The Queen’s Speech, delivered yesterday, included plans criminalise the emotional abuse of children for the first time.
The measure, to be included in a new serious crime bill, will update current legislation on child cruelty. This is defined by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and covers only physical abuse, preventing the police from intervening when parents subject their children to humiliation, verbal abuse and similar behaviour. The planned new legislation has been dubbed the ‘Cinderella Law’.
The charity Action for Children drafted a private member’s bill last year to highlight its campaign for the criminalisation of emotional abuse, but this initially struggled to find time in the parliamentary schedule.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, the charity’s chief executive, welcomed the inclusion of emotional abuse in the Queen’s Speech. It marked, he said:
“…a monumental and overdue step forward for children and our efforts to protect them from severe emotional abuse. Children who are made to feel worthless, powerless and unloved by their families will now have the law on their side.”
The UK is one of the last countries in the “western world” to make the make emotional cruelty illegal, he declared.
“We are one of the last countries in the western world to recognise this form of child cruelty – the time for change is long overdue.
“Emotional abuse can create permanent scars, leading to mental health problems and, in extreme cases, to suicide. This legislation will change lives.”
The Queen’s Speech, delivered at the state opening of parliament, sets out the government’s planned programme of legislation for the coming year.
Photo by Reebok NPC Argyle via Flickr