The following is from The Guardian newspaper its a sobering article that raises many issues that we as a society really do need to address as a matter of urgency .
The mental health / well-being issues alone makes one shudder !
One of the UK's leading children's charities has issued a warning that the child protection system is failing neglected children , more often than not with fatal consequences, this despite the number of children being placed on protection plans for neglect rising by almost 30% in five years.
Neglect can take many forms, such as withholding water and food from a child, depriving them of play, barring them from attending school or keeping them in badly heated rooms in filthy clothes. Research suggests it is often closely linked to – sometimes a major factor in – cases involving child mortality. Neglect in early life has also been blamed for causing later developmental and mental-health problems.
In 2005, 13,200 children in England were on such a plan. Figures show this increased to 16,900 last year – more than double the number of children who were on protection plans because of fears they were being physically or sexually abused.
The NSPCC said it was concerned that social workers were failing to act when they came across children who were showing signs of neglect. Research into the deaths of neglected children suggests that the average length of time between the first concern of neglect being raised and the child's demise is 13 months.
The NSPCC research was based on a sample of an Ofsted analysis into the deaths of 174 children last year, which found neglect at some point in the lives of 50 of those who had died. Most cases involved children under six years old. Ten babies died of sudden unexpected death in infancy, of whom seven were known to children's services. Many of the deaths of neglected children were linked to parental alcohol and drug abuse.
"Neglect is a neglected problem," said Diana Sutton, head of policy and public affairs at the NSPCC. "The problem is that neglect cases tend just to drift. There is a need to strike a balance between keeping the family together and taking the children away."
The NSPCC claims that there is a "skill gap" among professionals working with cases of neglect. It says many are ill-equipped to deal with early signs of neglect and as a result sometimes it is not until children are abused before formal intervention takes place. One of the cases examined by the NSPCC was that of three-year-old Tiffany Wright from Sheffield, who starved to death after being left locked in a bedroom above the pub run by her mother and stepfather.
A court heard that Tiffany's mother, Sabrina Hirst, 22, who was jailed for 12 years after admitting manslaughter, showed more concern for the family's pet dog than her daughter. Concerns that Tiffany was being neglected were first raised by a midwife in October 2006. A letter from social services was sent to the family, but there was no follow-up home visit by social workers. Tiffany died in September 2007.
The NSPCC is calling for the government to give child protection teams clear time-lines for parents to improve the care of their children. It suggests that if there is insufficient improvement within a set period, which would typically be 90 days, social workers should consider taking action to remove the child from the family. A government-endorsed report into child protection, written by Lord Laming, has recommended that "realistic time scales need to be applied to ensure that a child is not subjected to long-term neglect".
The NSPCC will launch a campaign to make tackling neglect a higher political priority at the next election. "One of our concerns is that frontline child protection will experience cuts or a freeze," Sutton said. "As an issue, it has come off the political agenda since the public panic over Baby P."
There are calls for the courts to take a tougher line on child neglect. The Law Commission has proposed that courts should have the power to jail parents convicted of child neglect for life, rather than the current 10-year maximum.
The government has six months to respond to the proposals.