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Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic and/or psychological needs, this is likely to result in the serious impairment of a child’s health or development. There are two types of neglect, active and passive.

Active neglect refers to behaviour that is willful, where the caregiver intentionally withholds care or necessities.
Passive neglect refers to situations in which the caregiver is unable to fulfil his or her caregiving responsibilities whether caused by illness, ignorance, stress or lack of resources. It may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse, involve a carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing.

Examples of neglect include:

• Failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing
• Failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger
• Failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
• Unresponsive to a child’s basic emotional needs

There are a number of symptoms that a child can present that could indicate neglect. These include:

• Hungry all the time
• Poor personal hygiene
• The poor state of clothing
• Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school
• Untreated injuries/medical problems
• Emotional distress, crying, depression, despair, nightmares and difficulty sleeping
• They may also exhibit fear towards the caregiver

The Act of omission is when anyone knows that abuse of any description is taking place and yet they fail to report it. Indicators of neglect can be poor personal hygiene, including soiled clothing, dirty nails and skin, matted or lice infected hair, odours and the presence of faeces or urine.