Knowing the signs of neglect
Neglect can be difficult to identify, but there are a number of signs you can look out for.
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Neglect is when an adult fails to meet a child or young person’s basic needs. This can be difficult to identify, and recognising one of the signs of neglect does not necessarily mean you are being neglected. However, if you recognise a number of these signs, and if it is something that has been happening on an ongoing basis almost all the time, then there could be a serious problem.
Do you need someone to talk to right now? SpunOut.ie’s text message support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We provide in-the-moment anonymous support and problem solving when you need it most.
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Signs of neglect
- You sometimes come home and find there’s no food.
- Your parents never bring you to the doctor even if you feel seriously ill.
- You’re often left alone for a long time (not just when your mother has gone shopping) and don’t know where your parents are or don’t know when they will return.
- You spend a lot of time minding younger brothers or sisters because your parents don’t want to do it, aren’t able to, or aren’t there to do it. (You’re probably expected to help mind them sometimes but it shouldn’t be all the time).
- You don’t have a warm jacket in winter or you grow out of your clothes and they are not replaced with new clothes that fit.
- You have no heating at home/
- There is a lack of furniture in your home, such as no bed and/or bedding (sheets, duvet) to sleep in.
- Your clothes are often dirty and unwashed.
- You rarely have breakfast or lunch, and you are always hungry.
- You always eat unhealthy food, such as chips every evening, instead of proper dinners.
- You feel like you have difficulty communicating with other people.
What to do if you think you or someone you know is being neglected
- Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on and let them know your concerns.
- Contact your local TUSLA duty social worker to report the case of neglect.
- It can be very difficult to speak about what’s happening. If you can’t tell anyone that you know, SpunOut.ie’s text message support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We provide in-the-moment anonymous support and problem solving when you need it most. Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to begin. Standard SMS rates may apply.
- Sometimes the person neglecting you will threaten to harm you if you tell anyone what’s happening. This is a way of frightening you into silence. If you tell the Gardaí or social worker they can help to make arrangements that you and other family members are safe from harm.
- Telling someone you’re being abused or neglected doesn’t mean that you’ll be taken away from your family. Social services will try to work out a situation that means you are safe from abuse, where they can support your family to ensure your needs are met but still remain with your family.
- Even after the abuse has stopped you might have emotional or self-confidence problems. You can visit a counsellor to help you cope with your feelings.