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Physical and Behavioural Signs


Neglect is defined as the failure to provide a person/child with adequate levels of food, drink, clothing, shelter, medial care or supervision such that the child’s physical and/or mental health is harmed or placed at serious risk. Physical signs include:

  • Appearing consistently dirty and unwashed

  • Being consistently inappropriately dressed for weather conditions

  • Being consistently hungry, tired, and listless

  • Having unattended health problems and lack of routine medical care

  • Having inadequate shelter and unsafe or unsanitary conditions.

  • Being at risk of injury or harm due to consistent lack of adequate supervision from parents


  • Gorging when food is available or inability to eat when extremely hungry

  • Begging for or stealing food

  • Appearing withdrawn, listless, pale, and weak

  • Aggressive behaviour or irritability

  • Involvement in criminal activity

  • Little positive interaction with a parent, carer, or guardian

  • Poor socialising habits

  • Excessive friendliness towards strangers

  • Indiscriminate acts of affection

  • Poor, irregular, or non-attendance at school

  • Staying at school for long hours and refusing or being reluctant to go home

  • Self-destructive behaviour

  • Taking on an adult role of caring for parents.