Despite the scale of the problem, and the devastating impact that neglect has on children’s lives,it does not receive the political attention it deserves.
The Government does not have a strategy to tackle child neglect. There is much that could and should be done to tackle child neglect. In the majority of cases parents can be supported to change their behaviour and improve their parenting. Yet there remain unnecessary barriers that prevent cases of neglect being dealt with:
1. The professionals most qualified to tackle child neglect are also those most frustrated that they cannot help. Social workers routinely have to wait until cases increase in seriousnessbefore they intervene. The police are similarly frustrated and are working to an 81 year old andantiquated criminal offence of child neglect.
2. The general public are increasingly aware of child neglect, but too many people don’t know where to go to report their concerns
3. Parents are often wary of seeking help to improve their parenting. Because of basic communication problems, they may not know about the services that are available to help them in their area
4. Local areas do not collect accurate data about child neglect and so do not commission services based on the scale of local need
5. Children themselves recognise the signs of neglect among their friends and classmates, butthey are worried about telling people and are rarely asked about their concerns.
These issues can be resolved.
With a strategic and joined-up approach to intervening as early as possible we can tackle the problem of child neglect.It is time for the Government to take a lead and produce a strategy to tackle child neglect.
‘I think it’s the adults who need to approach children if they think something’s not right, it’s not up to the children to approach them.
It can be a big burden for a child to ask for help.’
(Logan, young person)