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Government considers new "emotional cruelty" law

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The government is considering whether to make “emotional cruelty” to children a criminal offence for the first time in England and Wales.

Dubbed the “Cinderella Law”, the planned legislation follows a campaign by the charity, Action for Children, and will be announced in the Queen’s Speech in June.

Under the proposals, a parent who is found guilty of an offence could face imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

face imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Defining neglect

NSPCC spokesman, Alan Wardle, said the current law, written in 1933 “at a time when neglect was understood as children who haven’t been washed or fed”, focussed on physical neglect.

"There was no understanding, as there is now, of the real harm that emotional neglect and abuse can cause to children,” he said.


But family care activist, Erin Pizzey, said she feared the new laws could turn every parent into a suspect. 

"If this extraordinarily dangerous piece of legislation is passed, all parents in Britain effectively become suspects in the eyes of the authorities looking out for those deemed not to love their children enough,” she wrote in the Daily Mail.


And commentator, Allison Pearson, who wrote in the Daily Telegraph under the headline “Cinderella Law: Lock me up, I once laughed at my son”, warned that the new parental offence of 'emotional neglect' was alarmingly vague and wide-ranging.

“For example, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children claims that emotional abuse includes ‘making fun of what a child says or how they communicate’.”

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: "This legislation as proposed could be used to monitor the private lives of Christian families.  We have already seen examples where the State has raised issues over how children are being brought up in Christian homes.  If this law is passed, we may see more of this and that is very worrying."