The Cinderella Law
Charity 'Action for Children' have been campaigning for a "Cinderella Law".
In response perhaps, the Government now say that being cruel to a child is a punishable crime and is considering whether to introduce a new offence of ‘emotional cruelty to children'.
For the first time parents who deny their children affection may face prosecution whereas previous to this only physical harm was actually unlawful.
Social workers do have a definition of child cruelty that they work to, but because it is not written into specific law, this makes it difficult for the police to gather evidence. The bill would add a further category of harm for which the perpetrator could be punished: impairment of "physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development".
Emotional cruelty or child neglect can be described as the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs. It is now being recognised that this can lead to life-long mental health problems and, in some cases, to suicide. however, we are also now discovering ways for the adult to effectively heal form this damage.
Sir Tony Hawk, head chief of Action for Children's said the change would be a "monumental step forward for thousands of children".
Robert Buckland, a Conservative MP who has backed the charity's campaign told BBC Radio 5 live that "You can look at a range of behaviors, from ignoring a child's presence, failing to healthily stimulate a child, right through to acts of in fact terrorising a child - where the child might be frightened to disclose what is happening to them,"
He said the new law 'would not criminalise parents for being 'nasty, but for actual criminal behaviour.'