School-aged neglect: systematic review

Child Protection Evidence is a resource for clinicians across the UK and internationally to inform clinical practice, child protection procedures and professional and expert opinion in the legal system.


This systematic review evaluates the scientific literature on experiencing any form of neglect including physical, emotional, supervisory, medical, educational or nutritional and / or emotional abuse in children aged 5 to 14 years published up until June 2021 and reflects the findings of eligible studies. The review aims to answer the following clinical question:

    • What features, (excluding serological markers), are identifiable in school-aged children who are experiencing physical / emotional / supervisory / medical / educational / nutritional neglect and / or emotional abuse?

Key findings:

    • Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, but frequently goes unrecognized within the school-aged population
    • Education staff observes children on an almost daily basis, and are well placed to identify neglect in this age group (NSPCC Safeguarding in Education Service April 2013). In addition emotional abuse (EA) is prevalent in this age group, frequently overlapping with neglect as a form of emotional maltreatment
    • Neglect or emotional maltreatment in this age group have lasting consequences for young people’s physical and mental health
Disclaimer: This is a summary of the systematic review findings up to the date of our most recent literature search. If you have a specific clinical case, we strongly recommend you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside our search dates.

Original reviews and content © Cardiff University, funded by NSPCC

Updates and new material by RCPCH March 2022

While the format of each review has been revised to fit the style of the College and amalgamated into a comprehensive document, the content remains unchanged until reviewed and new evidence is identified and added to the evidence-base. Updated content will be indicated on individual review pages.

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