Children’s charity Action on Children have launched a campaign to raise awareness of child neglect and call for a reform of the current law.

According to Action on Children, neglect is the most widespread form of abuse in the UK with up to one in ten children in the UK being affected.  Despite this, the charity says that the law in place to protect children, The Children and Young Persons Act 1933, is inadequate as it ‘fails to reflect the full range of harm neglected children suffer’ and ‘leaves parents unclear about their responsibilities towards children’. The charity further claim that the current law, which applies in England and Wales, has too heavy a focus on punishing parents guilty of neglecting children rather than trying to prevent it from happening in the first instance.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Dame Clare Tickell, commented: “We have an outdated law which does not reflect what we now understand children need and what neglect actually is.

“The law leaves children unprotected and parents without support and unclear about their responsibilities until it’s too late.”

A YouGov survey commissioned by the charity found that 66% of parents felt that the laws on parenting were ‘confusing’, with the same percentage saying that they would like to see a clear law, defining the responsibilities of parenting, to be introduced. Following the results of the survey, Action on children have called for a drastic reform to the law.

From the work we do in representing people who have suffered abuse and neglect as children, we know that the effects of being neglected in childhood can be extremely damaging and long-lasting. A change in the law in respect of child neglect would give parents more clearly defined parameters as to what is expected of them and make it easier to protect children where the neglect can be shown to fall below a statutorily defined minimum standard. 

For more information on how to go about making a claim for child abuse or neglect, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me or a member of the team.

By Jonathan Bridge, Child Abuse Claim Solicitor