Working With Children Who Have Experienced Neglect: Good Practice Guide

Vicky Sharley*, Alyson Rees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be placed on a child protection plan in the UK. In 2020, 26,010 children were registered under the category of neglect in England and a further 995 in Wales (NSPCC, 2021a). These figures account for 50 per cent of all child protection plans in England and 43 per cent of all child protection registrations in Wales. It is thought that around 1 in 10 children in the UK have been neglected (NSPCC, 2021a). In 2019, neglect was the most common form of harm for adolescents who were on the child protection register or subject to a child protection plan in England and Northern Ireland (and the second most common in Wales and Scotland) (NSPCC, 2020). There is also a
clear intersection between neglect and emotional abuse; Gardner notes that: ‘there is overlap between many forms of child maltreatment and this is especially true of neglect’ (2008, p.15). Responding effectively to child neglect and supporting children who are living with or have experienced neglect – whether in the care of their parents or family members, or in foster, adoptive or residential care – is widely acknowledged as a complex and challenging task for social
workers and other practitioners. It often takes time, perseverance and the gathering of substantial information and evidence. During 2014–2017, neglect was present in nearly three-quarters of all serious case reviews into the death or serious harm of children (Brandon et al, 2020). Lessons from these reviews consistently offer the same messages and learning for practice, emphasising the biggest challenges for responding successfully to neglect to be productive and effective interprofessional communication, and information sharing across services (Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (CSPRP), 2020). So why is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment so difficult to respond to in practice? What are the common challenges experienced by practitioners in providing the appropriate level of support to children living with neglect? How do we achieve effective practice in a timely and helpful manner that meets a child’s needs and ensures they are
sufficiently protected from harm? This book explores nine key themes that aim to unpick the complexity of working with child neglect in the form of an accessible good practice guide. The practice guide offers a summary of key messages for frontline practitioners in a clear and easy to digest format. It is intended to be used as a “go to” desk resource for busy practitioners and students working within a wide range of services that are responsible for safeguarding and protecting children and young people who are living with, or have experienced, neglect, and those who are in the process of receiving support for, or recovering from its impact.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages140
ISBN (Print)978 1 913384 21 0
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameGood Practice Guides
PublisherCoram BAAF

Bibliographical note

Victoria Sharley is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work with Children and Families in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. Victoria has a PhD in identifying and responding to child neglect in the context of interprofessional practice with schools and is a registered social worker with a background in child and family social work, having worked in child protection, youth justice, and domestic violence and abuse services. Victoria is the Programme Director for the MSc in Social Work at the University of Bristol and a member of the Children and Families’ Research Centre.

Structured keywords

  • SPS Children and Families Research Centre


  • neglect
  • children


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