More than a third of professionals who come into regular contact with children feel “powerless” to intervene when they suspect neglect, according to a new report from charity Action for Children.
Ninety per cent of the teachers, social workers and police officers polled for the report, entitled The State of Child Neglect in the UK, said they frequently encountered children they suspected were suffering from neglect, but 40 per cent felt they could not intervene.
Half said they thought intervention in neglect cases was more difficult than it need be, thanks to shortages in time, resources and staffing.
Members of the public were also surveyed, with a third saying they had suspected child neglect on occasion but had not acted out of doubt.
Just 12 per cent of frontline professionals say they are able to respond directly when child neglect is suspected, and 29 per cent per cent believe this number is likely to drop still further thanks to government spending cuts.
An estimated 1.5 million children in the UK are neglected, the report claims.
Action for Children Chief Executive Dame Clare Tickell said:
“It is of grave concern that one in every ten children could be suffering neglect. We know that early help has the potential to transform the lives of children and families, yet the report tells us that the public aren’t being given the know-how they need and professionals’ best efforts are being hindered by stretched budgets and a lack of resources. With more and more families struggling, vulnerable children are falling through the cracks of a child protection system that is failing some of those who need it most – sometimes with tragic consequences.”
The report’s recommendations include the creation of website which would enable members of the public to search by postcode for help available to children in their area.
The State of Child Neglect in the UK is the second in a series of annual surveys conducted by the University of Stirling on behalf of Action for Children. Almost 6,000 people were polled for the report.
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