Problem of Child Neglect in Northern Ireland Tackled in Major Conference

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A MAJOR conference has been held in Belfast on the consequences of neglect on the development of children and young people.

The conference, which was held at the Skainos Centre recently, was organised by the Belfast Area Safeguarding Panel (BASP) with the support of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI).

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse and is defined as the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs such as ensuring adequate food, clothing, hygiene, supervision, shelter or emotional needs.

In 2016/17 the NSPCC was contacted on average 53 times a day by adults from across the UK concerned about child neglect. The 19,448 calls and emails over the year was the highest number the NSPCC has ever received with 87% of those contacts (16,882) serious enough to be referred to social services or the police for further investigation.

Leading Specialists

Leading neglect specialists from across the UK contributed to the Northern Ireland conference including Dr Jenny Molloy, author of acclaimed first-hand account of neglect and the care system ‘Hackney Child,’ who shared her personal experience of living with neglect.

Bronagh Muldoon, NSPCC Belfast Service Centre Manager said: “The conference offered an ideal opportunity to hear from leading contributors in the field of neglect, but we were also able to ask those attending to share their views and experiences of how to best respond to this problem.

“It meant we could share valuable insights as those of us who support families deal with this issue day to day.”

Multi-Agency Strategy

Speaking at the event Bernie McNally Chair of SBNI said, “As part of addressing the continuing safeguarding challenges around neglect and as part of SBNIs multi-agency strategy to address neglect, I am delighted to join with colleagues from across our member agencies and community partners to explore responses and share experience of tackling neglect.”

Also speaking was Godfrey Young, Interim Head of Child Protection Support Service, Education Authority Northern Ireland, who said: “We are delighted that the Education Authority Northern Ireland have been able to contribute to the event along with health and voluntary sector partners. It is the learning shared and multi-agency partnerships that we share that we can best respond to the issue of neglect and the needs of children and young people.”

Carol Diffin, Co-Director, Family and Child Care at the Belfast Trust commented: “By bringing a range of inspiring and authoritative contributors on neglect to the conference we can help stimulate discussion and continue to identify best practice to respond to the challenges neglect provides to all of us involved in safeguarding children and supporting families to address neglect earlier.”

The feedback gathered from practitioners at the event will be used by the Belfast Area Safeguarding Panel to inform and shape future actions on the issue in line with the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland’s Multi-Agency Neglect Strategy 2017-2022.