Spotlight on preventing child neglect

Topics: Neglect

Overview of our child neglect research, evaluations and new evidence on effective early help

Our spotlight on neglect provides evidence that child neglect is still the most common form of abuse in the UK and is taking both a human and an economic toll.

This report gives an overview of our research on child neglect, evaluations of assessment tools and services, and new evidence on how we can work together to prevent child neglect. On the basis of this evidence we propose that, although challenging, it's possible to prevent and forestall child neglect.

This report is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Author: NSPCC
Published: 2015

Key findings

Our report Hurting inside: NSPCC report on the learning from the NSPCC helpline and ChildLine on neglect provides key statistics on contacts to our helplines about neglect and shares what children are telling us about their experience of neglect.

  • Our helpline received over 17,600 contacts about neglect in 2014-15.
  • Lack of food is the top issue when children talked to ChildLine counsellors about neglect. Lack of food is often linked to parental alcohol or substance misuse or mental health problems.

Together with our local partners we've implemented and evaluated two assessment tools and three family services. We found that:

  • Graded Care Profile (GCP) helped practitioners assess neglect more accurately and identify the strengths parents can build on
  • North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS-G) could assist in supporting sound decision-making and better evidence
  • SafeCare helped the majority of families who took part in the evaluation. It was valued by referrers - 91% said they would refer similar families to SafeCare in the future
  • Triple P was thought to significantly improve parents' relationship with their child, their parenting strategies and communications as well as children's behaviour.
  • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) had similarly strong findings, with positive effects on children's behavioural and emotional difficulties.

Our new service, Thriving Families, brings together all these approaches in an integrated model to get the right help to families as soon as possible.

Our report Thriving communities: a framework for preventing and intervening early in child neglect is aimed at national and local decision makers. It puts forward a range of actions for preventing neglect including:

  • using evidence-based services for preventing and addressing neglect
  • increasing the community's knowledge and awareness of healthy child development, neglect and help seeking
  • enabling the development of positive and trusting relationships between children and the practitioners who work with them.

New research Realising the potential: tackling child neglect in universal services sets out a model for more effective universal services provision for neglect.

Overall, our evaluation and research findings provide evidence that:

  • there are services that work to tackle neglect
  • we can design better systems to pick up early signs of neglect
  • relationships make the difference.


"If we combine our determination and effort, we know that neglect can be prevented."

Ruth Gardner, author of report


Please cite as: NSPCC. (2015) Spotlight on preventing child neglect. London: NSPCC.