Poll reveals child neglect worries
Both professionals and the public feel powerless to help in suspected cases of child neglect, campaigners have warned.
More than half of social workers and a third of police officers felt powerless to intervene while less than two-thirds of the public who had concerns had told someone else, surveys showed.
Action for Children called for the Government to increase families' access to support and encourage parents and the public to act early on signs of neglect.
Dame Clare Tickell, the charity's chief executive, said: "Neglect corrodes childhoods, robbing the most vulnerable children of hope, happiness and life chances.
"All our findings point to the stark reality that neglected children and their parents are being identified, but neither the professionals nor the public feel empowered to help or intervene, particularly at the early stages.
"When it comes to child neglect the reality is we are only tackling the tip of the iceberg, and there are many thousands out there in desperate need. We are currently missing critical opportunities to help and putting valued professionals in an impossible position."
Professor Corinne May-Chahal, co-chairwoman of The College of Social Work, added: "The point at which social workers can intervene in cases of neglect is too high. This high threshold allows the challenges families face to deteriorate to the point where they need urgent help.
"Even when a child has been identified as being neglected, social workers struggle to get them the support they need due to a lack of time or resources. The system, in its current state, falls short in providing the safety and security neglected children need."
A YouGov poll of almost 300 social workers found 51% felt "powerless" to intervene in cases of child neglect while a survey of almost 250 police officers found 36% felt the same.
More than half (52%) of over 2,000 adults polled said they had had concerns about child neglect, but just 62% had told someone else, with the others worrying about a lack of evidence and more than a third wanting more information on who to contact.