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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

Court of Protection Practice and Procedure Conference 2016

A comprehensive guide to best practice and current thinking

26 MAR 2014

Most children in the UK have witnessed neglect, Action for Children reveals

Journals Manager & Online Editor


Nearly three quarters (73%) of UK children know another child who is suffering from neglect, according to a report published by Action for Children.

Despite neglect affecting more than 1.5 million (1 in 10) children and with fears the numbers are rising, the Government does not seem to have a strategy to deal with the problem.

The Government has a chance to take the lead by producing a comprehensive strategy for tackling child neglect. Action for Children is suggesting practical measures to be included in a strategy, including a web portal where people can report concerns about children and systems allowing accurate birth data to be collected.

Neglect is the most frequent reason for a child protection referral to social services and features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:

'Child neglect is rife.

Evidence points to an average of more than one child on every street in the country who is suffering from some form of neglect.

They are not fed or clothed properly. They consistently miss medical appointments or are absent from school. They are ignored by their parents, left on their own or completely disregarded by the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally.

Our research shows that children as young as eight can see it, so why can't the Government do more?'

The report, Child neglect: the scandal that never breaks, shows the extent of neglect through the eyes of children. This is the fifth year Action for Children has published research about neglect, based on conversations with more than 18,000 people, including 4,000 children.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • 52% of children who were worried about another child told someone about their concerns.
  • Children said good, consistent relationships with skilled professionals are key, with 47% saying a safe adult to talk to would help a child they had been worried about.
  • 40% of parents want more information on where to go for help.
  • 32% of professionals feel powerless to help neglected children.
  • 65% of social workers said cuts impeded their ability to intervene in cases, with 73% saying public spending cuts will make it more difficult to intervene in the future.


Without a strategy to tackle child neglect, professionals trying to help and support vulnerable children cannot always act when they need to, leaving children to suffer.

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