In the Queens speech delivered on the 5th June, the Queen outlined the introduction of ‘Cinderella law’ which will, for the first time, criminalise the emotional abuse of children.
Currently, the law only permits the police to become involved when children are subject to physical abuse and it does not assist children who are suffering emotionally from being humiliated, verbal abused and/or suffering from similar behaviour.
The change in the law is in response to a private member’s bill which was drafted last year by the charity ‘Action for Children’. The bill highlighted their campaign for the criminalisation of emotional abuse to children. Sir Tony Hawkhead, the charity’s chief executive stated:
“A monumental and overdue step forward for children and our efforts to protect them from severe emotional abuse. Children who are made to feel worthless, powerless and unloved by their families will now have the law on their side.”
The change in the law has been long awaited and it seems the UK is one of the last countries in the “western world” to introduce the criminalisation of emotional abuse to children.
Emotional abuse can affect children, leaving permanent scars and lead to ongoing health problems. This may also reduce the number of suicides in young people. Statistics reported on the NSPCC website state “there has been a 33% increase in young people talking about suicidal thoughts and feelings and for 16 to 18 years olds, suicide was the third most common reason to contact child line”.
When faced with separation, parties need to ensure that any children involved are not subjected to any emotional and/or verbal abuse. I see time and time again parents involving their children in their separation which is unfair on any child involved. I welcome the new changes, but I am disappointed that the changes have not been introduced sooner to protect vulnerable young people.
In the event of separation, it is important to put any children involved at the forefront of discussions and decisions to ensure that any disruption to their lives is kept to a minimum. Mediation is a fantastic way to ensure that this is achieved and allows parties to discuss their separation in a controlled and amicable environment.
At Crombie Wilkinson we have 4 qualified mediators and we would be happy to discuss with you how mediation can assist. Legal aid is no longer available for most family matters, however it is available for mediation. To arrange a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM), please contact one of our offices to make an appointment. The MIAM costs £100 including VAT, however if you are eligible for legal aid the fee will not be charged.
The MIAM is an individual appointment and allows the mediator to discuss how the mediation process works and for parties to make an informed decision if they would like to take part in the process.