Parents who emotionally neglect their children could be prosecuted under new laws planned by the government.
Dubbed the ‘Cinderella Law’ by the media, the scheme would make “emotional cruelty” an offence subject to a maximum jail term of ten years.
It would criminalise harm to a child’s “physical intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development”. According to the paper, this would include both ignoring a child and not showing them love.
Currently prosecution is only possible if an adult has assaulted or abandoned a child, or exposed them to injury or suffering.
It will also become an offence to make a child witness domestic violence or subject them to degrading punishments, amongst other measures.
Conservative MP Robert Buckland, who has campaigned on the issue, said current legislation on child neglect was overdue for an update. The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 contains sections that date as far back as 1868.
Mr Buckland told the Telegraph:
“Not too many years after the Brothers Grimm popularised the story of Cinderella, the offence of child neglect was introduced. Our criminal law has never reflected the full range of emotional suffering experienced by children who are abused by their parents or carers. The sad truth is that, until now, the Wicked Stepmother would have got away scot-free.”
Photo by Adrian Bailon via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence