and accross a number of domains. 
It is "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. " 
(Definition provided by Working Together) 
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. 
Failing to ensure a child receives an education. 
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. 
Failing to provide appropriate health care, including dental care and refusal of care or ignoring medical recommendations. 
(Source: Horwath, J. (2007) Child neglect: identification and assessment. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.) 

Impact of Neglect 

Neglect in childhood may have both short-term effects and long-term effects that last a lifetime. 
Children who don’t get the love and care they need from their parents may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with other people later in life, including their own children. 
Children who have been neglected are more likely to experience mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
Young people may also take risks, such as running away from home, breaking the law, abusing drugs or alcohol, or getting involved in dangerous relationships - putting them at risk for exploitation. 

Implications for Attachment 

A parent or carer's behaviour affects the relationship between parent and child. 
This relationship, or bond, between a child and their primary caregiver - usually the mother or the father but sometimes another family member or carer - is described by Attachment Theory. 
Neglect leads to Poor attachment which in turn can significantly affect the relationships that people have throughout their lives, including how they interact with their own children. (Recommended Reading: "Attachment Across the Lifecourse: A Brief Introduction" David Howe, Palgrave 2011) 

Neurological Development 

The first years of a child's life greatly influence how their brain develops and therefore is the reason why neglect can be so damaging – a child's experiences can change their thought processes and neural pathways. If a baby is malnourished, neural cells can become weak or damaged and this can cause lowered brain function. 
If a child has a poor relationship, attachment or little interaction with a parent then it can change how their brain develops emotional and verbal pathways. 
Neglect can severely alter the way a child's brain works. This can lead to an increased risk of depression in later life as well as dissociative disorders and memory impairments. Changes to the brain caused by neglect have also been linked to panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 
Download "Understanding the effects of maltreatment on brain development (PDF)." HERE 


View the Case Study "Kyle". 
Based upon what you see and hear, how has his development been affected by his experience of neglect in terms of: 
Short Term Effects 
There is possible evidence of developmental delay: Communication, social interaction and play, behaviour problems such as tantrums and frequent head banging 
Long Term Effects 
Risk for Social Communication Difficulties, Anxiety, Attachment Disorder 
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