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What is child neglect?

Child neglect is another form of child abuse. It involves the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, resulting in the serious impairment of the child's health, physical, emotional or mental development.

Child neglect covers the main areas listed below:

  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, clothing, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate, provide learning facilities, a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., not paying attention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or allowing the child to use alcohol, drugs or get involved with crime)


Did you know


Laws on child abuse vary from country to country. In the UK, for example, The Children Act 1989 states that abuse should be considered to have happened when someone's actions have caused a child to suffer "significant harm" to their health or development.

"Significant harm" includes:

  • Hitting or shaking a child (Physical Abuse)
  • Punishing a child too much (Physical Abuse)
  • Constantly criticizing, threatening or rejecting a child (Emotional abuse)
  • Sexually interfering with or assaulting a child (Sexual abuse)
  • Not looking after a child - not giving them enough to eat, ignoring them, not playing or talking with them or not making sure that they are safe. (Neglect)


Useful to know