Critical Information

What is neglect?

Neglect includes a failure to provide the child with an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent that the health or physical development of the child is significantly impaired or placed at serious risk.

In some circumstances the neglect of a child:

  • can place the child’s immediate safety and development at serious risk
  • may not immediately compromise the safety of the child, but is likely to result in longer term cumulative harm.

Both these forms of neglect must be responded to via the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse.

What are the physical indicators of neglect?

PHYSICAL indicators of neglect include (but are not limited to):

  • appearing consistently dirty and unwashed
  • being consistently inappropriately dressed for weather conditions
  • being at risk of injury or harm due to consistent lack of adequate supervision from parents
  • being consistently hungry, tired and listless
  • having unattended health problems and lack of routine medical care
  • having inadequate shelter and unsafe or unsanitary conditions

What are the behavioural indicators of neglect?

BEHAVIOURAL indicators of neglect include (but are not limited to):

  • gorging when food is available or inability to eat when extremely hungry
  • begging for or stealing food
  • appearing withdrawn, listless, pale and weak
  • aggressive behaviour, irritability
  • involvement in criminal activity
  • little positive interaction with parent, carer or guardian
  • poor socialising habits
  • excessive friendliness towards strangers
  • indiscriminate acts of affection
  • poor, irregular or non-attendance at school
  • staying at school for long hours and refusing or being reluctant to go home
  • self-destructive behaviour
  • taking on an adult role of caring for parent