Teenage 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 review uses a ‘rapid review’ methodology to evaluate the scientific literature the self-reported features of adolescents aged 13 – 17 completed years who are experiencing any form of neglect including physical, emotional, supervisory, medical, educational or nutritional and / or emotional maltreatment (EM) published up until March 2022 and reflects the findings of eligible studies. The review aims to answer the following clinical question:

    • What are the self-reported or self-rated features of a child (13-17 completed years) currently experiencing neglect and/or emotional maltreatment in OECD countries?

The 2022 update did not identify any new evidence for inclusion.

Key findings:

    • Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, but frequently goes unrecognised within the adolescent population. In a survey of children aged 11-17 in the UK, 13.4% described severe maltreatment.
    • Although much emphasis is placed on the maltreatment of younger children, in a study of serious case reviews in the UK 18% of those fatally or seriously maltreated were older than 14 years.
    • There is increasing recognition of the prevalence of emotional abuse and this is the second most common reason for children to be placed on the child protection register in the UK and the third most common reason in the US.
Disclaimer: This is a summary of the systematic review findings from 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 July 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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