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Child Neglect
UK News

Child neglect is "rife", says Christian children's charity

A Methodist Church based children's charity has accused the government of failing to implement a proper strategy to tackle child neglect, which it claims currently affects more than 1.5milllion children in the UK.

A new study by Action for Children (AFC) has also revealed three-quarters of children in the UK know another child who is suffering from neglect.

It comes as another damning report by the state's official body for inspecting schools has found some neglected children in England are being left to suffer, because their parents are being given too many chances by social services.

The Ofsted study has looked at cases across the country and found a "mixed picture" in how they are dealt with.

Action for Children says it would like to see "practical measures" to be included in a strategy, including a web portal where people can report concerns about children and systems allowing accurate birth data to be collected.

Hannah Dobbin from the charity told Premier's News Hour that churches also have a part to play in helping to improve the problem.

AFC says neglect is the most frequent reason for a child protection referral to social services and features in 60 percent of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.

The organisation's report has also revealed children believe consistent relationships with skilled professionals are key, with 47 percent saying a safe adult to talk to would help a child they had been worried about.

Sixty-five percent of social workers said cuts had impeded their ability to intervene in cases, with 73 percent saying public spending cuts will make it more difficult to intervene in the future.

An official from the Department for Education said the report "highlights the devastating consequences neglect can have on vulnerable children, which is why we've been clear that anyone working with children should take swift action when alerted to the early signs of abuse and neglect".

A DfE statement said: "We are reforming child protection so social workers have the skills and space to better use their professional judgement, and have appointed a chief social worker to ensure the very best practice prevails.

"We're already on track to deliver on a number of the report's key recommendations, such as overhauling the training and education for social workers following [government adviser] Sir Martin Narey's review, giving trainees the expertise they need in critical areas like neglect.

"We have also given the NSPCC over £11m to run a comprehensive 24/7 advice and reporting service for those who have concerns about a child, and are developing training materials with the sector to help improve practice in this area."

This is the fifth year Action for Children has published research about neglect, based on conversations with more than 18,000 people, including 4,000 children.

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