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Neglect in Safeguarding: Understanding Its Impact 

Neglect is a form of abuse that can have profound and lasting effects on both children and adults. It involves the failure to provide adequate care, support, or supervision, resulting in significant harm to an individual's physical, emotional, or mental well-being. 

  1. Neglect in Children: 

Neglect can manifest in various ways when it comes to children: 

  • Physical neglect: Lack of proper nutrition, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
  • Emotional neglect: Ignoring a child's emotional needs, such as affection, attention, and support.
  • Educational neglect: Failure to ensure a child receives proper education or school attendance.
  • Medical neglect: Not seeking necessary medical treatment or ignoring a child's health concerns. 

Neglect can impair a child's development, leading to physical health issues, emotional disturbances, poor academic performance, and long-term psychological trauma. 

Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Board has a Child Neglect Strategy 2023-2026.  Part One provides a background to neglect, how to respond to it and learning from case reviews and inspections. Part Two provides details on neglect from the pan-Berkshire Safeguarding Children Arrangements Procedures.  Part Three provides a tool for professionals to use where neglect is suspected.

  1. Neglect in Adults: 

Similarly, neglect can affect vulnerable adults, especially the elderly or those with disabilities: 

  • Physical neglect: Lack of proper nutrition, hygiene, or medical care.
  • Emotional neglect: Isolation, lack of social interaction, or neglecting emotional needs.
  • Financial neglect: Exploitation or failure to manage finances adequately.
  • Self-neglect: Occurs when an individual neglects their own essential care needs, or their surroundings. Find additional information on self-neglect and hoarding.

Adult neglect can lead to deteriorating physical health, mental health issues, social isolation, and a reduced quality of life. It might also indicate underlying issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health concerns.

Addressing Neglect:

Safeguarding against neglect involves early identification and intervention. It requires collaboration among social care, health, education, police, and community members. Key steps include: 

  • Awareness and education: Raising awareness about neglect signs and its impact.
  • Early intervention: Promptly identifying and addressing signs of neglect.
  • Support systems: Providing support services and resources to affected individuals and families.
  • Legal measures: Enforcing safeguarding laws and policies to protect the vulnerable.


Safeguarding individuals from the detrimental effects of neglect demands a collective commitment to awareness, prevention and intervention. By equipping ourselves with knowledge, fostering empathy, and promoting community involvement, we can contribute to creating environments where the basic needs of all individuals are met, ensuring a foundation for well-being and resilience.

If you suspect neglect or self-neglect, don't hesitate to report your concerns to relevant authorities or seek professional help.