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Recipe for Spoiled Brat Nation

Rachel Canning

Changes to the child neglect laws will make “emotional cruelty” a crime for the first time, alongside physical or sexual abuse. The Government will introduce the change in the Queen’s Speech in early June to enforce the protection of children’s emotional, social and behavioural well-being. Parents who deliberately starve children of love face jail under new Cinderella Law

The biblical proverb (Proverbs 13:24) from which we get the more punchy aphorism “spare the rod and spoil the child” may be a bit dated in an era where all but the mildest of parental chastisement is potentially subject to intervention by agents of the state and the criminal sanctions for being found guilty, not only the incarceration of the parent concerned, but the force seizure and adoption of the children of such a parent.

Such laws are brought about due to a handful of cases each year, usually where children have died due to parental abuse (quite often the boyfriend of the mother rather than an actual parent) and often exacerbated by woefully inadequate child / social services.

So to make matters worse, the UK now intends to expand the boundaries of the state to allow child / social services to intervene and prosecute “mental cruelty”.

So what is “mental cruelty”?

Certainly water boarding little Esme seems to be covered by existing laws, so it’s obviously not that.

Sending her up to bed without any pudding because she was cruel to young Tarquin? possibly.

Telling Tarquin he should play with his toy cars rather than dressing up Esme’s Bratz dolls and having an impromptu tea-party? Absolutely! - Gender stereotyping, lock ‘em up, throw away the key and snatch the kids into the state sanctioned redistribution programme, known as adoption.

Expect the legislation to be so broadly and nebulously written that it can be interpreted as meaning whatever the hell the agents of child / social services want it to mean.

So next time little Esme asks for that pony, you’d better start thinking about stables and hay suppliers rather than committing an act of mental cruelty on her by saying “No” you CHILD ABUSER!

What do you mean you can’t afford it? You need to be asking yourself a different question – “Can you afford the financial, legal and emotional costs of NOT buying her a pony?”


  1. A “cold” upbringing lacking in “affection” is actually the traditional British way of bringing up children.

    If a cat or dog dies – people are openly upset. But if one’s son or daughter dies one chats about the weather (at least pretending not to be upset).

    If little John has his legs cut off by a combine harvester one tells him to stop crying – and to learn to use his crutches. If one bothers to speak to him at all.

    Who are you? Oh my son – is John your name? Well be off with you, I am busy. And stop bleeding on the carpet.

    Now such a stiff-up-a-lip attitude will be illegal – as “emotional cruelty”.

  2. NickM says:

    Well, whilst I wouldn’t go as far as Paul but JG has a point. As I see it is the lack, in principle, of physical evidence. If you have buggered Tarquin or beaten Esme with an iron bar then there is physical evidence and this matters. Otherwise you have a “definition thing”.

  3. John Galt says:

    @Paul – while I agree with what you say, that is largely a historical perspective, I doubt that the vast majority of children raised in the UK since the 1960′s will have experienced that kind of “Victorian Dad” type upbringing

    @Nick – Yup, I bet the definition will be the crippler and I expect the unintended consequences of this legislation will be writ large over the Mainly Fail for all to see for many years to come.

    I expect to see the numbers exiting stage left the UK pursued by a bear Social Services to increase dramatically.

  4. Mr Ed says:

    Well this is a long-overdue measure and I am surprised it wasn’t the first thing that the Coalition passed on taking power, after all, it dominated the debate for the entire General Election campaign in 2010, although IIRC a ‘bigoted’ lady in Rochdale or somewhere rainy got a fair bit of coverage.

    I am particularly glad that the law is now criminalising inaction, presumably this will be a crime of strict liability rather than intent, as proving intent may be troublesome and fail to protect children, but let us see the wording first, here a first draft for them to be getting on with.

    “Section 1 Offence of emotional cruelty to a child

    (1) A person who, having parental responsibility for a child, fails to show love to that child, or who causes or induces emotional cruelty to that child, shall be guilty of the offence of emotional cruelty to that child.

    (2) Upon conviction, a person guilty of an offence under sub-section (1) above shall be liable a) upon summary conviction, to imprisonment for 6 months and/or a fine at Level 5 on the standard scale, or, b) upon conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine and imprisonment for up to 2 years.

    (3) A person may commit an offence under sub-section (1) above by any combination or combinations of (i) a positive act, or (ii) a failure to act, or (iii) causing or permitting a state of affairs, which may extend over any period of time from a) the birth of that child, or (if that child is adopted, the placing of that child for adoption with the adoptive parent or parents), to b) the child attaining the age of 18.

    (4) No person who is employed by or on behalf of a Local Authority Social Services department shall commit an offence under sub-section (1) above in respect of the carrying out of his duties, even if he has parental responsibility for a child.”

    (5) A person may be convicted of an offence under subsection (1) above on the basis of the uncorroborated evidence of a child.

