Survey Shows Social Workers Are Unlikely To Act Quickly On Neglect Cases

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3rd October 2013 13:38 - Health

Research by Community Care and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has revealed child neglect is not a priority for social workers. Three fifths (60%) of respondents said there was pressure to downgrade cases of neglect in their area – to “children in need” rather than children in need of protection.

More than half (59%) of professionals surveyed by Community Care and the NSPCC said they believed it was “quite” or “very” unlikely that local social services would take swift action to protect children who were being neglected. For emotional abuse, this figure rose to seven tenths (72%).

Where physical abuse is concerned, virtually all respondents (96%) said it was “quite” or “very likely” that timely action would be taken in their area, while nine tenths (94%) said the same for cases of sexual abuse.

Yet, despite this, two fifths (61%) of social workers said neglect features in over half of their cases and a third (36%) identified it as a primary concern in over half of their cases.

Social workers said they often feel “powerless” and admitted to lacking confidence when it comes to identifying and responding to child neglect. Almost nine in ten said social workers need more legal support when addressing neglect cases, compared with other forms of child abuse.

Dr Ruth Gardner, the NSPCC's lead for neglect, said:

"Social workers are telling us of a hidden pool of neglect that is not being prioritised as a child protection concern… This is very worrying but social workers are trying to do the right thing, so we want this to be a wake-up call for the whole child protection system."

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