If you are not being kept safe, helped to go to school or do not have the things you need such as clean clothes, food or somewhere comfy to sleep, then this is neglect.

This content has been written for children and young people. If you’re looking for information for over 18s, visit our information about supporting children and young people.

It’s important to remember that neglect is never your fault and it’s not okay. The people who look after you may have problems with money, drugs, alcohol or mental health, and may need some help, but you still have the right to be looked after. You may also find you are left alone for long periods of time, or spend lots of time looking after brothers or sisters.

Two friends chatting.

Neglect can make you feel worried, sad, scared or angry, especially if you feel like you’re trying to deal with it all on your own. Lots of young people find that it can help if they talk to someone. Some things you can do are:

  • Tell an adult you trust – this could be a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation; we have some tips on asking for help.
  • You could develop a safety plan with an adult you trust, which would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
  • Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult.
  • Think about reporting it to the police. If you are at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999.

If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help

It can be hard if you are struggling to keep your clothes clean, or you have no money. You might be worried about what other people may think of you and your family, and it might feel embarrassing to say that you need help. But it is important that you and your family get the support you need. The best way to get this help is by talking to an adult you trust.

If you tell someone that you are being neglected it doesn’t automatically mean you will be taken into care. It is a really big decision for people like social workers and the courts to put a young person into care, and they will only do this if they believe it to be the safest option for you and your family. Social workers can offer some really good practical support to help you and your family and things will improve.

Victim Support’s Children and Young People Services – you can contact your nearest Victim Support office, call the 24/7 Supportline, contact us via live chat, or if you are 16 or older, you can create a My Support Space account. This is a free, safe and secure online space where you can work through interactive guides to help you move forward after crime.

Childline – 24-hour support for young people, both on the phone and through online chats and message boards, on physical, sexual and emotional abuse and a range of other issues: 0800 1111.

The Mix – information and support for under 25s on a whole range of issues. Get confidential help by email, text, webchat or phone: 0808 808 4994.

Young Minds – information and advice on dealing with abuse.