More young people in England aged 11-17 have a Child Protection Plan because of neglect than for the other forms of maltreatment that are officially recognised

Teenage girl sitting on stairs 

More young people have been found to have been neglected during their adolescent years than to have been exposed to other forms of maltreatment within the family through research into their experiences – and international studies show that this holds true across all high-income countries.

Neglect has been linked to many different negative consequences – problems with mental ill health, substance misuse, problems with attendance, behaviour and attainment at school, offending, early sexual activity and running away from home – and has been shown to be as harmful as other forms of maltreatment.

Research suggests neglect during adolescence leads to worse outcomes for young people than neglect that takes place only during earlier childhood. Despite this, until now adolescent neglect has rarely been on the agenda for research or for developments in policy or practice.  

Most of the young people we work with in our services have been neglected by their parents or the adults they live with and we are now conducting a comprehensive programme of research, Understanding Adolescent Neglect, in partnership with the University of York in order to begin to redress the neglect of adolescent neglect – to ensure that it becomes better acknowledged, understood and responded to.

The research programme has been initiated to contribute to the growing body of work around neglect and to introduce findings specific to adolescent neglect. This research builds on our earlier work to investigate the lives of disadvantaged young people - in particular studies of young runaways and safeguarding teenagers (work we did in partnership with The University of York and the NSPCC).

Troubled Teens

Our first study, Troubled Teens, introduces the subject and provides initial findings from a survey of 2000 12-15 year olds.

Read our troubled teens report

Thinking About Adolescent Neglect

This report for the Luton Safeguarding Children Board was published in 2018 to support the development of a strategy to better address adolescent neglect in the area.  It focuses on reviewing the available research including around how to identify and assess neglect and evidence of ‘what works’.


Adolescent Neglect - Briefing for Professionals

This briefing highlights the key issues for frontline professionals who work with young people, parents or families to consider in relation to adolescent neglect. It was commissioned by the Luton SCB to support their work.


Expert advisory group

The research was supported by a group of experts comprising representatives from the Department for Education, the Universities of York and Central Lancashire and the Institute of Education at University College London, a local authority youth services department, an ex-children and families social worker, a local safeguarding children board’s chairperson, and policy and operations colleagues from The Children’s Society.

Research partnership

Academics from the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York worked in partnership with our researchers to develop the research programme over time.