Parents 'worry' over child neglect
Parents are feeding other people's children and inviting them to stay during the holidays amid concerns that they are neglected at home, a poll has suggested.
One in four parents said children are more likely to be neglected during the school holidays than during term time.
And one in ten (10%) admitted they have cared for a child in the school holidays that was not their own because they thought they were not being properly looked after at home.
The Action For Children poll questioned 2,000 parents with a child aged under 18 about their concerns for other people's children during the summer holidays.
The findings show that one in seven parents (14%) say they have had someone else's child over for a meal in the holidays because they were not sure that the youngster was being fed properly at their own house, while 10% said they had taken another child on a family trip or outing.
And nearly one in ten (9%) admitted that they had a child over to stay during the summer because they were worried about neglect. Overall, 26% of the parents quizzed said children are more likely to be neglected in the summer holidays than in term time.
Almost two thirds (63%) said it made no difference if it was term time or the holidays. Nearly one in four (23%) said they had worried at least "a little" that their children's friends were being neglected during the holidays.
Action for Children said research estimates that up to one in ten of all children in Britain are neglected through lack of food, clean clothes, safety, security, warmth, care and attention. The charity is raising concerns that the long summer holidays can worsen the problems for neglected children as they do not have the routine, structure and meals provided by schools.
Chief executive Clare Tickell said: "No child should ever feel lonely, hungry or worthless, but once the school gates have closed for the summer holidays that is exactly how many of the 1.5 million neglected children in Britain are left feeling.
"The Government must help to tackle neglect within families, and give councils a clear signal not to cut play schemes and activities for children in the summer holidays - they may look like easy cuts to make but they are vital for our most vulnerable children, and their families."