The identification and reporting of child neglect among professionals and the general public

Bullock, Lydia (2019) The identification and reporting of child neglect among professionals and the general public. DForenPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB)


Background: Child neglect remains a challenge for professionals and the general public to identify and effectively respond to. This thesis provides a broad investigation into professionals and the public’s ability to identify and respond to child neglect. In particular exploring how different facets of child neglect impact on identification/taking action.

Aims and Objectives: The main aims of this thesis was to explore and expand the current understanding of factors that impact on professionals and the public identifying and responding to child neglect. The four questions were;

1. What is the current literature on factors that impact on professionals’ reporting/responding to child neglect? (Chapter two).

2. What factors impact on family support workers, primary school teachers, and public’s ability to identify and respond to child neglect and are they any differences dependent on participant group? (Chapter three).

3. What are the experiences and difficulties of working with child neglect identified by family support workers and primary school teachers? (Chapter four).

4. Is the Family Star (Early Years) (Burns, MacKeith and Greaves, 2015) a suitable tool to support family support workers in identifying and responding to child neglect? (Chapter five).

Method: To answer the first research question a systematic review was completed to explore current literature on what factors impact on professionals’ reporting of child neglect (Chapter two). An empirical research study using quantitative measures was used to explore and compare the general public, family support workers and primary school teacher’s identification and reporting/taking action when presented with child neglect vignettes (Chapter three). An empirical research study using qualitative measures was used to explore family support workers and primary school teachers’ experiences and attitudes towards reporting or taking action when neglect is identified (Chapter four). When professionals have concerns about neglect a framework for assessment can be used to help identify neglect and support them in the most appropriate response. A methodological critique was therefore conducted to explore the psychometric properties of the Family Star (Early Years), a tool commonly used by family support workers to help identify child neglect and signpost where appropriate intervention is necessary (Chapter five).

Overall findings: The systematic review (Chapter two) identified both positive and negative factors that influenced reporting tendencies. Perceived seriousness, correct identification of neglect, and correct knowledge and understanding of mandatory reporting laws have consistently been found to improve reporting tendencies. Negative factors affecting reporting were a lack of knowledge about child neglect, or perceived lack of evidence to report. Results were however inconsistent across papers (e.g. training impacting on reporting tendencies).

The results from the quantitative primary study (Chapter three) showed that overall professionals were significantly more likely to report than the general public, physical neglect was seen as significantly more serious and likely to be reported by all participants compare to emotional neglect. Factors that increased the likelihood of reporting were perceived seriousness and how worrying the vignette was.

The results from the qualitative primary study (Chapter four) showed that early intervention when child neglect was identified was not common practice. Emotional neglect was often deemed ‘not serious enough’ to report, professionals struggled with policies/funding and multi-agency working that made it difficult for them to respond in every case of child neglect.

The methodological critique of the Family Star (Early Years) identified theoretical support for the outcomes used to identify areas of child neglect, however there remains very little evidence to support its validity and reliability.

Conclusion: Professionals and the general public continue to find child neglect, in particular emotional neglect, difficult to identify and are less likely to respond when it is identified. A better understanding into the serious consequences of emotional neglect, as well as better support for professionals to be able to respond effectively are needed to ensure the continuing protection of children vulnerable to neglect.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DForenPsy)
Supervisors: Chou, Shihning
Glaser, Danya
Keywords: Child neglect; Identification and reporting; Reporting tendencies
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 55482
Depositing User: Bullock, Lydia
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2019 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 12:00

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View