The law on child neglect doesn’t cover emotional neglect and creates confusion which stops police officers and social workers from working together.
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What's the latest news?
An update to the law to make emotional abuse illegal has been included in the recent Queen's Speech. This means the Government are going to do what we've been campaigning for - which is great news.
The Government have published the Serious Crime Bill which includes the update to the law. To keep up to date with the latest news, sign up for updates.
Why does the law need updating?
- The law excludes emotional and developmental neglect which are now known to be hugely damaging to the development of children.
- The wording of the criminal offence stems from 1868. It's out-dated and confusing creating difficulties for police officers and social workers to use the criminal law to respond to neglect when it is appropriate.
- The criminal law definition of neglect is very different to others, including the Government's own definition from the Children Act 1989. This creates more difficulties for agencies working together to prevent and respond to neglect.
- The law includes the term 'wilful' which is no longer used in modern law. This creates substantial difficulties for police in pursuing cases of child neglect.
Read our take on the media coverage of the campaign and some questions answered in or blog: Why we should talk about child abuse, and not about Cinderella