Introduction to Issues for Health
and Social Care in Neglect
Neglect is now recognized as leading to significantly poor outcomes for children in the short and long term. It is also known to co-exist with other forms of abuse and adversity. At the same time, the child protection system struggles to find an appropriate response to neglect which is often chronic and associated with poverty and material deprivation. In part, we suggest, this is because neglect exemplifies some of the wider tensions within the current system.
We consider that the case has been made that neglect is harmful to children and therefore we do not give extensive coverage in this book to delineating the effects on children (Dubowitz et al. 1993; Gaudin 1993; Stevenson 1998a). We also recognize that practitioners are concerned about the well-being of children who are neglected and, on the whole, do not need to be persuaded that neglect can be harmful. However, practitioners still lack a coherent set of effective responses and therefore the aim of this book is to draw together theoretical and research-based information to help improve practice on behalf of children who are neglected. We also suggest that effective responses to neglect can provide a model for developing more effective protection and support for all children who are considered to be in need of support and in need of protection. If we can find a way to respond effectively to neglect, then we can get it right for all children.
We begin with a broad overview of issues of context, definition and recognition of neglect. We go on to consider the complexity of the complementary roles and responsibilities of different agencies and disciplines. We then cover specific issues that are known to be of particular relevance to neglect before we broaden out again into consideration of the evidence about what works with neglect. In the final chapter we bring all the practice suggestions together and cluster them into themes.