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Liberal MP hopes to make emotional neglect of children a crime

Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has tabled a private member’s bill which would extend the current legal definition of child neglect to include emotional abuse.

Currently, the legal definition of child neglect includes only physical harm only.

The Ceredigion MP said:

“Experts suggest psychological neglect is the most destructive form of abuse, yet the police are powerless to intervene.”

Constant humiliation and similar behaviour would be subject to prosecution under the proposed changes. The wording of the bill was prepared by charity Action for Children. Head of campaigns Matthew Downie said:

“Action for Children has long been leading the campaign to update the law on child neglect. The criminal law on child neglect is only appropriate for use in the most severe cases of child neglect, where all efforts have been made to help parents and carers make changes and to keep families together. Sadly however, we know that in a small number of cases there are parents who intend to harm their children – and the current law fails to protect children from the full range of that harm.”

The bill is due for debate in parliament on 12 July, Children & Young People Now reports.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Ailsa says:

    I am wholly supportive of this initiative as I have seen first hand how parents use children as pawns in their attempts to attack ex partners and how little caring parents can do about it. If there is any forum to publicly support this and get it made law I would be keen to know about it!

  2. JamesB says:

    I agree with it too. Emotional abuse and neglect are crimes.

  3. JamesB says:

    Bad crimes.

  4. Paul says:

    Well, I think it all depends on whether wilful and unnecessary contact denial is specifically brought within range of the proposed definition of emotional abuse. If it’s not, the risk is that it becomes another vague, amorphous beast that social services bring out to hit parents over the head with if you don’t “engage” with them or meet some other arbitrary criterion they insist upon.

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