Where is emotional child abuse illegal?

Posted by / Wednesday 15 January 2014 / Children's rights Emotional neglect Child neglect Law

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty giving all children and young people a set of rights.

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the treaty coming into force so we're looking at the law on child neglect around the world.

The UNCRC treaty sets out what every child needs in order to feel safe, happy and fulfilled. This includes protecting children from abuse and neglect.

We're campaigning to update the criminal law in Westminster, to include emotional abuse in the criminal definition of neglect. These important changes to the law would bring the UK more in line with the UNCRC.

Shockingly, England and Wales are behind other countries around the world when it comes to keeping children safe from emotional abuse.

The infographic above shows that out of the 41 jurisdictions studied, 35 of these clearly include emotional abuse in their criminal law.

This includes countries and states in Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia.

The only places that emotional child abuse is not illegal are England, Wales and Washington State.

It is hard to believe that our current criminal law on child neglect hasn’t been updated since 1933, but it’s true. Our understanding of the harm caused by emotional child abuse has developed significantly, however the law doesn’t reflect this. 

Together with leading child protection lawyers and practitioners, Action for Children has drafted and tested an alternative and updated law.

The Child Maltreatment Bill contains these changes and is scheduled for Second Reading in the House of Commons on 17 January.

We hope that our Government make the necessary changes to protect children in the UK against emotional abuse.

If you want to help the campaign to update the law on child neglect, please use our simple form to find and email your MP asking them for their support.

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