NSPCC - How you can help spot neglect of a child

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The NSPCC’s Local Campaigns Manager Emma Motherwell looks back on two months of the charity’s Neglect Matters campaign in Bedfordshire, and lets you know how you can help bring an end to child neglect.

Over two months, we’ve shared information with readers about what child neglect is, how it impacts young people’s health and wellbeing, who can be

affected, and how to spot the signs.

We know that preventing child neglect requires action from everyone – parents, communities, local authorities and government – and we have to work together to help children thrive.

In my final column, I’ll be looking at how the NSPCC works to bring an end to child neglect, where parents can go for support, and how people in Bedfordshire

can help…

In Bedfordshire, free NSPCC Neglect Awareness sessions are available to any local organisation at their place of work until March 2019.

The session educates professionals about the signs of neglect and how to help, and is ideal for staff who come into frequent contact with families and children, such as those working in libraries, leisure centres and support roles in children’s centres.

Social workers at Central Bedfordshire Council are some of the first in the country to use a pioneering NSPCC tool, which helps them measure the quality of care being given to a child, and spot anything that’s putting that child at risk of harm.

Practitioners are specially trained to use the tool – called the Graded Care Profile 2 – and use it to assess families in their own homes and draw up plans to help them look after their children better.

On top of this, volunteers for the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe service teach thousands of Bedfordshire primary school children every year to recognise and report neglect through age-appropriate safeguarding assemblies and workshops.

Pupils are taught to speak out if they are worried, either to a trusted adult or to Childline.

Volunteers spoke to 11,329 children in Bedfordshire this academic year (2017- 18), delivering assemblies to 50 schools in the county.

While it’s brilliant that local professionals are specially trained to recognise neglect and work to solve it, it helps if the community knows what to look out for too.

There’s no definite checklist for spotting neglect, but the persistent combination of a range of signs may be a cause for concern. Children who are being neglected will often behave unusually; they might be withdrawn, anxious or aggressive, they might have trouble sleeping, wet the bed or have nightmares.

Their eating habits might noticeably change, or they might be missing school, wearing dirty clothes, drinking or taking drugs.

These are just a handful of examples of the warning signs, and it is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC

Helpline for advice.

If you are worried that a child is being neglected, or you are a parent under pressure, the NSPCC’s Helpline is there 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000 or help@nspcc.org.uk.

To request to host an NSPCC Neglect Awareness session at your workplace or organisation, email emma.motherwell@nspcc.org.uk.

For safeguarding training for professionals after March 2019, get in touch with your Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, or visit NSPCC Learning for resources and other training opportunities.

For more information about Speak Out Stay Safe, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/services-and-resources/working-with-schools.