An out of date law and an out of date system?

Posted by Shelley Hopkinson / Friday 22 November 2013 / Child neglect Law Emotional neglect

Today Mark Williams' Child Maltreatment Bill should have had its ‘Second Reading’ in the House of Commons. In other words, MPs should have had a chance to debate the criminal law on child neglect in Parliament and for the Government to take action.

The debate didn’t happen and we’re again disappointed that a chance to protect children has been missed.

This is the second time the debate has been scheduled and postponed. This time a very controversial Bill on the EU took up MP’s time. I’ve spent hours today waiting for Mark Williams MP to stand up and share his story about Action for Children’s campaign and why it’s so important that our laws protect children from emotional neglect.

The support for our campaign and Mark’s Bill is overwhelming

  • Over 100 MPs and Peers have signed our joint letter to Damian Green MP
  • Thousands of supporters have written to their MPs and local press, with two brave supporters taking their stories of emotional abuse to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street 

  • Leading children’s charities like the NSPCC, Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society have all added their support, as have the British Association of Social Workers and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood

These individuals and organisations agree the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 needs updating.

Earlier this year, an independent group of experts produced a report which proposed and tests an alternative updated law. We have also commissioned research which shows that the UK is behind other countries when it comes to including emotional neglect in the criminal law. 
We’ve come a long way. The Ministry of Justice has accepted the seriousness of this issue and is carrying out a review of the law.

If not now, then when?

This amount of evidence and political support for such an important issue surely means that Parliament should respond? Unfortunately it comes down to time and luck. We’ll have to wait until Friday 17 Jan 2014 when child neglect will be back on the agenda.

We’re gutted that the chance to update an 80 year old law, which we know doesn’t protect children, has again been missed. How can it be right that an issue this important continues to be ignored by the parliamentary system?

We’ll keep going and we still need your help. We’ll let you know what happens and how you can be involved in the run up to 17th Jan.

Image used under creative commons courtesy of Maurice

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