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Cases of serious emotional abuse rise by nearly 50% this year

Calls regarding emotional abuse or neglect of children have surged by 50 per cent in a single year, a leading children’s charity has claimed.

Over 8000 people called the NSPCC’s anonymous hotline. Over 5300 were serious enough to be referred to the police and children’s services.

This is a significant increase from last year, when 3629 cases required onward referral.

The NSPCC said the highly publicised death of Daniel Pelka could have contributed to the dramatically higher volume of calls.

John Cameron, Head of Child Protection Operations, said:

“We must recognise extreme emotional abuse for what it is – a crime – and those who carry it out should be prosecuted. This isn’t about prosecuting parents who don’t buy their children the latest gadgets or trainers this is about parents who consistently deny their children love and affection.”

Emotional abuse can include telling a child repeatedly that they are worthless, making them feel frightened or ridiculing them, whereas emotional neglect includes ignoring a child’s need to interact and failing to express positive feelings towards them, among other things.

The government is currently considering an update of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to categorise emotional abuse and neglect as child cruelty on the same level as physical abuse.

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

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:

“This increase in calls from the public shows both the scale and seriousness of emotional abuse and a heightened awareness of it.”

He added:

“A new law would help children living in cruel and unbearable situations.”

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. Stitchedup says:

    An alternative headline could be “lowering of emotional abuse threshold”. I am very wary of this, it appears to leave parents wide open to allegations that can not be proven or dis-proven. A difficult child could play this card all too easily just like a difficult vexatious partner/spouse. I just hope common sense prevails and there’s a significant burden of proof applied.

    Children should be protected but life isn’t perfect.

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