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Statistics on child neglect

April 2014

  • Almost one in 10 young adults (9%) were severely neglected by parents or guardians during childhood.

  • Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register in the UK. 


Research statistics on the prevalence of child neglect


Child abuse and neglect in the UK today (Radford et al, 2011) is a major piece of NSPCC research which interviewed 1,761 young adults aged 18-24 years; 2,275 children aged 11-17 years and 2,160 parents of children aged under 11.

Below are the key findings on child neglect by parents or guardians.

 
  • One in 6 (16%) young adults were neglected at some point during childhood with one in 10 young adults (9%) severely neglected during childhood.
    (Based on interviews with 1,761 young adults aged 18-24 years).

  • One in 7 (13.3%) secondary school children have been neglected at some point, with one in 10 children (9.8%) severely neglected.
    (Based on interviews with 2,275 children aged 11-17 years).

  • One in 20 (5%) of children under 11 have been neglected at some point, with one in 30 (3.7%) severely neglected.
    (Based on interviews with 2,160 parents or guardians of children aged under 11 years).

From Table 2 and Table 3 in: Radford, Lorraine, Corral, Susana, Bradley, Christine, Fisher, Helen, Bassett, Claire, Howat, Nick and Collishaw, Stephan (2011) London: NSPCC.



Child protection register statistics

 
  • There were 21,312 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013 (or 31 July 2013 in Scotland).

    42% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans in the UK were under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013 (or 31 July 2013 in Scotland).


  • In England, 17,930 children were the subject of a child protection plan under the category of neglect on 31 March 2013.

    42% of all the children subject of a child protection plan in England were under the category of neglect on 31 March 2013.


  • In Scotland, 1,029 children were on the child protection register under the category of neglect on 31 July 2013.

    38% of all the children on the child protection register in Scotland were under the category of neglect on 31 July 2013.

Northern Ireland and Wales use categories that include more than one type of abuse.


  • In Northern Ireland, 1,033 children were on the child protection register under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013.

    53% of all the children on the child protection register in Northern Ireland were under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013.


  • In Wales, 1,320 children were on the child protection register under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013.

    45% of all the children on the child protection register in Wales were under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2013.
 For a breakdown by nation and the sources of these figures please visit our page on child protection register statistics .


  • Roughly one in seven children who became the subject of a plan for neglect in England during 2011-12 had been subject to a plan at least once before.*
* Previous plans were not necessarily for neglect.
From additional analysis from correspondence with the Department for Education based on Table D4 in: Department for Education (2012) Main table: characteristics of children in need in England, 2011-12 (Excel) . London: Department for Education.



Further reading


How to find, understand and use statistics about child abuse
A brief introduction to child abuse statistics.

Comparing child abuse statistics over time and between countries
Explains the issues around looking for trends in statistics over time, within the UK and internationally.



Contact the NSPCC's information service for further information on neglect, statistics or any child protection topic