Children may be in need of protection where their basic needs are not being met in a manner appropriate to their age and stage of development, and they will be at risk through avoidable acts of commission or omission on the part of their parent(s), sibling(s) or other relative(s), or a carer (i.e. the person(s) while not a parent who has actual custody of a child).
To define an act or omission as abusive and/or presenting future risk (for the purpose of registration) a number of elements must be taken into account. These include demonstrable or predictable harm to the child which must have been avoidable because of action or inaction by the parent or other carer.
This occurs when a child's essential needs are not met and this is likely to cause impairment to physical health and development. Such needs include food, clothing, cleanliness, shelter and warmth. It may also include neglect of, or failure to respond to, a child’s basic emotional needs. A lack of appropriate care results in persistent or severe exposure, through negligence, to circumstances which endanger the child.
Physical neglect may also include a failure to secure appropriate medical treatment for the child or young person, or when an adult carer persistently pursues or allows the child or young person to follow a lifestyle inappropriate to the child or young person's developmental needs or which jeopardises the child or young person's health.
Signs of possible physical neglect are:
- constant hunger;
- poor personal hygiene;
- constant tiredness;
- poor state of clothing;
- frequent lateness and/or unexplained non-attendance at school;
- untreated medical/health/dental problems;
- low self-esteem;
- poor peer relationships; and/or
- excessive passivity.