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Government plans Cinderella law on ‘emotional cruelty’

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.

The government plans to include the measure in the Queen’s Speech this June, the Telegraph reports.

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

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. David Mortimer says:

    Broadening the definition of abuse gives the state more power to question parents which will put more children into care.

  2. Andrew says:

    The mind boggles.

    Many DV cases fail because the complainant does not show up in court, and that’s more or less independent adults. How are you going to prosecute this on admissible evidence beyond reasonable doubt?

    And think of the experts on both sides . . . you can find an expert with an impressive list of post-nominal letters to swear to anything at ninepence a yard except – perhaps – to the earth being flat. I only say perhaps because I’ve never needed a flat-earther expert witness.

  3. Yvie says:

    Fathers have already been relegated to the side lines, now the same could apply to mothers. Unless there are real concerns, Governments should keep out of family affairs and leave the parents to look after their children.

  4. Caz says:

    Will attending Boarding school, Working parents employing a nanny, all come into the category, because people in glass houses should be aware, of what is to come with this new law? But then again they will be able to afford legal, suits these courts down to the ground considering the cut backs and self representation, the lawyers will have new paying clients

  5. Chrysalis says:

    This is obviously a joke, well.. it is April Fools Day after all.
    This cannot possibly be policed. If it were every household with a child within would be up on charges. Parents, siblings, neighbours fighting, crying, revelling whatever the circumstance children are open to emotional awareness whether it be good or bad. These things shape us, good parenting and social network guide their children and advise them how to deal with these things.
    Happy April Fools day peeps xxx

  6. Luke says:

    Parliament clearly doesn’t have enough to do – this is just unworkable.

  7. Cases of serious emotional abuse rise by nearly 50% this year - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] The proposed change is being called the ‘Cinderella Law’. […]

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