Reducing the Impact of Child Neglect: Professional Connections with Families

Frances Gunn, University of Stirling

When considering connections, one of the most basic and primal human connections is the attachment between a caregiver and child. Evidence indicates that secure attachment motivates caregivers to meet the physical and emotional needs of their child. When, for whatever reason, a child’s needs are not met to the extent that their health, wellbeing or development is impacted, the child is considered to be neglected. 

A literature review, exploring child neglect from a Scottish perspective, highlighted that for families and professionals alike, neglect remains a contentious topic. Evidence suggests that despite neglect being the most common reason in 2019 for a child in Scotland to be placed on the child protection register, and lack of parental care being the most common ground of referral to the Children’s Reporter, professionals find it complex. The literature highlights that professionals find it difficult to both evidence their concerns and effectively discuss concerns with families, which leads to potential for disconnect between family and professional perspective on neglect.  

This article summarises and critiques the multidisciplinary evidence base around child neglect and scrutinises how professional assessment, within Scotland, of child neglect fits with the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) framework. The article then discusses how this supports the move within Scottish policy to a more attachment and connection-based system to reduce the impact of child neglect and enable children to attain their maximum potential.  

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