Concerns about child neglect in SW

Nearly one third (30 per cent) of adults in the South West are very or quite worried about the welfare or safety of a child in their neighbourhood, according to a survey published by Action for Children yesterday.

While 67 per cent said members of the public should become involved when they have concerns about a neglected child, over half (53 per cent) said they needed more information about sources of assistance and advice about their worries.

The charity also surveyed children and young people2 in the area, with 30 per cent saying they have been very or quite worried about whether another child is being looked after properly at home.

Action for Children is calling for a national strategy on child neglect that includes a public awareness campaign containing clear, concise information about where children and adults can seek advice and report their fears.

Nearly half (45%) of children also said they needed more information about where to go with their worries.

Brigitte Gater, Action for Children’s director of children’s services across the South West said: “Friends, neighbours, the owner of a local corner shop – these individuals within a community can be crucial to a child’s safety by acting on their concerns.

“While our figures suggest an encouraging  increase in public awareness of child neglect, it is a scandal that people simply don’t know what to do when they think a child is not being cared for or where to go to raise the alarm that a child in their street may be in serious danger.

“Neglect is our biggest problem, the number one reason for child protection referrals to social services, but there is no vision to tackle it. To protect more children, we need a national strategy to command political and public support for change: only this commitment from Government will truly change children’s lives.”

The survey also found that in the South West:

  • 58 per cent of adults said services to help families before their problems got worse should be a government priority.
  • 39 per cent of adults did not tell anyone about their fears for a child’s welfare or safety because of the risk of repercussions such as causing trouble for the people involved, or themselves, if they were mistaken.
  • 39 per cent of children recognise that children who aren’t looked after well at home would be helped by a trusted adult to speak to.

Neglect features in 60 per cent of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child. A child experiences neglect when the adults who look after them fail to meet their needs. It can be emotional as well as physical, with children not receiving basic daily care, warmth, stimulation, boundaries, medical care or being left alone. It can affect all aspects of a child’s development and, in extreme cases, lead to a child’s death.