    (6) In sub-section (1) above ‘emotional cruelty’ shall mean serious cruelty to a child which does not result in a physical injury to that child.”

    Thank Goodness too for our Armed Forces, defending our freedoms.

    However, this does remind me of 20 years ago watching a Spanish language ‘Oprah’ programme which I took to be Mexican, when a child went to the police and got his mother arrested for slapping him. I was rather perplexed so I asked my Columbian teacher why the child went to the police, as from my Mexican friend I imagined that if he went to a policeman and said ‘Mi mama mi esta peleando’ (My mum is hitting me) the response would most likely have been ‘Asi?’ (Like this?) THUMP.

    If this passes, the UK will neither be worth defending, nor invading.

  5. Mr Ed says:

    Sorry bit of detail, the ‘Oprah’ programme was made in the USA, Texas.

  6. John Galt says:

    (4) No person who is employed by or on behalf of a Local Authority Social Services department shall commit an offence under sub-section (1) above in respect of the carrying out of his duties, even if he has parental responsibility for a child.

    So run this by me again – Social Workers gain immunity from this act even in respect of their neglect of their own children.

    Whatever happened to blind justice and “all are equal before the law”?

  7. Mr Ed says:

    JG, this is my guess at the law, made up on the hoof. Of course there will have to be protection for the prpofessionals involved, lest there be a ‘malicious’ prosecution (brought by the forces of reaction).

  8. Mr Ed says:

    A social worker caring for his own child is not carrying out his duties qua Social Worker, so would not be exempt.

  9. John Galt says:

    Gotcha. You’ll be giving legal eagle Sam Duncan a run for his money at this rate. :-)

  10. Julie near Chicago says:

    As far as the proposed law is concerned, as a proposed “cure” it is, like most laws, self-evidently far worse than the disease.

    However, insofar as I consider myself Conservative-ish rather than Traditionalist, I have to point out that the Old Ways are not always the best ways.

    It’s one thing to help your child to develop toughness of spirit by not going ape over his every hangnail, but I do think that children do better when they feel loved and secure in being loved.

    Of course, just one of the several difficulties with the proposed law is that in any reasonably healthy relationship between parents and their children, they are really the only ones who are in a position to make a valid judgment as to whether the child feels neglected in any serious way. (I think probably most kids feel neglected once in awhile. Because they are! Get used to it, because it’s the only game in town. But if things between parent and child are OK overall, the child knows it.)

  11. NickM says:

    “Victorian Dad”. Like the Viz ref.

  12. John Galt says:

    “Victorian Dad”. Like the Viz ref.

    I did try and find an appropriate example comic from Viz, but since most seemed to result in “Victorian Dad” bashing one out, it didn’t quite meet CCiZ standards of reportage.

    Hence the piccy of Queen Vic and family…

  13. John Galt says:

    However, insofar as I consider myself Conservative-ish rather than Traditionalist, I have to point out that the Old Ways are not always the best ways.

    Sorry Julie, I don’t know what the equivalent laws are like in the USA, not having spent significant time there since 1996, but as far as the UK is concerned, the murder of James Bulger in 1993 was the point at which UK child protection laws jumped the shark from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    At the present time UK child protection laws have finished their Brandy and cigars and were last seen in a cab with two lady companions on the way to the Pink Pussycat in Lower Regent Street.

    In short, we passed through “Reasonable Precautions” in the 1980′s and at the current point in time our legislative practises vis-a-vis children could best be described as “Paranoid Delusions” to make Vladimir Nabokov shudder.

  14. NickM says:

    Or could t\hat be Vlaidimir Putin?

  15. Julie near Chicago says:

    Oh, I don’t doubt that for a second, JG, except to wonder why it took your Child Endangerment Services so long to catch up!

    Our “Children and Family Services” in the various 57 states are out of control and have been for decades at least. I have no particular use for them, although there might be a sincere, and competent, social worker here or there. (If so, both of them should probably be collected and put in a display case in some museum as Sterling Examples of an exceedingly rare breed.) –There, I feel I have made my attitude toward the whole business snarkily clear. :>))

  16. Roue le Jour says:

    Gosh. I’m old enough to remember when autism was supposed to have been caused by ‘cold mother’, it must have been true, ‘experts’ said so. I’m sure we wouldn’t make that mistake again, aren’t you?

  17. NickM says:

    And I am very fucking far from normal. Mental as a bastarding Easter Egg is moi. I have so far gotten away with it, So far because I am moderately charming and kind to children and animals. But I’ll be first against the ‘effing wall. When the time comes.

    Roue, both my parents (born in the ’40s) are/were teachers. Some of the books they had/have on educational psychology beggar belief. So I am not surprised to hear that about autism. The theories I read about about homosexuality were stunning. And there was a fair chunk of dear old Sigmund. I was born in ’73. One generation…They are just making it up.

  18. John Galt says:

    The meme seems to be common-place it would seem, Esme is having her day in court…

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