Hundreds of children and teenagers are being left to face the tragic consequences of neglectful parents without sufficient protection from authorities.
Khyra Ishaq was just seven when she died of starvation at the hands of her mother. Neighbours had reported seeing a painfully thin little girl in the garden, but social services failed to respond. It transpired that Khyra and her five siblings had been kept locked out of their fully-stocked kitchen and left to starve by their mother and her partner. By the time anyone discovered the extent of the neglect, Khyra had died.
The NSPCC has demanded the problem of child neglect be addressed with a ‘strategic approach’, starting with research to measure the severity of the problem.
The charity funded a study undertaken by the University of East Anglia investigating some of the stories behind child deaths over the past 10 years.
The University analysed 645 ‘serious case reviews’, which were cases where abuse, neglect, or self-harm was highly suspected to be involved.
Of these cases, 175 children were marked down as being at risk of abuse or neglect, while 101 were listed on the child protection register because they were already suffering neglect. This, the researchers said, was a bigger number than those being physically or sexually abused.
Ruth Gardner, from the NSPCC, said: “We now have clear evidence that neglect can lead to catastrophic harm as well as corrosive long-term damage to children’s well-being.”
A survey conducted last year found that social workers push cases of neglect to the bottom of the pile because they prioritise physical and sexual abuse.
The NSPCC has suggested that each local authority employ their own expert social worker to advise on cases of child neglect. Better training and further public health campaigns could also help professionals and the public spot signs of neglect so help can be offered sooner.
To find out how counselling for young people can help children deal with past neglect, please visit our Child Related Issues page.
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