Change needed to neglect laws

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Government plans to make emotional cruelty to children an offence have been welcomed by Sheffield young people’s charity Roundabout.

The proposed change would mean parents who deny their children affection could face prosecution for the first time.

It follows a campaign for a ‘Cinderella Law’ from charity Action for Children and led to the Government saying child cruelty was an abhorrent crime that should be punished.

Roundabout supports 150 homeless young people across the city every day, and has the only emergency hostel in Sheffield for young homeless people aged 16 to 21.

“Roundabout welcomes the proposal to introduce a new offence of emotional cruelty to children,” said the charity’s chief executive officer, Ben Keegan.

“In our work at Roundabout we see so many young people who at the age of 16 have had many years of suffering in their family home before they come to us.”

Roundabout is currently raising funds to open a Homeless Prevention Service in Sheffield that aims to help young people stay in the family home rather than enter Roundabout’s emergency housing.

“But in so many circumstances we see young people who have given been no encouragement and been constantly told by parents or guardians that they are worthless,” said Ben.

“At Roundabout we are able to work with these young people to build their self esteem and it is brilliant to see their confidence grow. However, we believe the introduction of this new law will help highlight the mental cruelty that goes on to raise awareness of the full responsibilities of parents.”

The most common reason young people leave home and stay at Roundabout is due to family breakdown, abuse, or drug or alcohol issues in the family home.