SSCP Neglect Toolkit

This toolkit recognises that neglect is complex and can be hard for professionals to define clearly. It differs by type, severity, frequency and impact. It often coexists with other forms of child abuse making it difficult to identify and address in a timely way. Failure to identify and act on the early signs of neglect may have severe and long term consequences for the child. This toolkit is here to complement the HIPS procedures.

Who is this toolkit for?

This toolkit is there to help all those in Southampton who work with children, parents and caregivers, or whole families. It aims to provide a framework for good practice around the early identification of signs of neglect. Good early help can make a real difference to families' lives and help safeguard children.

Early help is about providing support as soon as we start to recognise some of the indicators of neglect at any point in a child’s life. Providing effective early help can prevent children from suffering unnecessary harm and improve their long-term outcomes.

This toolkit provides a range of prompts to help practitioners in considering the various aspects of neglect.

Identification of neglect

Indicators are observable/measurable developmental or behavioural concerns that suggest the child is experiencing actual neglect. An example of this would be unmet health needs such as dental decay or not having immunisations.

There are many indicators of neglect. The Southampton Pathways document lists some of the potential indicators of neglect, along with the 'Signs of Neglect' document as part of this toolkit.

A number of factors can increase the likelihood of neglect in some families. Please see Identifying risks of neglect in the toolkit to see possible circumstances where children may be at risk of neglect.

Awareness of the factors that can lead to neglect and professional assessment and analysis of these are key to ensuring that the right support and intervention are provided in our effort to prevent neglect in the first instance.

Watch this short video clip from the NSPCC:

Which children are more vulnerable to neglect?

Any child can suffer neglect. But the NSPCC in their report 'Neglect is also child abuse - know all about it' (2021) recognises that some children and young people are more at risk than others. These include children who:

  • Are born prematurely
  • Have a disability
  • Have complex health needs
  • Are in care
  • Are seeking asylum

Other problems and life circumstances can make it harder for parents and carers to meet their child's needs. When one or more of these issues occurs, it can put a child at risk of neglect.

Neglect in adolescence

Neglect can be difficult to recognise in older children. The signs are less obvious than with younger children.

Children's growing independence in adolescence can lead to a common assumption that they need less care. Although the nature of the care shifts over time, the importance of stable, supportive relationships does not diminish.

Adolescents living in situations of neglect may be particularly vulnerable to having their needs, and the risks they face, overlooked.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary
NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight
Southampton City Council