A private member’s bill which would extend the current definition of child neglect to include emotional abuse has stalled in parliament.
The current legal definition of child neglect refers to physical harm only and the police cannot intervene when youngsters are subjected to verbal abuse, humiliation and similar behaviour.
The Child Maltreatment Bill was tabled by Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams. A second reading had been scheduled for Friday (July 12) but has now been postponed until November after parliament failed to find time to debate the measure.
Mark Williams said:
“It is a matter of great sadness that the Child Maltreatment Bill was not afforded the time to be debated today, despite the seriousness of the problem facing us. I hope the Government will….think again about reforming Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.”
“I will continue to push for reform of this law, which has its roots in the Dickensian age, working in tandem with Action for Children.”
The bill was drafted by charity Action for Children. Head of campaigns Matthew Downie said:
“We’re frustrated and disappointed that parliament wasn’t able to find time to debate this much needed law reform to protect neglected children. The current 80-year-old law is simply not fit for purpose and is failing hundreds of neglected children every year. We’re calling on the public to continue to remind MPs why children suffering from emotional and psychological neglect need protection.”
“We were delighted that today, the professional body for social workers, the British Association of Social Workers, publicly backed the campaign. Along with our supporters we’ll now be working to ensure this important issue remains on the political agenda ahead of its rescheduled second reading on 22 November.”