Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. If you’re not getting the important things you need at home, you could be being neglected.

What neglect means

There’s a difference between things we want and things we need. Some people might want a new games console. Or a new phone.

But these aren’t things you need. You need things like enough to eat and drink. And protection from danger. And clean clothes. Your parents or carers should make sure you have these things.

You also shouldn't have to spend a lot of time looking after other people in your family without getting any support from an adult.

If you have a disability you should also be supported in whatever extra ways you need.

Every young person needs:

  • clothes that are clean and warm and shoes that fit and keep you dry
  • enough to eat and drink
  • protection from dangerous situations
  • somewhere warm, dry and comfortable to sleep
  • help when you're ill or you've been hurt
  • love and care from your parents or carers
  • support with your education
  • access and help with medication if needed.

Reasons for Neglect

There could be lots of reasons why you are being neglected. Your family may be doing their best. But they might just not have enough money. Maybe someone who looks after you has a problem with alcohol or drugs. Or maybe they are having problems with their physical or mental health.

Whatever is happening is not your fault and you can get help.

Speaking out about neglect

If any of this is happening to you, it's important to tell someone. You might think it's your fault. But it isn't. Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. Sometimes parents and carers can't manage this by themselves.

How can I tell if someone I know is being neglected?

If you think a friend is being neglected, there are things you can do to help them. But it’s not always clear if someone’s experiencing neglect or not. If you’re worried about someone, you could see if you notice any of these things:

  • they seem like they haven’t washed, are dirty or smelly, or their clothes seem dirty
  • they are hungry or asking for other people’s food
  • they often come to school with no lunch money or packed lunch
  • their parents don’t seem to know where they are or what they are doing
  • they often don’t turn up for school, or they often arrive late
  • they don’t seem to have many friends
  • they get sent to school even when they are really unwell

It can be hard to decide how to support your friend if you notice any of these things. Maybe you could start by talking to an adult that you trust.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking your friend about it you can always talk to a Childline counsellor. You could also look at our page on helping a friend for more ideas on how you could support them.

If you're not getting what you need at home you might be experiencing neglect.

Am I being neglected?

It can be hard to work out if you're being neglected. Sometimes parents may not even realise they're neglecting their children. If you're worried about anything to do with neglect, you can contact Childline for a chat with a counsellor any time.