Neglect Facts and statistics

Child neglect is the most common form of child abuse, but it isn’t always easy to identify. 

1 in 10 children have experienced neglect

Explanation: Figures based on findings from 11-17 year olds. 9.8% said they had been severely neglected at some point by parents or guardians.

People

Over 27,000 children were identified as needing protection from neglect in 2017

Explanation: There were 27,856 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2017 (or 31 July 2017 in Scotland). This equates to 48% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans. This is based on figures from each UK nation and includes all categories that include neglect. These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at ongoing risk of significant harm from neglect.

Children on a child protection register or subject to a child protection plan due to neglect by nation:

  • England: 24,590
  • Northern Ireland: 1,045
  • Scotland: 951
  • Wales: 1,270

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? and our summaries of child protection register and plan statistics for England (PDF)Northern Ireland (PDF)Scotland (PDF) and Wales (PDF).

Neglect is the most common reason for taking child protection action

Explanation: There were 27,856 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under a category that included neglect on 31 March 2017 (or 31 July 2017 in Scotland). This equates to 48% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans.

This is based on figures from each UK nation and includes all categories that include neglect. These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at ongoing risk of significant harm from neglect.

Children on a child protection register or subject to a child protection plan due to neglect by nation:

  • England: 24,590
  • Northern Ireland: 1,045
  • Scotland: 951
  • Wales: 1,270

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2018 and our summaries of child protection register and plan statistics for England (PDF), Northern Ireland (PDF), Scotland (PDF) and Wales (PDF).

33% of contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline in 2016/17 were concerns about neglect

Explanation: Of the NSPCC’s helpline 66,000 contacts in 2016/17, 59,349 resulted in advice or a new referral (the remainder are referral updates).

Of the 59,349 contacts,  19,448 (33%) were about neglect. The reason for contacting is not recorded for referral updates.

See also Indicator 8 in How safe are our children? 2017.

The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 19,000 contacts about neglect in 2016/17

Explanation: The NSPCC’s helpline responded to 19,448 contacts about neglect in 2016/17.

See also Indicator 8 in How safe are our children? 2017.

View trend graph Trends in contacts about abuse (PNG)

42% of the concerns that the NSPCC’s helpline referred to police or children’s services in 2016/17 related to neglect

Explanation: The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 66,000 contacts in 2016/17 from people who were concerned about a child’s welfare.

47,495 contacts resulted in a referral to the police or social services. 40,626 were new referrals with the remaining 6,869 being updates on previous referrals.

16,882 (42%) of new referrals were due to concerns about neglect. The reason for referral is not recorded for referral updates.   

See also Indicator 8 in How safe are our children? 2017.

Neglect is a factor in 60% of serious case reviews

Explanation: Based on analysis of 139 serious case reviews undertaken in England from 2009-2011. Serious case reviews are commissioned when a child dies, or is seriously injured, as a result of abuse or neglect.

Find about more about serious case reviews.

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