Neglect is when a child or young person doesn't have their basic needs met by their parent or carer. When a child or young person is neglected, it can affect the way they grow, learn and how they behave. Neglect is usually more than a one-off incident. It can build up over time and the child and parent may think it is normal.

Every child or young person needs:

  • Clean, warm clothing that fits them
  • Enough food and drink to help them grow and be healthy
  • Support with their hygiene or a place to wash themselves
  • Encouragement, praise and play
  • A safe place to live
  • Protection from dangerous situations
  • Love and care from parents and carers
  • Emotional support and attention
  • Enough attention given to their health and access to any medication they need
  • Online supervision
  • A parent or carer who knows there they are when they go out to play

What children and young people say about neglect:

  • "Not taking responsibility"
  • "Feeling alone"
  • "It means overlooking or ignoring someone’s needs or wants. Pretending or being forgotten by someone."
  • "Not taking care of things."
  • "Not being there emotionally"
  • "Ghost"
  • "When no one bothers about you"

Why it is important

If a child or young person is neglected it can affect the way they learn, grow, behave and their relationships with others. When a child or young person is neglected it can lead to them feeling unwell, unsafe or upset. In some situations it may lead to serious injury or harm.

What to do

We all have a role to play in spotting the signs of neglect. If you see some of the signs below then it is important to let a professional know. This may be a doctor, health visitor, midwife, teacher, family support worker or social worker.

If you are worried about a child, you can report concerns to us or the police.

If you are a child and you are worried about another child being neglected please let a grown up that you can trust know.

Signs to look out for

If you are worried someone you may know is being neglected, there may be some signs to look out for. There may be other signs than the ones below too, if you are worried it’s always important to tell someone who can help:

  • They are hungry a lot of the time. They may not bring enough lunch to school or are asking other people to share food
  • They look like they haven’t washed, their clothes aren’t clean or they may be dirty or smelly
  • Their parents don’t know where they are or let them stay out a lot later than other children their age
  • They miss lots of school, arrive late or come to school when they are poorly. They may find it hard to concentrate at school.
  • They are left alone by their parents or carer
  • Their house may be cold, dirty or they may not have important things that they need
  • Their parents don’t know where they are or let them stay out a lot later than other children their age

Help from Children's Services

You can find out more about social care support for children and families - how to ask for support, what social care support is, how we assess needs and how we provide help.

If you're a professional, use the request for support form to request support.

How we are working to prevent neglect

The Lancashire Multi-Agency Neglect Strategy has more information about how we address neglect and improve outcomes for children and families in Lancashire.

As part of the strategy, our professionals will begin to use a tool called the Graded Care Profile 2 (GCP2), from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The GCP2 will help professionals to measure the care provided by a parent or carer in meeting their child's needs. It will help them put in place support and interventions to address areas of concern as early as possible.

Professionals in Children's Services and partner agencies who work directly with children and families will use it. 

If you are a professional, see our information about GCP2 for professionals.