Child neglect: statistics briefing

Publication date 2021

How many children experience neglect?

It’s difficult to measure exactly how many children in the UK experience neglect. However, research with 2,275 young people aged 11-17 about their experiences of neglect suggests around 1 in 10 children in the UK have been neglected.

Adults in a child or young person’s life may not recognise the signs of neglect and the child may be too young, too scared or feel ashamed to tell anyone what is happening to them.

This briefing looks at what data and statistics are available about child neglect to help professionals, and the organisations they work for, make evidence-based decisions. This includes information from different sources such as services that work with children and research into children’s and adults’ self-reported experiences.

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Key findings from the data

  • Neglect is the most common form of abuse.
  • Concerns around neglect have been identified for half of children who are the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register in the UK.
  • The number of police recorded child cruelty offences is increasing.
  • Neglect is the most commonly mentioned form of abuse by adults contacting the NSPCC helpline.

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