A children's charity has called for the law on child neglect to be overhauled.
Action for Children claims the current law focuses too much on prosecuting parents rather than on intervening to protect children from harm.
A survey for the charity suggests many parents are unclear about their legal responsibilities to children.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said the government had made it clear that services must act more swiftly to safeguard children.
The 1933 Children and Young Persons Act, England and Wales, makes it a criminal offence to fail to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, medical aid or lodging - but the charity says that modern conceptions of neglect also include emotional and educational issues.
It is calling on the government to order a review of the law during this Parliament.
Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children said: "Neglect is the most common form of child abuse affecting children in the UK yet we have an outdated law which does not reflect what we now understand children need and what neglect actually is
Long overdue or a waste of money?
Very worrying that some parents are unclear on their legal responsibilites to their children!