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Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Board


Last updated: 19/12/2022

The NSPCC write that neglect is not meeting a child’s basic physical and psychological needs (Department for Education, 2018; Department of Health, 2017; Scottish Government, 2021; Wales Safeguarding Procedures Project Board, 2020).

It is a form of child abuse that can have serious and long-lasting impacts on a child’s life - it can cause serious harm and even death.

The four main types of neglect are:

  • physical neglect: not meeting a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter; not supervising a child adequately or providing for their safety
  • educational neglect: not making sure a child receives an education
  • emotional neglect: not meeting a child’s needs for nurture and stimulation, for example by ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them
  • medical neglect: not providing appropriate health care (including dental care), refusing care or ignoring medical recommendations (Horwath, 2007).

Neglect can happen at any age, sometimes even before a child is born. If a mother has mental health problems or misuses substances during pregnancy, for example, she may neglect her own health and this can damage a baby’s development in the womb (Haynes et al, 2015).

The Bracknell Forest Child Neglect Strategy 2023-26 states that all children have a right to be protected from neglect. Neglect is rarely associated with a single event, but more often occurs in the context of an on-going failure to meet a child’s basic needs which results in the serious impairment of a child’s health or development.

The pan-Berks Child Protection Procedures section on neglect has further information on risk and indicators and a section specifically on teenage neglect.

The latest learning from case reviews (Dec 22) states that neglect is a serious form of harm. Both families and professionals can become overwhelmed and demoralised by issues of neglect. Children may experience repeated attempts by professionals to try and improve the situation.

Published case reviews highlight that professionals face a big challenge in identifying and taking timely action on neglect.

The learning from these reviews highlights that professionals from all agencies must be able to:

  • recognise physical, emotional, medical and educational neglect
  • understand the cumulative and long term impact of neglect
  • take timely action to safeguard children.

If you think that a child is at risk of being harmed or neglected please contact MASH:

National guidance:

Neglect: learning from case reviews Summary of key issues and learning for improved practice around neglect

Missed opportunities: indicators of neglect – what is ignored, why, and what can be done? (DfE, 2014)

Childhood neglect: improving outcomes - the framework Resources on recognising and responding to child neglect (DfE, 2012)

In the child’s time: professional responses to neglect (Ofsted, 2014)