More than a quarter of British parents with a child under the age of 18 think that children are more likely to be neglected in the summer holidays than term time, according to new figures from our poll on behalf of charity Action for Children.

The poll of over 2,000 British parents found that more than one in ten are going as far as feeding other people’s children and just under one in ten are having them to stay in the holidays, fearing that they aren’t being fed or looked after properly at home.

  • 26% of parents questioned said that children are more likely to be neglected in the summer holidays than in term time
  • Dads agreed more than mums, with 29% agreeing, compared to 24% of mums asked
  • 23% of parents surveyed have worried that their children’s friends were being neglected during the summer holidays
  • Parents in the north of the country have been particularly concerned, with just over 1 in 4 (26%) saying that they have worried
  • 14% of parents with a child under the age of 18 have fed a child (other than their own) during the school holidays because they weren’t sure they were being fed properly at home
  • Parents in northern regions have dished up extra food more than most (17%)
  • And 9% of all parents surveyed have had another child over to stay the night in the school holidays because they weren’t sure they were being looked after properly at home, with London parents getting out the sleeping bags the most (14%)
  • 1 in 10 (10%) parents surveyed have taken another child on a family trip/outing in the school holidays because they weren’t sure they were being looked after properly
  • 15% of mums surveyed have cared for a child other than their own, because they thought they were being neglected at home; parents in Wales are most likely to have done this (17%)

It is estimated that up to 10% of all children in Britain are neglected; failing to receive the right care and attention, including enough food, clean clothes, safety and security, warmth and love. Action for Children fears that the long summer holidays can lead to an increase in problems faced by neglected children, as they lose the routine, structure and regular meals provided by schools in term time.

Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, commented; ‘Without the security of schools providing basic things like a hot meal, neglected children often face 6 weeks of little structure and no break from problems at home. Clearly schools can't, and shouldn't, be relied on to help in this way throughout the year.

We are calling on the Government to 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 a lifeline for our most vulnerable children, and their families.’

Action for Children is campaigning to improve the way child neglect is tackled, highlighting the importance of intervening early to help. The charity is visiting various parts of the UK this week, encouraging people to sign up to a petition calling on the Government to the issue.

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