Monday, April 07, 2014

The problems with Cinderella's Law

In recent days I have seen Liberal Democrat MPs tweeting in favour of Cinderella's Law - a proposed new law that would make the 'emotional abuse' of children a criminal offence.

Frank Furedi spelt out some of the problems with such a law in the Independent:
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children offers a definition of emotional abuse that includes some very real and unambiguous acts of harm, such as "conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate", but it also includes forms of behaviour that, depending on the context, may or may not be harmful to a child. 
For example, the NSPCC includes in its definition of emotional abuse the "making of fun" of what a child says or how they communicate. I am not sure what universe the NSPCC inhabits, but in the real world, the making fun of one another is the stuff of family life. When parents and children interact, they are likely to make jokes at each others' expense. 
Where does good-natured banter end and destructive verbal joking begin? Whatever the answer is to this question, it will not be found in the law courts.
I would like to add two questions of my own.

The supporters of Cinderella's Law envision parents who break it being sent to prison. What arrangements will be made for the children in such circumstances and how confident are the law's supporters that they will be any better for the child?

Because there are plenty of accounts of children in the care system suffering just this sort of abuse. So my second question is to ask whether local authorities will be subject to Cinderella's Law too?


liveotherwise said...

Good questions. It's a nightmare of a law, and the first attempt at dragging all children under constant surveillance of the state. Think I'm exaggerating? Check what's going on in Scotland, where every child now has a named person.

jockox3 said...

I hope it doesn't come in for family members, but it should certainly apply to "looked after children" authorities and their foster carers and such like.

Gawain said...

Agree with jocox: let it come in for local authorities first, if it must and then let's see. I suspect the mindless statists in our Party (who buy into every self-interested NGO's self-serving sob-story agenda) will run a mile from it under those circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I am ambivalent about the need for this proposed change, but one thing I do understand is that it's not aimed at ordinary parents and the ups and downs of normal family life, it's designed to address the very real neurological damage caused by CHRONIC neglect and emotional abuse. Frank Furedi should know better.