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What is Neglect?

Neglect is the continued failure to meet your basic and essential needs.

You need adequate food, water, shelter, warmth, protection and health care and you need your parents and carers to be attentive, dependable and kind.

Being looked after properly means that you feel confident that you will have access to things when you need them:

  • Clean, warm clothes and shoes
  • Enough to eat and drink
  • Protection and guidance from dangerous situations
  • Somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep
  • Help when you are ill or you’ve been hurt
  • Comfort and affection
  • Support with your education

Neglect is the opposite and is when you aren’t being looked after properly.

  • You may be left alone for a long time
  • You may be given too much responsibility for looking after other people
  • You may not be taken to the doctor when you are unwell
  • You may be left with people who you do not feel safe with
  • You may not get any support from an adult
  • You may not have enough food to eat
  • You may not have clothes to keep you warm
  • You may not have somewhere to stay

If the people who are supposed to look after you don’t give you the things you need or make it hard for you to take care of yourself, then this is neglect. It can make you feel unloved or unimportant.

As a child you have the right to be well looked after but sometimes parents and carers are not able to manage this by themselves. There are lots of reasons why your parent or carer might be neglecting you. They might be doing their best, but just don’t have enough money. Maybe they have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or are having problems with their mental health. Whatever the reason is, it is still your parents or carers job to make sure you are properly looked after.

If you think you are being neglected you should talk to someone you trust such as a teacher so you and your parents/carers can get the help your family need. No matter what problems your parents are having, there will be someone who can help.

If you're having a difficult time:


If you or a friend are in immediate danger call the Police on 999

Call 0800 11 11

Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help.

If you’re struggling with your feelings, you're not alone. Young Minds have loads of practical tips and advice from young people just like you, as well as information on getting the support you need. 

Call 116 123 (free) or email jo@samaritans.org

They provide a safe place to talk anytime about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal.