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Abuse is a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others. Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers)
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Glossary, Working Together to Safeguard Children, DfE 2018

National and local research shows that many practitioners fail to recognise the severity or possible consequences of neglect and children are often left in neglectful situations for far longer than should be the case.

Professionals must respond to neglect with the same degree of seriousness and urgency as all other forms of child abuse. The earlier we intervene to prevent neglect the better the outcome for the child.

The Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership (SCSP) has developed a Neglect Strategy for the city to ensure the early recognition of neglect and improved responses by all agencies, so that the life chances of children are promptly improved and the risk of harm reduced. 

Sheffield Neglect Strategy:   

Neglect Training Pathway:

Neglect Training Toolkit (Single Agency):

Understanding the lived experience of the neglected child: tools & resources:

Dental neglect:


Adolescent neglect:

    SCSP fact sheets & policies:

    Other information:

    Other relevant information can be found on this website here: Information and resources or in the index on the left side of this page.

    If you are concerned about a child or young person, follow this link: Referring a safeguarding concern to Children’s Social Care


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