Parents who deny their children of love and affection will face prosecution under Britain’s new “Cinderella Law.”
The British government is making changes to child neglect laws in England and Wales, making “emotional cruelty” a crime, according to the Telegraph.
Parents found guilty of deliberately harming the “physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development” of a child could face up to 10 years in prison, the maximum sentence in child neglect cases.
The changes will be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in June. Child neglect law currently only covers the deliberate assault, abandonment or exposure a child to suffering or injury to their health.
Under the new law, simply ignoring a child or not showing them affection over long periods of time would be considered a crime.
The British government reports 1.5 million British children are neglected. Lawmakers hope the new measure will allow police and social services to intervene before physical or sexual abuse begins.
Robert Buckland, a Conservative MP and part-time judge, says “the time for change is long overdue.”
“Not too many years after the Brothers Grimm popularized the story of Cinderella, the offence of child neglect was introduced,” Buckland said. “Our criminal law has never reflected the full range of emotional suffering experienced by children who are abused by their parents or carers. The sad truth is that, until now, the Wicked Stepmother would have got away scot-free.”
“We need a clear, concise and workable definition of child maltreatment — an alternative code that reflects the range of harm of done to children and which provides appropriate legal mechanisms to tackle some of the worst cases,” Buckland said.
“There is nothing more important than the protection of children,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman. “This is an area of concern. One of the issues that has been raised by the groups that have considerable expertise in this area is that the law has not been updated for some time. 'In terms of legislation, I cannot comment on what may or may not be in the Queen’s Speech but it is certainly something that is under very active consideration.”