Older teenagers aged 16 and 17 are at the greatest risk of neglect or abuse but receive the least assistance, a charity has claimed.
In a new report, the Children’s Society insists that one in every 50 youngsters aged 16 or 17 is at risk of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or is not being receiving sufficient food or clothing from their carers. This is a higher rate of risk than children in any other age group.
However, 16 and 17 year-olds are also exempt from the legal protections available to younger ones. Child cruelty laws only apply to children aged 15 or under, as do so-called ‘child abduction warning notices’, which are issued by the police to individuals thought to pose a risk to children.
The Children’s Society has now called for the inclusion of 16 and 17 year-olds. The charity surveyed more than 1,000 parents about the issue and says it received 82 per cent backing for an extension of the measures to older children.
Lily Caprani is strategy and policy director at The Children’s Society. She said:
“Victims of cruelty and abuse can experience devastating mental and physical harm that can blight the rest of their lives. In the eyes of the law, they are children until they are 18 yet the law does not sufficiently protect from abuse and cruelty.”