Neglect is one of the most widespread forms of child abuse.
Too many children in Scotland live with neglect on a daily basis, and neglect can have damaging consequences for a child throughout his or her whole life.
Neglect happens when the basic needs of a child are not being met on a regular basis. Those needs include love, safety, affection, food, warmth and shelter. One-off incidents like a child forgetting money for school dinners don’t necessarily indicate neglect. However, persistent and on-going signs of neglect might include a child being constantly hungry, poorly or inadequately dressed, or unwashed. A child who is being neglected might be seen out and about at all times of day and night, or who is always alone.
Other signs of neglect might include health appointments being missed which can impact on a child’s development. Neglected children may not gain weight or grow as expected and have problems with social skills and learning.
Older children who are neglected might behave in ways which indicate that they’re in distress. They might go missing and become vulnerable to exploitation, or take risks by using drugs and alcohol or get involved with criminal behaviour.Their relationships with friends might be difficult and they may also be subjected to bullying and ridicule.
If you’re worried that a child is being neglected, it’s always better to say something than do nothing – see our Get Help section for sources of help and advice.