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Law call on child emotional cruelty

Nearly seven in 10 police officers think that child neglect law needs to change so people who are emotionally cruel to children can be prosecuted.

A small poll of 201 officers in England and Wales found that 69% believe emotional neglect of a child should be a criminal offence, charity Action for Children said.

The charity is campaigning for "outdated" child neglect law to be changed.

Current neglect legislation, which is 80 years old, only covers physical harm and not emotional cruelty, the charity said.

Parents or carers who emotionally neglect and abuse children - for instance by exposing a child to domestic violence, humiliating them or rejecting them - do not face any criminal sanctions for their actions.

The charity said that emotional neglect or abuse can have a "devastating impact" on children.

"For the vast majority of families where neglect is a concern, support can turn things around and create a safe home in which children can thrive," said Action for Children's chief executive, Dame Clare Tickell.

"For cases at the most severe end of the spectrum, however, the law must be in tune with modern considerations of neglect. This is absolutely necessary for a consistent approach from all agencies concerned with child welfare.

"Action for Children has had very positive discussions with the Government about this issue and we're hopeful they will take this urgent and important issue forward."

MP Mark Williams is leading a Private Member's Bill which aims to protect children "more effectively" in the most serious cases of neglect, a charity spokeswoman said. The Child Maltreatment Private Member's Bill is due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on November 22.

Mr Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion said: "The law, as it is, fails to protect some of the most vulnerable children throughout England and Wales. If the Government is really serious about safeguarding children, the law has to be changed."


From Belfast Telegraph