Safeguarding partnership urges communities to look out for signs of child neglect
Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership are asking communities to help keep children safe and look out for the signs of neglect.
The call to action is part of the partnership’s ‘Neglect’ awareness campaign launched this month, in a bid raise awareness of neglect in children and young people in particular during the pandemic.
Children and young people are normally seen by lots of different adults every day, like neighbours, grandparents and teachers. During the pandemic, many are spending much more time at home, and there are not as many opportunities for adults to spot the signs of neglect or abuse and help. Isolation can place children at a greater risk of neglect.
What is neglect?
Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and the most common form of child abuse. A child might be left hungry or unwashed, or without proper clothing, shelter, supervision or health care. This can put children and young people in danger. And it can also have long term effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Types of neglect
There are different types of neglect, including:
- Physical neglect – A child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they aren’t properly supervised or kept safe.
- Educational neglect – A parent doesn’t ensure their child is given an education.
- Emotional neglect – A child doesn’t get the nurture and stimulation they need. This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.
- Medical neglect – A child isn’t given proper health care. This includes dental care and refusing or ignoring medical recommendations.
- Social neglect – occurs where children are not given the opportunity to develop relationships outside of their home.
- Identity neglect – refers to a carer failing to recognise or address the child’s needs which include cultural, religious, gender and sexuality.
Look for the signs – How can I tell if a child is being neglected?
Neglect can be really difficult to spot. Having one of the signs doesn’t necessarily mean a child is being neglected. But if you notice multiple signs that last for a while, they might show there’s a serious problem. Some of the signs you may spot include:-
- Children crying for long periods of time
- Young children left alone, or are outdoors by themselves
- Children looking unwashed or not changing their clothes
- Children are hungry or asking for other people’s food
- Children are living in dangerous conditions, ie in a house that is in a dangerous state of disrepair; around drugs, alcohol or violence
- Children being withdrawn or anxious
- Their parents don’t seek medical treatment when they are ill or are injured.
Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership also provide advice on the types and signs of neglect and what you can do if you’re worried about a child.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:–
“All families come under pressure from time to time. But increased or continued stress can seriously affect how well a parent can look after their child.
“Every child deserves to be loved, cared for and protected and we all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from neglect. *One in 10 children have experienced neglect. That’s why we want to raise awareness and offer advice on the types and signs of neglect and what you can do if you’re worried about a child.
“Teachers, social workers, health professionals and the police all play an important role in safeguarding and protecting children, but the public has an important role to play too. The public are in a unique position to spot concerns of neglect among children and young people they have contact with in their daily lives.
“You don’t have to be absolutely certain about whether a child is being abused; if you have a feeling that something’s not right, talk to us, and we can look into it. If more people share their concerns with our social care team, children and families can be helped earlier.”
Ivan Powell, Independent Chair of Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership, added:-
“It is not always easy to identify if a child is being neglected, or to know what to do and how to raise concerns if you think that a child is at risk. A third of people who suspect child abuse do nothing. A number of people do not act on their suspicions because they’re worried about being wrong.
“This is why the Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership have launched our Neglect campaign to help raise awareness of the signs, symptoms and impact of neglect on children and young people.
“By doing this we hope that it will increase professional and public awareness of the nature of neglect and its impact on children and young people; and ensure children, young people, families, professionals and the wider community are aware of the support and advice available.”
Concerned about a child?
If you suspect that a child is experiencing neglect, reporting the concern may not be something you want to consider.
Your initial reaction may be to dismiss it and just hope it’s not true. But it’s vital that you report your concerns if you feel a child may be suffering. If you don’t report your concerns, it could mean that the neglect will continue.
Whether you are the child’s parent, relative, family friend, neighbour or a professional, don’t let anything stop you from protecting a child.
How do I report a concern?
If you suspect that a child or young person is being neglected or is at risk of being neglected then you should report it immediately.
Call us on 0345 678 9021.
If you believe a child or young person in Shropshire to be at immediate risk of harm or in need of emergency medical attention call 999.
For the very latest information and advice about safeguarding children visit Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s website at http://www.safeguardingshropshireschildren.org.uk/
*Radford, L. et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. London: NSPCC.
About Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership (SSCP)
The Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership are committed to increasing the safety and resilience of people in Shropshire (including children and adults with care and support needs) and their communities; in order to reduce harm caused by abuse, neglect or other crime.
The Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership (SSCP) members are:
- Probation Service
- Shropshire Council
- Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group
- West Mercia Police.
The aim of the partnership is to:
- safeguard and promote the welfare of children and adults with care and support needs
- reduce crime and disorder and in particular re-offending
- combat the misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances.